Candle Bar - the Upper West Side’s oldest gay bar - closed permanently earlier this week. According to a West Side Rag article, it had been in its location on Amsterdam Avenue between 74th and 75th streets since 1958.
The building that Candle Bar occupied was originally part of an eclectic row of speculative houses that turned the 74th street corner, built with stoops and American basements. The architects were Lamb & Rich, who designed many Upper West Side rowhouses, but perhaps their most notable commission was the Barnard College campus in Morningside Heights, the first buildings of which were completed in 1897.
As the surrounding neighborhood shifted to more commercial purposes, the row at 74th and Amsterdam had stoops and embellishments removed, basement light wells filled in, and storefronts installed. But the whole row, which is nonetheless still largely intact, achieved landmark status in 1990 as part of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District.
Whoever the new tenants are, we at LandmarkWest! hope their new storefront will be respectful of the Lamb & Rich design, and even restore some of the building’s original features. The sketch we found of the row in its original state may be an aid to restoration work.
The Closing of Candle Bar is a sad way to kick off New York’s Pride Week, but in brighter news, the Landmarks Preservation Commission just yesterday designated Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village as an individual landmark. It is the first building to achieve such designation solely for its relevance to LGBT history, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Andrew Dolkart for writing the designation report and to the many others who helped advance the process.