The Caffe Cino

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark


CLIENT: Michael Maloney

ARCHITECT: Benjamin Warner

DATE: 1877

STYLE: Italianate

Designated June 18, 2019

Caffe Cino is considered the birthplace of Off Off Broadway Theater. Although the building itself was already designated as part of the Greenwich Village HD Extension II the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Caffe Cino as an Individual Landmark in recognition of its cultural history.

Joe Cino, an Italian-American gay man, opened the Caffe Cino in 1958 as a coffee shop and art exhibition space. Soon, the cafe was also used for poetry readings and small, experimental theater productions. The Caffe Cino emerged as a venue for new and unknown playwrights, most of whom were gay men. At this time, portraying homosexuality in theatrical productions was illegal under the Wales Padlock Law of 1927 and the Caffe Cino became a center for gay artists to share their work. Many of these projects overtly depicted homosexual themes in a positive manner on stage for the first time. Caffe Cino was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.

*image courtesy of LGBT Historic Sites Project

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

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Landmark Activity

Jun 3, 2019

HDC@LPC: Designation Testimony – LGBTQ Sites

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Local Voices

“I don’t know what the City would be without HDC. [They] testified before LPC time after time and helped us focus on the right issues. We would not be an historic district without HDC! ”

Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance

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“Use HDC as a resource because they know what they are doing and can offer advice on how to go about creating a district from every front: architectural, political, LPC, and the media. I had floundered prior to my involvement with this invaluable organization.”

Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site

Local Voices

“HDC provided guidance and shared information during that process—we knew which Council members were going one way or another and we changed a few minds. I don’t think NoHo would have had as cohesive a district had it not been for HDC’s aid.”

Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension

Local Voices

“I remember Richard saying at a meeting, we have someone here from HDC, Nadezhda Williams, Director of Preservation and Research, to help us. She said to us, ‘You are not the only ones going through this.’ HDC included us in an enormous community”

Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society