DC Bar

By Mark Meinke

Times change.

plus_one1Forty years ago, gay-friendly bars – and their patrons – began pushing the envelope in Washington, D.C. It was the envelope of regulations prohibiting standing with a drink, moving with a drink, dancing with someone of the same sex, and all of those other "reprehensible" things that police and zoning codes outlawed. Paul Kuntzler, campaign manager of Frank Kameny’s 1971 ground-breaking run for Congress, calls them the "transitional bars."

Strictly speaking, there were no bars in D.C. Prohibition ended, but D.C. ruled that only restaurants could serve drinks. And since diners are seated, there was no option to stand and drink and walk about and talk – all those things that normally happen in a bar or tavern. In fact, if you saw someone at another table and wanted to talk, you had to leave your drink behind and find a waiter or a waitress to bring it to you.

In the late 1960's, they pushed envelopes at the 1832 House (1832 Columbia Road, NW), the Pier 9 (1854 Half Street, SW) and JoAnna’s (430 8th Street, SE). Kirby Matson, manager at the 1832 House, argued that diners waiting for a table could stand with a drink, so he put a bar upstairs for the "waiting public." Code required that the waiting public be screened from the public, so he put up six inches of chicken wire. At the Pier 9 (pictured above), the small cocktail tables all had numbers on stands and a phone so that if you saw a cute someone at another table, you could call and talk without leaving your table. JoAnna’s, the "first nice women’s bar," opened in 1968 on 8th Street and put in a dance floor for (horrors!) same-sex dancing. It was an overnight success. Within months, there were three other clubs on 8th Street featuring same-sex dancing. And the police didn’t do a thing.

The first "super dance club" opened across the street from JoAnna’s as the Plus One at 529 8th Street, SE. Kuntzler remembers an evening in the summer of 1968 when police cars raced up 8th Street, blocking both ends of the street around the Plus One. The police got out of their cars, expecting the gays to take to their heels and run. They didn’t. The gay men just stood there looking at the police with a confused look. So the police got back in their cars, drove around the block and roared up the street again hoping that the gays would scatter. They didn’t.

Gay Guys – 1; Police – 0.

Times indeed changed.

Mark Meinke is the chair of the Rainbow History Project, an organization that he help found in November 2000. The group seeks to collect, preserve and promote an active knowledge of the history, arts and culture relevant to sexually-diverse communities in metropolitan Washington, DC.

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Demolishing Tiger Stadium "is a Mistake"

Posted on: June 9th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Statement from Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The remaining portion of Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

The remaining portion of Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

With General Motors and Chrysler in bankruptcy and the Michigan economy in tatters, Detroit residents are looking for some good news. Unfortunately, city leaders refused to extend fundraising deadlines for the redevelopment of Tiger Stadium, so the beloved old ballpark-yet another emblem of Detroit's storied past-entered its final inning this morning. Unless the city council or the mayor intervenes, Tiger Stadium will be gone by the end of the week.

Demolishing the stadium is a mistake. Even in its diminished, partly demolished state, the stadium served as a defining feature of the historic Corktown neighborhood-a reminder of better days, but also a cornerstone for future revitalization of the community. Redevelopment of this iconic historic place for, among other things, youth baseball leagues, could transform it back into the thriving center of community activity that it once was. Now, city leaders have chosen a course that will in all likelihood lead to yet another empty lot in Detroit-the last thing the city needs.

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National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

A Victory for New Mexico's Endangered Mt. Taylor

Posted on: June 9th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 4 Comments

 

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Written by Ti Hays

Last Friday, in a highly anticipated decision, the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee unanimously voted to list Mount Taylor on the State Register of Cultural Properties. The decision ends for now a debate over Mount Taylor’s future that has divided the community of Grants and generated passionate appeals from those both for and against the designation.

