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Plaque Will Be Unveiled This Week Honoring Caffe Cino, The Birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway

The plaque will be unveiled on Wednesday, November 16th, at 2:30pm.

Plaque Will Be Unveiled This Week Honoring Caffe Cino, The Birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway

A plaque designating the former Caffe Cino, at 31 Cornelia Street, on the National Register of Historic Places as an LGBT site will be unveiled on Wednesday, November 16th, at 2:30pm. The date marks what would have been proprietor Joe Cino's 91st birthday.

The Cino, as it was called, operated from 1958 to 1968 and is recognized as the birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway. Additionally, the Cino was a pioneer in the development of gay theater, at a time when it was still illegal to depict homosexuality on stage. The Caffe Cino building is only one of eleven sites in the city specifically listed for LGBT-associated history.

Through the efforts of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, the Caffe Cino site was listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places for its significance to LGBT history. The event will publicly celebrate the installation of the bronze plaque on the exterior of the building, sharing the Cino's significant history with all who pass 31 Cornelia Street.

"The Caffe Cino is a testament to the arts as a powerful platform for change. In the 1960s-before the Stonewall Uprising and the Gay Liberation era led to increased visibility for LGBTQ people-gay theater artists at the Caffe Cino enjoyed freedom of expression at a level never before experienced on the New York stage. In turn, their work gave audiences rare public exposure to multi-dimensional and realistic gay characters, thereby challenging negative and stereotypical portrayals that had permeated mainstream theater and film for decades. Unveiling the National Register of Historic Places plaque on Joe Cino's birthday is fitting because without him none of this would have been possible." - Amanda Davis, project manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project and author of the National Register nomination for the Caffe Cino

"That the Caffe Cino is listed on the National Register of Historic Places is, in a way, confirmation that a magical incubator of modern theater once existed, and the creator of that room, Joe Cino, really existed. That tiny room at 31 Cornelia gave me my sense of the world." - MAGIE DOMINIC, Cino alum and historian

In 2019, the Project also successfully advocated for the Cino's designation as an Individual Landmark by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, with the support of then-NYC Council Speaker Cory Johnson.


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