NYC Gay Pride Parade Routes: A Changing Course

As posted by the NY Observer, we've created a map that details the start and rally points as the parade has evolved in its forty-five years:

New York’s annual Heritage of Pride Parade, scheduled for Sunday, June 25, has been a central part of New York’s cultural life for the past 45 years. The parade was launched as a 2,000-person march in 1970 to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, with chants of “Say it loud, gay is proud.” Initially, it flowed north from Christopher Street to Central Park, but has shifted routes over the decades as it grown and responded to new trends and regulations. In 1973, the parade was called a “better-organized event” in The New York Times; it proceeded from Central Park with 20,000 marchers down Seventh Avenue to Washington Square Park ending in a large rally (video). For the next forty years, the parade has grown and shifted routes through politics and tragedy into the event it is today. Today, with the Supreme Court declaring gay marriage is a right, the one-million strong parade is a symbol of freedom, civil rights and joy for LGBT New Yorkers – and visitors from every part of the world. Read more at

In conducting research for this map, a major finding was the change in language used by the media to cover the parade over four decades. The New York Times covered the 1971 parade with the headline, “Militant Homosexuals Stage March in Central Park,” the 1982 event, “Pride and Joy at Homosexual Parade,” and 1990: “Throngs Cheer at Gay and Lesbian March.” Over time, the word “homosexual” is replaced by “gay,” and “acceptance” evolves into “rights,” showing clearly the trend towards, well, acceptance. And by 1989, it’s a “Traffic Alert.” A further exploration into the language changes over time through Ngram and Google Trends and  shows the progress – at least in language – the US has made in understanding LGBT rights. Ngram: 1970-2008

Google Trends: 2004-2015

The details of the map were pulled primarily from The New York Times archive. Below are major points of coverage and a recommended reading list from The New York Times: 1970Militant Homosexuals to Stage March to Central Park Today” "Thousands of young men and women homosexuals from all over the Northeast marched from Greenwich Village to the Sheep Meadow in Central Park yesterday, proclaiming "the new strength and pride of the gay people." 1972March is Staged by Homosexuals; Gay Groups Press Campaign for Acceptance Here” "Thousands of homosexuals are expected to march from Christopher Street to the Sheep Meadow this afternoon to mark the second anniversary of a movement known to them as the “‘Gay Revolution’" 1976Thousands Join in March For Homosexuals' Rights” "Thousands of homosexuals yesterday paraded along the Avenue of the Americas, from Greenwich Village to Central Park, in the seventh annual march for homosexuals' rights.” 1977Homosexuals March for Equal Rights” "Waving placards and chanting rallying cries, a vast sea of homosexual men and women marched up Fifth Avenue under bobbing banners of liberation yesterday in what many called the largest homosexual rights demonstration ever held in New York City." 1978Thousands March Up Fifth Ave. In Support of Homosexual Cause: An Annual Event in City Parade Stops at Cathedral” "Tens of thousands of homosexual men and women paraded up Fifth Avenue to Central Park's Sheep Meadow yesterday to demand enactment of a New York City law against discrimination ‘on the basis of sexual orientation’…filled fifteen blocks on their way up from Christopher Street to Washington Square and Fifth Avenue" 1982Pride and Joy at Homosexual Parade” "As the marchers - estimated at 100,000 by organizers and 40,000 by the police - entered Central Park at 79th Street for a late afternoon rally on the Great Lawn, a woman shouted from a nearby curb, 'I'm for families, not gays.’ “But most onlookers along the parade route - from Sheridan Square, across Greenwich Village on West Fourth Street and up Fifth Avenue and into the park - savored the parade as a parade. They gawked, clapped and peddled everything from orange juice to toy antennas in a scene reminiscent of Thanksgiving and St. Patrick's Day celebrations.” 1983Homosexuals’ Parade Dedicated to AIDS Victims” "With band music and banners, homosexuals and their supporters marched yesterday from Central Park West to Washington Square in Greenwich Village. The Lesbian and Gay Pride March, the 14th annual such parade, was dedicated to the victims of AIDS." 1986Marchers Laud City’s New Law Prohibiting Bias” “Thousands of homosexuals and their supporters marched yesterday afternoon in the 17th annual Gay/Lesbian Pride Day parade, following a lavender stripe from Central Park to Greenwich Village….marchers passed St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, many stopped to cheer, jeer, sing or jab their fists into the air. " 1992Thousands Join in Parade To Celebrate Gay Pride” "The cheering, dancing and laughing marchers mocked themselves and stereotypes of their life styles, welcomed Mayor David N. Dinkins and waved and cheered to the tens of thousands who lined the parade route from midtown to Greenwich Village. A Call for Understanding" 1994Gay Marchers Celebrate History in 2 Parades” "They marched in not one but two parades -- an officially sanctioned one on the East Side of Manhattan demanding that the United Nations protect the rights of homosexuals worldwide, and a smaller, unofficial one up Fifth Avenue from Greenwich Village, organized by several dissenting groups that broke ranks with the others to make the point that the most urgent problem facing gay people is AIDS." 199930 Years After Stonewall, Diversity Is Shown in Gay Pride Parade” "Firefighter Tom Ryan walked soberly down Fifth Avenue yesterday, the Fire Commissioner at his side, the Mayor a few feet ahead, and a gyrating, feather-bedecked moving carnival of gay Brazilians behind" 2002Gay Pride, and More, Clearly on Display” "Fifth Avenue was awash yesterday in balloons, feathers, leather, wigs, thongs, stilettos and lots of bare skin, as tens of thousands marched in and watched the 32nd annual gay pride parade in Manhattan. The parade began as a tiny and timid affair in 1970 to commemorate the anniversary of an uprising at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, and has evolved into an enormous, electric dance party in the streets, thundering yesterday from 52nd Street to the Village." 2003Gays and Lesbians Parade With a New Sense of Pride and Possibility” "The parade lasted more than five hours and flowed from Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street down to the West Village. It drew as many as 250,000 observers and participants, organizers said." 2014Parades, Festivals Celebrate Gay Pride” "New York's Fifth Avenue became one giant rainbow on Sunday as thousands of participants waved multicolored flags while making their way down the street. Politicians including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo were among those walking along a lavender line painted on the avenue from midtown Manhattan to the West Village.”

Photo on cover page: 

Kasya Shahovskaya / Flickr