I recently posted a review of Bette Midler’s Thighs and Whispers LP from the February 1980 Blue Boy Magazine. We are revisiting the same issue of the magazine with a profile of Julius, the oldest continuously operating gay bar in New York City.
In April of 1966 – three years before the Stonewall Riots – a protest took place at Julius’s that became known as the “Sip-In.” This action established the rights of gay people to be served in licensed premises in New York and paved the way for gay establishments to obtain state liquor licenses.
The article below also recounts an earlier lesser-known challenge to the bar’s liquor license alleging that the owners “permitted the premise to become disorderly” by permitting homosexuals to “remain on the premises and conduct themselves in an offensive and indecent manner…” Apparently a patron had propositioned a plainclothed police officer. The courts ultimately decided that the charge was not supported by substantial evidence.
In 2016, Julius was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and on December 6th, 2022 the bar was officially recognized by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
The article below states that the bar opened before 1860, although the wikipedia page notes different sources claiming 1864 or 1867. In any case, it’s ancient, but it did not gain its gay reputation until the 1950’s.
Some highlights from the piece below:
“The typical Julius’s person is almost always a doctor/lawyer type, though he may well be unemployed. He generally drinks too much – too early and too many.”
“The decor… is High Dirt.”
…and the hamburgers are still legendary.