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On Pride Weekend, the Stonewall Visitor Center Opens

On Pride Weekend, the Stonewall Visitor Center Opens

Good morning. It’s Friday. Today, and on Fridays through the summer, we’ll focus on things to do in New York over the weekend.

Diana Rodriguez, the chief executive of Pride Live, which runs the new Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, pointed to an old-fashioned jukebox.

“Go ahead, give it a whirl,” she said.

I dropped in a Stonewall-branded coin and chose a song.

The machine whirred, for five seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, as Rodriguez explained that it was the same model as the one that was at the Stonewall Inn on the night of the Stonewall uprising 55 years ago — the event that ushered in an era of gay pride and activism for gay rights.

Five more seconds passed before the music started — the gospel standard “Oh Happy Day.”

The jukebox is just one of the elements that mix past and present in the $3.2 million visitor center in Greenwich Village, which opens today after six years of development. The center, which is privately funded, largely through corporate donations, memorializes the bar’s history and the night in 1969 when a police raid set off several days of riots.

It is small, considering the significance of what happened there and its standing as the first national monument to L.G.B.T.Q. rights and history. But the Stonewall Inn wasn’t very large to begin with, and there is, in fact, a lot to see.

Readying the center for today’s opening became a personal project for Rodriguez, 58, a queer woman whose family has served in the U.S. military for four generations. Her uncle Tony Torres, a gay man, served in combat in the Army in Vietnam. But when he died of AIDS in 1989, no one from his unit came to his funeral.

The flag that was on his coffin now sits just inside the entrance, along with his medals and dog tag, to remind visitors of “what happens in life, and that people can inspire us,” she said.

How the past shaped — and continues to shape — the present is a theme that echoes through the nearly 2,100-square-foot center, the vision for which began taking shape after President Barack Obama designated the site a national monument in 2016. The designation included the modern-day Stonewall Inn, a reincarnation of the original with different owners, in the building next to the visitor center. The designation also covered Christopher Park across the street, which was restored in the 1980s and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1999.

The designation was a great first step, Rodriguez said, but there was…

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