Christopher Street

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Christopher Street
Christopher Street shops between Bleecker and Hudson Streets.jpg
Shops on Christopher Street between Bleecker and Hudson Streets
NamesakeCharles Christopher Amos
LocationWest Village, Lower Manhattan, New York City
Postal code10014
Coordinates40°44′00″N 74°00′18″W / 40.73333°N 74.00500°W / 40.73333; -74.00500Coordinates: 40°44′00″N 74°00′18″W / 40.73333°N 74.00500°W / 40.73333; -74.00500
West endWest Street
East endSixth Avenue

Christopher Street is a street in the West Village neighborhood of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is the continuation of 9th Street west of Sixth Avenue.

It is most notable for the Stonewall Inn, which is located on Christopher Street near the corner of Seventh Avenue South. As a result of the Stonewall riots in 1969, the street became the epicenter of the world’s gay rights movement in the late 1970s. To this day, the inn and the street serve as an international symbol of gay pride.

Christopher Street is named after Charles Christopher Amos, the owner of the inherited estate which included the location of the street. Amos is also the namesake of nearby Charles Street, and of the former Amos Street, which is now West 10th Street.[1][2]


Christopher Street is, technically, the oldest street in the West Village, as it ran along the south boundary of Admiral Sir Peter Warren's estate, which abutted the old Greenwich Road (now Greenwich Avenue) to the east and extended north to the next landing on the North River, at present-day Gansevoort Street. The street was briefly called Skinner Road after Colonel William Skinner, Sir Peter's son-in-law. The street received its current name in 1799, when the Warren land was acquired by Warren's eventual heir, Charles Christopher Amos. Charles Street remains, but Amos Street is now 10th Street.[3][4]

The road ran past the churchyard wall of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields (built 1820–22; rebuilt after a fire, 1981–85) still standing on its left, down to the ferry landing, commemorated in the block-long Weehawken Street[5] (laid out in 1829), the shortest street in the West Village. At the Hudson River, with its foundation in the river and extending north to 10th Street, Newgate Prison, the first New York State Prison, occupied the site from 1796 to 1829, when the institution was removed to Sing Sing and the City plotted and sold the land.[6]

West Street is on more recently filled land, but the procession of boats that had made the inaugural pass through the Erie Canal stopped at the ferry dock at the foot of Christopher Street, November 4, 1825, where it was met by a delegation from the city; together they proceeded to the Lower Bay, where the cask of water brought from the Great Lakes was ceremoniously emptied into the salt water.[7]

In 1961, Jane Jacobs, resident in the area and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities published that same year, headed a group that successfully stopped Mayor Robert Wagner's plan to demolish twelve blocks along West Street north of Christopher Street, including the north side of Christopher Street to Hudson Street, and an additional two blocks south of it, slated for "urban renewal".[8]

Gay icon[edit]

A two-story building with brick on the first floor, with two arched doorways, and gray stucco on the second floor off of which hang numerous rainbow flags.
The Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, a designated U.S. National Historic Landmark and National Monument, as the site of the June 1969 Stonewall riots and the cradle of the modern gay rights movement[9][10][11]

In the 1970s, Christopher Street became the "Main Street" of gay New York. Large numbers of gay men would stroll its length at seemingly all hours. Gay bars and stores selling leather fetish clothing and artistic decorative items flourished at that time. This changed dramatically with the loss of many gay men during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

Christopher Street is the site of the Stonewall Inn, the bar whose patrons fought back violently in June 1969 against a police raid, sparking the Stonewall riots that are widely seen as the birth of the gay liberation movement.[9] The Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee formed to commemorate the first anniversary of that event, the beginning of the international tradition of a late-June event to celebrate gay pride.[12] The annual gay pride festivals in Berlin, Cologne, and other German cities are known as Christopher Street Days or "CSD".

Christopher Street magazine, a respected gay magazine, began publication in July 1976 and folded in December 1995.[13]

Anaïs Nin once worked at Lawrence R. Maxwell Books, located at 45 Christopher Street.[14]

Iconic locations[edit]

Near Sixth Avenue, Christopher Street intersects with a short, winding street, coincidentally named Gay Street.