When the Pueblos of Acoma, Laguna, and Zuni, the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation first nominated Mount Taylor to the state register in 2008, many people in northern New Mexico worried that the tribes would use the listing to halt development on the mountain. Others feared that the tribes had an even grander scheme in mind: the wholesale transfer of public and private property to tribal ownership.

In reality, none of those concerns had any basis in fact. What moved the tribes to submit the nomination was a legitimate desire to be consulted over activities that could harm or destroy one or more of the (literally) hundreds of thousands of cultural sites on Mount Taylor—a desire shared by all people who attach traditional cultural significance to a place or object.

The Committee's landmark decision is notable for several reasons. First, by virtue of the listing, Mount Taylor becomes one of the largest, if not the largest, properties ever listed in a state or national register. At 344,729 acres, the designation includes not only the summit and slopes of the mountain, but also its principal mesas: San Mateo, Jesus, La Jara, Horace, Chivato and Bibo. Each of these mesas constitutes a "guardian peak" to which each tribe attaches varying degrees of cultural significance.

Second, the Committee specifically addressed the concerns of private property owners, many of whom opposed the nomination, by allowing them to essentially "opt-out" of the designation. The Committee was careful to explain, however, that the decision to exclude private property, which makes up less than one fourth of the area within the boundaries of the designation, in no way affects the overall historic integrity of the mountain.

"The State Register nomination that was approved today clearly establishes this landscape as a Traditional Cultural Property worthy of protection and preservation" said Katherine Slick, State Historic Preservation Officer and director of the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division. "At the same time, the tribes have established in their nomination that private landholdings on the mountain no longer contribute to the elements that give Mount Taylor its cultural significance, and that the private property does not need to be afforded the protections provided by a State Register listing."

Finally, and most importantly, the listing secures to the tribes the right to consult with state agencies over projects on the mountain that require some form of state approval.

Whether the Committee will have the final say on the matter remains to be seen. Opponents of the designation have already signaled their intention to file a lawsuit challenging the decision. Should this happen, Mount Taylor may very well head down the long and uncertain path through the court system recently taken by another sacred mountain in Arizona—the San Francisco Peaks.

But for now, the mountain enjoys the protection of the state register. And the tribes that worked so tirelessly over the past two years to win this decision deserve an immense amount of credit, both for their willingness to disclose and discuss why Mount Taylor is important to them, and for their courage in the face of significant opposition.

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Ti Hays is the Public Lands Counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Miss Cookie Crawford Defends WeHo

Posted on: June 9th, 2009 by Guest Writer 12 Comments

 

cookie-tpm

By Cookie Crawford

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight raid on homes, severe

Like a drag queen of a certain age (okay, me), West Hollywood can appear quite pretty…as long as you don’t look too closely. We like to tout ourselves as a kindly, cultured village, but in preservation circles, our hell-bent-on-demolition City Council has been called the "Gay Mafia."

In the 1940’s and 50’s, we were a toddlin’ town, with our midnight lacework of gay bars safely ensconced just outside the City of Los Angeles. (Lose the shirt, pardner! No raids from the LAPD here!) Frisky starlets Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and the Black Dahlia were stashed in our balconied apartments, dreaming of better roles…and who they might have to, um, date, to snare them.

In the burgeoning village of West Hollywood, our local flavor was a bit like Greenwich Village; slightly seedy but artistic, and with good bone structure to our buildings. Not as swank as Beverly Hills to the west, perhaps, but not as utilitarian as plain old Hollywood, our neighbor to the east, either.

From behind the foliage that overgrew our bungalow courtyards, we watched property values rise. Years passed. Rent control helped. We designated and protected a handful of pretty buildings.

Suddenly, without warning, a battle cry cleaved our quiet village in twain when height averaging was yanked from the building code in 2001. (Height averaging is when a new building can only be as tall as the average height of the block’s existing structures. Who knew?) The grab for land development was on, and our now-aging starlets were unceremoniously tossed to the curb as their balconied apartments were ripped down to make way for looming condominium structures that bore a unified, "home cheapo" look.

