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Stonewall Inn Designated A City Landmark

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village tavern widely considered to be the birthplace of the gay rights movement, has been designated a city landmark.

Supporters cheered as the city Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved the designation Tuesday. The Stonewall becomes the first city landmark honored for its role in the fight for gay rights.

"Recognizing and protecting the tremendous historic significance of the Stonewall Inn is incredibly important, long overdue and more than worth the struggle it took to achieve," said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation, which pushed for the move. "This site is internationally recognized for its connection to the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement, and to the fight for equality, fairness, and a more just society."

Stonewall Inn Designated A City Landmark

A 1969 raid at the Christopher Street tavern became a key moment for the gay rights movement. Patrons clashed with officers, and several days of protests followed.

Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan said the Stonewall events were a turning point in the LGBT rights movement and in the nation's history.

Dr. Gil Horowitz was at the Stonewall Inn those fateful nights in June 1969 and told WCBS 880's Jim Smith they never planned for the bar to become the birthplace of the LGBT civil rights movement.

"We just happened to be there, our destiny with history," said Horowitz, who was arrested during the struggle.

The Stonewall Inn has not been in continuous operation ever since the riots. In fact, the original bar went out of business in late 1969 – just months after the uprising – and the space was used variously as a bagel shop, a shoe store and a Chinese restaurant in the 1970s and '80s, according to published reports.

The western half of the building reopened as a bar called Stonewall in the early 1990s, and the entire building was put into use for a new Stonewall Inn in 2007.

Berman said the history made by Horowitz and others will live on physically in the building.

"It ensures that it can't be altered, can't be torn down, and that's so important," he said.

The Stonewall Inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

Berman is also pushing for landmark status for other buildings connected to gay rights, including Julius' bar just around the corner from the Stonewall on West 10th Street.

Julius' opened in 1864. In 1966, three years before the Stonewall uprising, it was the site of a lesser-known protest, which led to a court case and a ruling that the state could not stop bars from serving gay customers.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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