Sparking a Revolution at a Seedy Bar in Greenwich Village, NYC
An illegal mafia-run joint that regularly doled out pay-offs to the cops so they would look the other way, the 1960s Stonewall Inn was entirely devoid of any sort of gay-bar glamor (though it did allow dancing). While raids on the bar were frequent, when the "Public Morals Squad" rolled into the Stonewall in the wee hours of June 28, 1969, the large crowd bristled at their invasive harassment. Onlookers drawn by the sound of the scuffle gathered outside, and the billy clubs came out, but the police were quickly outnumbered and an spontaneous uprising exploded. The tables were turned, leaving the cops holed up in the bar with a menacing, mad-as-hell mob outside. The riot that ensued went on for several hours, ending in 13 arrests and providing the catalyst for a much more open--and organized--movement for gay rights in America. The building is still standing, though the recently spiffed-up bar hosting bingo, singalongs, and cabaret bears little resemblance to its dark, dank, and risky predecessor.
An interesting neighborhood tangent: Thomas Paine, the man who stirred the embers of the American Revolution with his 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, lived and died just a block and a half down the street at 59 Grove Street.