We wept. Our glamour was shrinking!

Senior citizens were actually dying as they were evicted. Our City Council took to the airwaves, vowing that they deplored the Ellis Act that permitted landlords to break up homes just to make a quick (million) buck(s). How we loved our City Council in that moment. But then we saw them put children out on the street without compensation when they were gifted with a plot of rent stabilized housing on Laurel Avenue that they wanted to develop!

... Read More →

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Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Californians: Ask Your Legislators to Save 220 State Parks

Posted on: June 5th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Californians, take action now: write to your state legislators and let them know you oppose closing 220 of your state parks.

Written by Anthony Veerkamp

california-state-parksThree days ago, I took the train to Sacramento (that’s right, do what we can to reduce our carbon footprint!) to provide comment on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to the California State Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to zero out state funding for California State Parks.

I wasn’t there alone. In all, the committee heard 30 hours of testimony from nearly 2,000 Californians over seven days of hearings. The hearing I attended started at midday and lasted well into the evening. After standing around for hours waiting for my chance to speak (literally standing -- there is nowhere to sit in the hallways of the State Capitol!) I started to get hungry. And crabby. I then reminded myself that I, after all, was attending as a paid staff member of the National Trust -- most of the 100-plus parks advocates who made the trek to Sacramento that day did so on their own dime.

People like Tina K. May. Tina was part of a contingent of forty advocates from Santa Cruz who chartered a bus and got up at the crack of dawn to tell their elected leaders why they opposed closing State Parks. Like most of us, she started with the obvious: closing parks is fiscally irresponsible. According the California State Parks Foundation, each dollar invested in state parks generates $2.35 cents in revenue for the state’s general fund. That doesn’t include the much greater economic benefits derived by business owners and local communities that depend on visitors to state parks for their livelihood.

But with just 60 seconds to make her case, Tina quickly shifted gears and asked those assembled: “what is our legacy going to be?” To destroy a system that has taken over 100 years to build, or to keep the parks open when they bring in money to the state budget? Continuing on the theme of legacy, she noted “We survived World War I, the Depression, and World War II without closing parks -- I don't buy that we have to do this now.”

In my own 60 second in the spotlight, I focused on the risks to our heritage that would result from state park closures:
“Of particular concern to the National Trust are the historic places that would be shuttered. Preservationists have learned from bitter experience that an unused building is a building at risk. Without ongoing maintenance, small leaks become major structural failures. Fewer eyes minding closed parks will lead to increased risk of theft, arson, and vandalism.”

This battle is far from won, but I think park advocates and preservationists made some real headway on Tuesday. I even came away with a new respect for the members of the California state legislature, who rank right around Bear Stearns execs and the octuplet mom in popularity these days. Some pundits have said that these public hearings were style over substance. And it’s true that 60 seconds is barely enough time to say “good afternoon” (or in my case “good evening”) and state your name and affiliation, much less make a nuanced case for the importance of parks and heritage.

Yet we were clearly heard. As the committee chair State Senator Noreen Evans noted in her blog that night (what was she doing still up?!) “Most members of the public attended today’s hearing to address what is perhaps the governor’s most provocative natural resources proposal calling for the closure of 221 state parks. This is about 80% of all state parks.” She also apparently heard my own comments: “The public also testified that closing parks would risk the safety of cultural housed artifacts within our historic parks.”

Assemblywoman Evans summarized the seven days of testimony saying: “This budget is about the people of California and the kind of state they want to call home. Public testimony humanized the budget process. It showed the impact of abstract cuts on the lives of Californians. Public comment also gave the public ownership in the budget process ahead. We received constructive input and ideas that will help us move forward with the difficult decisions that lay ahead.

So, what kind of state do we Californians who care about our state’s rich heritage want to call home? It’s not too late to weigh in, but time is short. Californians, take action now: write to your state legislators and let them know you oppose closing 220 of your state parks.

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Anthony Veerkamp is the senior program officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation Western Office.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.