Monday, June 20, 2016


The LGBT community in Harlem has been around over 100 years in a significant way but many of the key establishments have been disappearing over the past decades.  Drag balls that drew thousands uptown starting in the early 1900s continued up until the 1990s when Harlem's gay community brought voguing into the mainstream.  Below is a list of notable spots that have been a safe haven for LGBT uptowners but have since been forgotten as historic spots of the gay community.  Archival Photo Courtesy John Reddick

Rockland Palace: Number 280 West 155th Street, just east of 8th Avenue was the site of the legendary Hamilton Lodge Balls starting back in the 1920s but would be demolished by the 1980s.  Currently a parking lot is located at the site: LINK

Imperial Lodge of Elks: Number 164 West 129th Street by 7th Avenue used to be one of the locations that the vogue balls of the 80s and 90s were filmed at in Paris is Burning.  The ballroom has since been converted into a church: LINK

125th Street Bingo Parlor: Number 309 West 125th Street by 8th Avenue was another location that was a rental for the ballroom scene in the 80s.  The bingo hall shuttered in recent years and will soon become a national chain store: LINK

The Apollo: Number 253 West 125th Street by 7th Avenue still stands today as an iconic theater but had the notorious Jewel Box drag review featured on a regular bases up until the 1970s: LINK

Ubangi Club: Number 2221 7th Avenue by 131st Street was formerly Connie's Inn but transformed into Club Ubangi by 1934 which was known as spot for the gay crowd to meet.  This address was part of the Lafayette Theater complex which was demolished 3 years ago: LINK

The Pink Angel: Number 773 St. Nicholas Avenue by 148th Street was most recently St. Nick's Pub but was a gay hangout called the Pink Angel back in the 1950s.  The storefront still stands today but has been vacant since 2012: LINK

The Clam House: Number 146 West 133rd Street by 7th Avenue was know in the late 1920s for the cross dressing entertainer Gladys Bentley but was demolished in 1969 and replaced by a new building in 1982: LINK

Mount Morris Baths: Number 28 East 125th Street by Madison Avenue had been open from 1890 and was a gay meeting spot from the 1930s up until 2003.  The commercial space has recently been converted into a martial arts studio: LINK

Lenox Lounge:  Number 288 Lenox Avenue by 125th Street reportedly had gay mixers in more recent decades but would eventually be dismantled over a lease dispute back in 2013: LINK

Harlem YMCA:  Number 180 West 135th Street between Lenox and 7th Avenue was built in 1901 but the public had no idea that these Christian establishments were popular with the gay community until a song came out in 1970s by the Village People.  The landmark building on 135th Street still stands today: LINK

1 comment:

  1. You forgot to mention the Apollo Bar on W. 125th Street and the Silver Rail on 8th Avenue and 125th street. Also Jays Bar on west 12th Street.