This project has stopped development, but is being left up as an archive.
Jeff Ferzoco , July 14, 2015
About four months ago, I started building a small database. It was a collection of gay bars that had existed over the years around my neighborhood, the East Village in New York City.
I created this after talking with several friends who knew about bars and clubs that I had existed before I arrived in New York in 2002. The names and places that came up were so close and personal. 'Tunnel Bar' is now my hardware store. The Saint is now a bank on my block. I wanted to know them all. So I found a list of all the currently open bars and a few old gay guides and got to work. Before I knew it, I had 300 locations.
Thus came OUTgoing, a documentation of the entire history of New York’s LGBT nightlife history. It’s been a lot of joy putting it all together and the work is pretty much never done. There are around 860 locations at the moment (and it is all still being refined and cleaned up, weekly) and I expect about 300-400 more to exist.
My sources have been gay guides, club flyers, gay history texts and primary sources. Archives like the New York Public Library and The Center have been incredibly helpful in locating these sources, and there have been some folks gathering data for years behind the scenes.
OUTgoing: The Hidden History of New York's Gay Nightlife – was an effort to map documented historic locations of gay nightlife in New York City as far back and comprehensively as possible.
From historic records and books, we’ve gathered 1000+ nighttime spots – bars, clubs, bathhouses, coffee houses, cruising areas, late-night diners, etc – from the 1800s to 2019.
>Big thanks to:
- - Gay New York by George Chauncy and The Gay Metropolis by Charles Kaiser
- - NYU Rudin Center, specifically Sarah Kaufman and Mitchell Moss
- - Eric Brelsford, who boosted this project with the trickiest coding parts (time sliders, etc)
- - Richard Dunks, who also contributed coding backup when I got stuck
- - Anthony Denaro, who entered hundreds of entries from photographs while on a plane to LA
- - Chrys Wu, who helped with strategy and thinking and was a great beta tester
- - Joanne McNeil, for her advice and support on executing OUTgoing
- - Chris Henrick, for design critiques
- - The donors to the crowdfunding campaign who helped get more research done and the OCR software.
- - and the whole CartoDB (now CARTO) crew.
Where are you getting your data?
Mainly gay guidebooks, which have been produced to help queers navigate strange cities since about 1966.
Anything before then comes partially from texts about gay life (Gay New York, The Gay Metropolis, etc.) which have documented locations and clues to follow to find others. Also, there are municipal records – old police records and liquor licenses – but still researching those.
As a project that attempts to document people who are in fluid in their characters and preferences, we use anecdotal stories, hearsay and gossip to reinforce our research. dates and specifics may not be accurate, but rest assured, it makes for a good time. Tell us if you have gossip:)
What other cities are you considering?
For the moment, New York is the one being actively built out. San Francisco has a good base of information, so it will begin development in the end of summer. It’ll require some travel. There is a GoFundMe to help with that effort.
How are you choosing sites?
This whole process is more of an art than a science. The locations are places of business that had their main activity after dark, or supported life after dark and were popular or used by LGBTs.
What do the data parts mean?
Name: The name of this location and, if identical in name to another, a qualifier (v1, v2, v3, after-hours, etc).
Open/Close dates: Approximate dates on most, more verified dates are coming. If you see one wrong, please let us know. If a date is completely unknown on both ends, it is generally listed as 5 years earlier and later, just to give a possible range.
There is a bar on your map that isn’t gay. Why?
Some locations had a strong gay clientele for awhile then the crowd shifted. Example: The Four Seasons in the 50-60s was popular with gays but isn’t really now – so is listed only for that time approximate period.