10. Stonewall Riots of 1969

Steonwall Inn

The Stonewall Riots are perhaps the most well-known riots in New York City history, sparked after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar and recreational tavern. During the 1960s, the LGBTQ+ community was not welcomed by many city residents and institutions, and the New York State Liquor Authority shut down establishments that served alcohol to LGBT individuals. The Mattachine Society, an organization that advocated for gay rights, openly declared their sexuality at taverns across the city and sued places that kicked them out.

Since the Stonewall Inn, purchased by the Genovese family, was not under strict police supervision, the bar lacked features like a fire exit and clean toilets. Yet, the Stonewall Inn became a major center for the LGBTQ+ community in Greenwich Village, allowing for dancing and drag queens. On June 28, the police raided the Stonewall Inn with no warning, arresting 13 people after finding bootlegged alcohol and violations of clothing statutes. Instead of fleeing, patrons and Greenwich Village residents stayed outside the Stonewall Inn, and after an officer hit a lesbian, the crowd began to throw objects at the police. Soon after, a full-fledged riot broke out, openly mocking the police while doing impromptu kick lines. The riots continued the next night around Christopher Street, and efforts continued by the LGBTQ+ community to become further integrated into NYC. One year later, gay pride marches occurred in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and gay activist organizations and newspapers were founded to advocate for their rights. The Stonewall National Monument was erected in 2016, and 50 years after the riots, Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC 2019 attracted around 5 million attendees in Manhattan.