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Who Owned The Stonewall Inn


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Jacquette Atchison




The Stonewall Inn holds a significant place in the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, as it was the site of the pivotal 1969 Stonewall Riots. Located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, the Stonewall Inn has evolved from a humble establishment to a symbol of resistance and resilience.


The history of the Stonewall Inn is intertwined with the broader narrative of LGBTQ+ rights, making it a focal point for understanding the challenges and triumphs of the community. From its early ownership to the transformative events of the Stonewall Riots, the story of this iconic establishment reflects the struggles and progress of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States.


As we delve into the ownership and evolution of the Stonewall Inn, we gain insight into the societal dynamics and cultural shifts that have shaped the LGBTQ+ rights movement. The Stonewall Inn stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of activism and the ongoing pursuit of equality and acceptance.


Early Ownership of the Stonewall Inn

Early Ownership of the Stonewall Inn

In the 1930s, the Stonewall Inn began its journey as a tearoom, a type of establishment that discreetly served alcohol during the Prohibition era. However, it was in the 1960s that the venue gained prominence as a gathering place for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly those who were marginalized and often faced discrimination elsewhere.


The early ownership of the Stonewall Inn is linked to figures such as Fat Tony and Barbary Coast, who were known for their involvement in the New York City nightlife scene. During this period, the Stonewall Inn operated as a relatively nondescript establishment, serving as a haven for individuals who sought refuge from the societal prejudices prevalent at the time.


Despite the challenges and prejudices faced by the LGBTQ+ community, the Stonewall Inn emerged as a space where individuals could express their identities and form connections with like-minded peers. This era marked the beginning of the Stonewall Inn’s transformation into a symbol of LGBTQ+ culture and resistance.


As the Stonewall Inn gained popularity within the LGBTQ+ community, it also attracted increased attention from law enforcement and regulatory authorities. The early ownership of the establishment set the stage for the pivotal events that would unfold in the summer of 1969, ultimately leading to a watershed moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.


Mafia Ownership and Operation

Mafia Ownership and Operation

During the 1960s, the Stonewall Inn fell under the control of the Mafia, specifically the Genovese crime family. This period marked a significant shift in the establishment’s ownership and operation, as it became associated with organized crime and illicit activities.


Under Mafia ownership, the Stonewall Inn operated as a gay bar without a liquor license, a clandestine arrangement that allowed the establishment to serve alcohol to its patrons. This illegal status made the venue susceptible to police raids and extortion, further complicating the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community members who frequented the bar.


The Mafia’s involvement in the management of the Stonewall Inn brought about a complex dynamic, as it simultaneously provided a space for LGBTQ+ individuals to socialize while subjecting them to exploitation and surveillance. Despite these challenges, the Stonewall Inn remained a vital gathering place for the LGBTQ+ community, offering a sense of belonging and camaraderie during a time of widespread discrimination and oppression.


The Mafia’s control over the Stonewall Inn also contributed to the heightened tensions between the LGBTQ+ community and law enforcement, setting the stage for the events that would unfold during the Stonewall Riots. The intersection of organized crime, LGBTQ+ culture, and societal resistance underscores the multifaceted nature of the Stonewall Inn’s history and its enduring significance in the fight for equality and justice.


The Stonewall Riots

The Stonewall Riots

The Stonewall Riots, which erupted in the early hours of June 28, 1969, marked a turning point in the LGBTQ+ rights movement and transformed the Stonewall Inn into a symbol of resistance. The catalyst for the uprising was a police raid targeting the bar, a common occurrence due to its lack of a liquor license and the prevailing anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments of the time.


As the police attempted to carry out the raid and arrest individuals inside the Stonewall Inn, the patrons and surrounding community members refused to comply, leading to a spontaneous and defiant demonstration. The ensuing clashes between the LGBTQ+ community and law enforcement lasted for several days, galvanizing a sense of solidarity and empowerment among those who had long endured discrimination and persecution.


