Explore Brooklyn’s LGBTQ History With a New Exhibit at Brooklyn Historical Society

Little Beauties cigarettes trade card of Ella Wesner, circa 1880. Image in the collection of Gillian Rodger via Brooklyn Historical Society


    Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the Brooklyn Historical Society is shining a light on the story of the borough’s queer history.

    “On the (Queer) Waterfront” focuses specifically on the LGBTQ communities that thrived along Brooklyn’s waterfront from the 19th century through World War II. An often unrecognized part of Brooklyn’s story, the exhibit uses work as a way to delve into the lives that queer individuals crafted for themselves in the borough. Artists, entertainers, sex workers, sailors and factory workers found jobs, inexpensive housing and a certain anonymity in waterfront neighborhoods.

    brooklyn historical society

    Madam Tirza publicity still, circa 1940. Photo from the collection of David Denholtz via Brooklyn Historical Society

    The exhibition is co-curated by author Hugh Ryan and artist and activist Avram Finkelstein. The opening reception on Tuesday, March 5 will also serve as the launch for Ryan’s new book, “When Brooklyn Was Queer.”

    The exhibit will be on display at Brooklyn Historical Society at 128 Pierrepont Street through August 4. It’s open to the public Wednesday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors and teachers and free for members and students. The exhibition opening on Tuesday, March 5 runs from 6:30 to 8:30 and is free and open to the public. For more information visit their website here.

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