Since 1992, Christopher Park, located at the intersection of Christopher, Grove, and West 4th Streets, has hosted a duplicate of the sculpture Gay Liberation Monument by George Segal to commemorate the gay rights traditions of the area.[15]

The Oscar Wilde Bookshop, located on the corner of Christopher and Gay, was the oldest LGBT bookshop in the world until it closed in 2009.[16]

Other locations[edit]

Former United States Appraiser Store, later a U.S. Federal Building, now The Archive, an apartment building on the National Register of Historic Places and a New York City landmark

Notable current and past residents[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • "Christopher Street" is both a song and the main location of the 1953 musical Wonderful Town.
  • The courtyard of 125 Christopher Street was the model for the sets of the 1954 thriller film Rear Window, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.[21]
  • The 1979 episode "The Spy" of the TV show Barney Miller -- about a group of New York City police detectives working in the fictional 12th Precinct in Greenwich Village -- established Miller's home address as 617 Christopher Street.
  • In Paul Simon's 1983 song "Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War," artist René Magritte and his wife Georgette "were strolling down Christopher Street when they stopped in a men's store."
  • The 1999 song "My My Metrocard", by queercore punk band Le Tigre on their debut album, mentions the location.
  • On the TV show NYPD Blue, season 7, episode 3 (June 2000) "The Man with Two Right Shoes" shows Christopher Street directly after detectives mention "hitting the fairy bars" to find a gay, male prostitute.[citation needed]
  • The Lou Reed song "Halloween Parade" from his 1989 album New York begins with the line "There's a downtown fairy singing out 'Proud Mary' as she cruises Christopher Street."
  • In the comic series "Preacher", it's referenced as the current address of detective Paul Bridges, implying that the tough, ruthless, and homophobic detective, was in fact homosexual.
  • The Clash song “Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice)” references Christopher Street with the lyrics, “A Polaroid caught in the act, you’re married too and that’s a fact, but I won’t peak and I won’t squeak down by the trucks on Christopher Street…”


  1. ^ Moscow, Henry (1978). The Street Book: An Encyclopedia of Manhattan's Street Names and Their Origins. New York: Hagstrom Company. ISBN 978-0-8232-1275-0., pp. 37, 39
  2. ^ Feirstein, Sanna (2001). Naming New York: Manhattan Places & How They Got Their Names. New York: New York University Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-8147-2712-6.
  3. ^ Block, Lawrence (November 20, 1988). "Greenwich Village: Glorying in its differentness; For 300 Years, A World Apart". The New York Times. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
  4. ^ "A portion of the West Village was carved from a farm owned by a man named Charles Christopher Amos, and his three names were parceled out among three of the new streets." (Moscow, Henry (1978). The Street Book: An Encyclopedia of Manhattan's Street Names and Their Origins. New York: Hagstrom Company. ISBN 978-0-8232-1275-0.)
  5. ^ Weehawken, New Jersey, lies on the opposite shore.
  6. ^ "New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission: Weehawken Street Historic District, May 2, 2006" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 28, 2008. Retrieved August 20, 2008.
  7. ^ Frank Bergen Kelley, Edward Hagaman Hall. Historical Guide to the City of New York (City History Club of New York), 1909:75.
  8. ^ Landmarks Preservation Commission: Weehawken Street Historic District, May 2, 2006
  9. ^ a b Goicichea, Julia (August 16, 2017). "Why New York City Is a Major Destination for LGBT Travelers". The Culture Trip. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  10. ^ "Workforce Diversity The Stonewall Inn, National Historic Landmark National Register Number: 99000562". National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  11. ^ Rosenberg, Eli (June 24, 2016). "Stonewall Inn Named National Monument, a First for the Gay Rights Movement". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2016.
  12. ^ Stryker, Susan. "Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day: 1970". PlanetOut. Archived from the original on 31 March 2008. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  13. ^ Weise, Donald (October 20, 2014). "Michael Denneny: On Working in Publishing During the 1970s, Starting Christopher Street Magazine, and the Future of Gay Literature". Lambda Literary.
  14. ^ Recollections of Anaïs Nin, Ohio University Press, 1996, p. 6.
  15. ^ "Christopher Park: Gay Liberation". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  16. ^ "Oscar Wilde Bookshop". New York. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  17. ^ Frommer's review of McNulty's Tea & Coffee Company, The New York Times. Accessed online 23 July 2008.
  18. ^ Sawyer-Lauðcanno, Christopher (2004). E.E. Cummings: A Biography. p. 135. ISBN 9781570717758. Retrieved October 7, 2007. On March 2 he moved out of the Brevoort Hotel, where he had been staying, and took up residence at 11 Christopher Street, in the West Village.
  19. ^ Embury, Stuart P. (2006). "Chapter One: The Early Years". The Art and Life of Luigi Lucioni. Embury Publishing Company. pp. 1–3.
  20. ^ "Dawn Powell, Novelist, Is Dead; Author of Witty, Satirical Books; Middle Class Was the Object of Her Stinging Fiction-13 Books Published", The New York Times, November 16, 1965. "Miss Powell, who had resided in Greenwich Village most of her life, maintained an apartment at 95 Christopher Street, where she did most of her writing in recent years."
  21. ^ Lumenick, Lou (7 August 2014). "Inside the real Greenwich Village apartment that inspired Rear Window". New York Post. Retrieved 21 November 2016.

External links[edit]