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GLBT Neighborhood in Raleigh

Most larger cities in the United States have a neighborhood that is popular with the gay community or the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. In Raleigh there is a small neighborhood that has been developing for some time on and near the 300 block of Hargett Street.

Neighborhood Character

  • This neighborhood is downtown and enjoys a mixture of commercial, retail, restaurants, nightlife, bars, colleges, museums and the warehouse district. Most residential living is in a few highrises like The Dawson and The Hue. 

History

Hargett Street is fairly central within Downtown and for many people heading there from other sections of the greater Raleigh metro region, pass right through Hargett Street without knowing that part of it is an emerging & thriving Gayborhood. Many of the Gay, Lesbian. Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) bars/nightclubs and bar/restaurants favored by this community are in this neighborhood. These bars currently include The District, Deep South Bar, Flex, Fifteen, Humble Pie, Legends, The Fiction Kitchen ... a short distance from this district are Ruby Deluxe and The Green Monkey. The area also is home to the LGBT Center of Raleigh and several art galleries / retail establishments that are owned by GLBT people

The history of how GLBT business and community people came to set up shop within this section of town is long, but in brief, during the 1950's, because downtown Raleigh continued to be the hub of N.C. State Government business & life and high end retail for most of central and eastern North Carolina, plus the center of higher education for the State, gay people did not have many places to meet in public. However, like most government and education centers around the world, there were many gay people who were closeted in Raleigh. The Five Points neighborhood is documented as having two of the first Gay (at the time, the term used for what we now call "LGBT") bars. Later, just before the Park Central Hotel, at the corner of McDowell and Martin Streets, was demolished, there was a gay bar within it named The Queen Bee. This bar faced onto Nash Square and anyone could walk in. Immediately within a few blocks there was two other old hotels that entrepreneurs set up bars that were frequented by gay people : The Teddy Bear Lounge, in the old Andrew Johnson Hotel at corner of Martin and Salisbury Streets, immediately around the corner from Park Central Hotel, (NOTE: both the Queen Bee & The Teddy Bear Lounge sit now on the same block as The News and Observer News Paper), and a bar within the old Carolina Hotel (where Raleigh City Hall currently sits).

In 1978, one especially popular warehouse was converted from a Civil War warehouse lot into the more hip sounding “Lot 13”. Lot 13 housed several permanent art installations and was the location chosen to stage a performance piece called “Opening Windows and Passages”, which featured a young David Sedaris[3]. By the 1980s, several permanent art galleries appeared in the reason including Anthony Ulinski’s Dovetail fine woodwork and William-Cozart woodshop, both of which are still present and operating in their original locations today.

Throughout the 1980s, more and more artists flocked to the district, such as Doug Van de Zande, Thomas Sayre, and Steve Schuster, opening photography, sculpture, and architecture studios, respectively. Naturally, the “alternative” part of town needed an “alternative” club. The Berkeley was erected in the mid 80’s to answer that call. Even before The Berkeley opened the door, The Capital Corral, opened in 1076becoming the Warehouse district’s first gay club. The new club owners of the Capital Corral (CC), bought the old bar business, mentioned above, named the Queen Bee and changed the name to the Capital Corral, later adding a second section in 1979 referred to as the "Glitter Gulch Disco" but usually the whole bar was simply known as "The CC". This longstanding bar served as a gay nightclub in Raleigh until the early 2010s, where its named changed briefly to "313" before closing in 2013.

In 1991, Legend's bar opened across the street from The CC, and in 1995, Flex opened a few blocks away on S West St. The LGBT Center of Raleigh's 3rd and largest locataion was mere blocks from this area of town, in the space previously held by the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina.

In summary, while the current Raleigh Gayborhood businesses sit on the opposite side of downtown Raleigh across Nash Square park along Hargett Street and else where within this downtown district, it was those earlier entrepreneurs and gay customers that established this area of downtown Raleigh as the location that GLBT people of the region and across N.C. and visitors from around the world continue to come to for social and community meeting, dancing and the latest gossip over a meal. Further, Raleigh has a very large and diverse GLBT Community ... there are a large number of businesses, sporting activities, community activities and gatherings that take place in other sections of the Raleigh area ... the downtown Raleigh GAYBORHOOD is our historical and recognizable section of the region, our roots

Schools

North Carolina State University, William Peace University, Campbell University Law School, Meredith College, shaw university.

Online Community

Raleigh GLBT Visitors Guide operated by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB), http://www.visitraleigh.com/about-raleigh-nc/lgbt-traveler/

Raleigh Business and Professional Network, http://www.raleighnetwork.org/

LGBT Center of Raleigh, http://lgbtcenterofraleigh.com/

GLBT Center at North Carolina State University, https://oied.ncsu.edu/divweb/glbt/

Local Government

  • Which voting district for city/town council, school board, other?
  • This neighborhood is in the Central CAC district of Raleigh.
  • State Representative (as of 2019): Jay Chadhuri (Dist 15)
  • State Senator (as of 2019): Rosa Gill (Dist 33)
  • City of Raleigh (as of 2019): Kay Crowder (Dist D)
  • Wake County Commissioner (as of 2019): Susan Evans (Dist 4)

Features

  • The neighborhood is very walkable and within minutes of the main commercial street in Downtown, Fayetteville Street. You can easily walk to the Contemporary Arts Museum, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, galleries and many other downtown offerings.
  • This neighborhood is adjacent to Nash Square, a very attractive small urban park. This is a five minute walk from Moore Square and the new location of the LGBT Center of Raleigh (119 E Hargett St) as well. 

Improvements

The GAYBORHOOD is also known as the Warehouse District. Currently, there a number of multi-million dollar commercial projects that have been proposed within this section of Raleigh. These commercial, residential and transportation projects are ongoing and will have a significant impact on the immediate area. Time will tell if the GLBT Community of Raleigh will continue to hold a majority of the business atmosphere, vibe and friendliness toward all within this district.

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