The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for larger protests and advocacy efforts, igniting a renewed sense of activism and resilience within the LGBTQ+ community. The uprising brought national attention to the injustices faced by LGBTQ+ individuals and laid the groundwork for subsequent advocacy and organizing that would shape the trajectory of the movement for years to come.


Following the Stonewall Riots, the LGBTQ+ rights movement gained momentum, leading to the establishment of advocacy organizations and the mobilization of individuals committed to challenging discriminatory laws and societal attitudes. The events at the Stonewall Inn served as a rallying cry for equality and spurred a wave of activism that reverberated across the United States and beyond.


Ultimately, the Stonewall Riots are remembered as a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history, underscoring the resilience and determination of a community that refused to accept oppression and sought to affirm its rights and dignity.


Aftermath and Current Ownership

Aftermath and Current Ownership

Following the transformative events of the Stonewall Riots, the aftermath reverberated throughout the LGBTQ+ community and beyond, sparking a new era of activism and advocacy. The uprising at the Stonewall Inn inspired a wave of protests, demonstrations, and the formation of LGBTQ+ organizations dedicated to advancing civil rights and challenging discriminatory practices.


As the LGBTQ+ rights movement gained momentum, the Stonewall Inn evolved into a symbol of resilience and solidarity, serving as a potent reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and acceptance. The site became a focal point for commemorating the Stonewall Riots and honoring the individuals who stood up against oppression, paving the way for progress in LGBTQ+ rights.


In the present day, the Stonewall Inn remains a vital landmark in LGBTQ+ history, attracting visitors from around the world who seek to pay homage to the pivotal events that unfolded there. The establishment has been recognized as a National Historic Landmark, underscoring its enduring significance and the indelible impact of the Stonewall Riots on the trajectory of LGBTQ+ rights.


As for its current ownership, the Stonewall Inn is operated by a consortium that includes members of the LGBTQ+ community, reflecting a poignant connection to its historical legacy. The establishment continues to serve as a gathering place and a symbol of empowerment for LGBTQ+ individuals, embodying the spirit of resilience and activism that emerged from the events of 1969.


The Stonewall Inn’s enduring legacy and current ownership exemplify the intersection of history, community, and advocacy, underscoring the ongoing importance of preserving and honoring the sites that have played a pivotal role in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.




The story of the Stonewall Inn encapsulates the struggles, triumphs, and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community, serving as a testament to the enduring fight for equality and acceptance. From its early days as a gathering place for marginalized individuals to its pivotal role in the Stonewall Riots, the Stonewall Inn has etched its place in history as a symbol of resistance and empowerment.


The ownership and evolution of the Stonewall Inn reflect the complex interplay of societal attitudes, cultural shifts, and the pursuit of civil rights. Its transformation from a Mafia-controlled establishment to a beacon of LGBTQ+ activism underscores the profound impact of the events that unfolded within its walls.


The aftermath of the Stonewall Riots reverberated far beyond the streets of Greenwich Village, igniting a movement that continues to shape the landscape of LGBTQ+ rights and representation. The Stonewall Inn stands as a living testament to the enduring legacy of those who stood up against oppression and discrimination, inspiring future generations to carry the torch of advocacy and inclusivity.


As the Stonewall Inn continues to welcome visitors and serve as a symbol of empowerment, its current ownership by members of the LGBTQ+ community reinforces its significance as a living monument to resilience and solidarity. The site’s designation as a National Historic Landmark further cements its place in history and underscores the ongoing importance of preserving and commemorating spaces that have been instrumental in the pursuit of social justice.


In conclusion, the Stonewall Inn is not merely a physical location; it is a testament to the enduring spirit of a community that has fought tirelessly for recognition, equality, and dignity. Its legacy serves as a reminder of the progress made and the work that still lies ahead in the ongoing pursuit of a more just and inclusive society.