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Park Slope's Lesbian Archive Makes History as First Official LGBTQ+ Brooklyn Landmark

Lesbian Herstory Archives is the first individual landmark in Brooklyn designated for its LGBTQ+ associations.
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The Lesbian Herstory Archive, located at 484 14th St. in Park Slope. Photo: Google Maps.

The Lesbian Herstory Archives at 484 14th St. was officially commemorated as an individual landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on Nov. 22.

This commemoration makes it the first individual landmark in Brooklyn designated for its associations with the LGBTQ+ community.

“For over 30 years, the building has been the site of the Archives’ essential role in preserving and telling the stories of a mostly unseen community of women, including many who have contributed to America’s cultural, political, and social history,” Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll said.

The Lesbian Herstory Archives, the nation's oldest and largest collection of lesbian-related historical material, has been housed in the Park Slope building since 1991.

“The lesbian community has played an immeasurable role in the LGBTQ+ rights movement and will forever be a vital piece of New York City’s past, present, and future,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said.

“By designating the Lesbian Herstory Archives -- the first individual landmark in Brooklyn designated specifically for its LGBTQ+ significance -- we pay tribute to this vital part of our collective history. This landmark reflects the incredible stories of lesbians, who, against all odds, fought for and achieved the equality and acceptance they deserved.”

The Lesbian Herstory Archives, founded in 1974 by activists Joan Nestle, Deborah Edel, and others, began as a grass-roots attempt to end the silence around lesbian history and to create a physical archive for study, analysis, and community gathering.

By the late 1980s, the collection had outgrown its space and by 1991, the Archives had raised enough funds to purchase 484 14th St. in Park Slope, which had become a center of the lesbian community in NYC. Since purchasing 484 14th St., the organization has diligently maintained the building and it retains a high degree of integrity and historic character within the surrounding streetscape.

Materials in the Archives, dating from the 1950s to the present, include periodicals, files on lesbian activists and community groups, audio-visual materials, oral histories and the personal and professional papers of lesbians from a diversity of cultural, ethnic and class-based communities.

“I am thrilled that our community is gaining a Queer landmark location. With Queer rights and Queer people under attack in our nation daily, the designation of the Lesbian Herstory Archives as a City landmark is an important move to further solidify Queer history into the fabric of our City,” said Council Member Shahan Hanif.

“For almost 30 years, this site has been a physical archive for study, analysis, and community gathering among LGBTQ New Yorkers. With today’s designation, we’ll ensure this vital Queer space is in our City for decades to come.”