No geysers or Smokey Bear, but Stonewall could be a park

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Gay youth during the Stonewall Riots in the summer of the 1969, which sparked the gay-rights movement.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |  The Stonewall Inn could soon be a city landmark, and if advocates have their way, it could also become a national park.

More specifically, a movement is underway to get the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park, the small triangular park located directly across from the famed gay bar, designated as a unit as a national park.

Unlike Yosemite and Yellowstone, though, this effort isn’t being done to create hiking trails and campsites in the small swath of Greenwich Village greenery, or even entice Smokey Bear to visit the Village watering hole. The designation would, however, allow for education and programming opportunities.

As Robert Atterbury, special assistant to Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, explained it, the real impetus is to give the location of the 1969 Stonewall Riots due respect on par with that of other famed civil-rights sites, “to give it the national significance it deserves,” as he put it.

In his second inaugural speech, President Obama pointedly said, “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall.”

Seneca Falls, where the suffragette movement was born, and Selma, a pivotal point in blacks’ struggle for civil rights, are both national parks. Yet, Stonewall is not.

To start the ball rolling on the effort, the National Parks Conservation Association will hold a community outreach meeting on Tues., June 23, at the L.G.B.T. Center, at 208 W. 13th St., at which there will be a presentation of the proposal. The idea will then go before Community Board 2 in July.

The proposal has the support of the area’s local elected officials, including Nadler, state Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, City Councilmember Corey Johnson and Borough President Gale Brewer.

Speaking of Tues., June 23, the Stonewall Inn also could become an individual New York City landmark as soon as that date as well, when the Landmarks Preservation Commission meets to consider the designation.

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