SUMMER OF '69
Selected Events for all of 1969
Summer 1969 Highlights
June 27-28, 1969: Stonewall crowd erupts after police arrest and rough up patrons.After midnight on an unseasonably hot Friday night, the Stonewall was packed when eight plainclothes or undercover police officers (six men and two women) entered the bar. In addition to the bar’s employees, they also singled out drag queens and other cross-dressing patrons for arrest. In New York City, “masquerading” as a member of the opposite sex was a crime. More NYPD officers arrived on foot and in three patrol cars. Meanwhile, bar patrons who had been released joined the crowds of onlookers that were forming outside the Stonewall. A police van, commonly known as a paddy wagon, arrived, and police began loading Stonewall employees and cross-dressers inside.
Early hours of June 28, 1969: Transgender women resist arrest. Bottles are thrown at police. Accounts vary over exactly what kicked off the riots, but according to witness reports, the crowd erupted after police roughed up a woman dressed in masculine attire (some believe the woman was lesbian activist Stormé DeLarverie) who had complained that her handcuffs were too tight. People started taunting the officers, yelling “Pigs!” and “Copper!” and throwing pennies at them, followed by bottles; some in the crowd slashed the tires of the police vehicles. According to David Carter, historian and author of Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, the “hierarchy of resistance” in the riots began with the homeless or “street” kids, those young gay men who viewed the Stonewall as the only safe place in their lives. The exact breakdown of who did what first remains unclear—in part because this was long before the smartphone era and there was minimal documentation of the night's events.
Close to 4 a.m. June 28, 1969: Police retreat and barricade themselves inside Stonewall. As the paddy wagon and squad cars left to drop the prisoners off at the nearby Sixth Precinct, the growing mob forced the original NYPD raiding party to retreat into the Stonewall itself and barricade themselves inside. Some rioters used a parking meter as a battering ram to break through the door; others threw beer bottles, trash and other objects, or made impromptu firebombs with bottles, matches and lighter fluid. Sirens announced the arrival of more police officers, as well as squadrons of the Tactical Patrol Force (TPF), the city’s riot police. As the helmeted officers marched in formation down Christopher Street, protesters outsmarted them by running away, then circling the short blocks of the Village and coming back up behind the officers. Finally, sometime after 4 a.m., things settled down. Amazingly, no one died or was critically injured on the first night of rioting, though a few police officers reported injuries.
June 28-29: Stonewall reopens, supporters gather. Police beat and tear gas the crowd. Despite having been torn apart by the cops, the Stonewall Inn opened before dark the next night (though it wasn’t serving alcohol). More and more supporters showed up, chanting slogans like “gay power” and “we shall overcome.” Again, the police were called out to restore order, including an even larger group of TPF officers, who beat and tear-gassed members of the crowd. This continued until the early hours of the morning when the crowd dispersed.
June 29-July 1, 1969: Stonewall becomes a gathering point for LGBT activists. Over the next several nights, gay activists continued to gather near the Stonewall, taking advantage of the moment to spread information and build the community that would fuel the growth of the gay rights movement. Though police officers also returned, the mood was less confrontational, with isolated skirmishes replacing the large-scale riots of the weekend.
July 2, 1969: Gay activists protest newspaper coverage. In response to the Village Voice’s coverage of the riots, which referred to “the forces of faggotry,” protesters swarmed outside the paper’s offices. Some called for burning the building down. When the police pushed back, rioting started again, but lasted only a short time, concluding by midnight. The New York Daily News also resorted to homophobic slurs in its detailed coverage, running the headline: “Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad.” Meanwhile, the New York Times wrote only sparingly of the whole event, printing a short article on page 22 on June 30 titled “Police Again Rout ‘Village’ Youths.”
The lasting impact of the Stonewall Riots. With Stonewall, the spirit of ‘60s rebellion spread to LGBT people in New York and beyond, who for the first time found themselves part of a community. Though the gay rights movement didn’t begin at Stonewall, the uprising did mark a turning point, as earlier “homophile” organizations like the Mattachine Society gave way to more radical groups like the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA).
June 28, 1970: First Gay Pride parade sets off from Stonewall. On the first anniversary of the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, gay activists in New York organized the Christopher Street Liberation March to cap off the city’s first Gay Pride Week. As several hundred people began marching up 6th Avenue toward Central Park, supporters from the crowd joined them. The procession eventually stretched some 15 city blocks, encompassing thousands of people. Inspired by New York’s example, activists in other cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, organized gay pride celebrations that same year. The frenzy of activism born on that first night at Stonewall would eventually fuel gay rights movements in Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, among other countries, becoming a lasting force that would carry on for the next half-century—and beyond.
July: Apollo 11
02:44:16: One Loop Around Earth, Then Moon-BoundAfter firing and jettisoning two of the Saturn V’s three engines, the spacecraft entered Earth’s orbit at nearly 120 miles above the surface. After one swing around the planet, the third-stage J-2 rocket ignited, hurling the Apollo astronauts out of near-Earth orbit and on a trajectory toward the moon.
03:24:03: Vessels Rearrange in SpaceNext came a truly tricky dance move. Aside from the Saturn V boosters, the Apollo 11 hardware consisted of three vessels: the Lunar Module (LM), codenamed “Eagle,” to transport two astronauts to and from the moon’s surface; the Command Module (CM), codenamed “Columbia,” where all three astronauts hung out during the journey; and the Service Module, which held the propulsion and support systems. (When the Command Module was attached to the Service Module, it was called the CSM.) To get the vessels in the right order for lunar orbit and landing, the CSM had to eject from inside the tip of the stage three rocket, pull a 180-degree turn and dock head-first with the top of the LM—all while hurtling through space at nearly 20,000 mph. Once attached, the Apollo 11 spacecraft separated from the Saturn V for good and the Apollo 11 astronauts began their three-day journey across the 238,000-mile expanse between the Earth and the moon.
75:49:50: Entering Moon's OrbitOnce separated from the Saturn V, the Apollo spacecraft was at the mercy of the Service Module engine for mid-course corrections and for the critical maneuver of slipping into the moon’s weaker gravitational orbit. This last move, known as lunar orbit insertion, went off without a hitch, swinging the astronauts around the moon at 62 miles above the lunar surface. The Apollo Lunar Module known as the Eagle descends onto the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, 20th July 1969. This is a composite image comprised of two separate shots.
100:39:53: Armstrong Maneuvers Descent During the spacecraft’s second pass around the moon, Mission Commander Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Aldrin moved from the CSM into the snug confines of the LM to prepare for detachment, leaving Command Module Pilot Michael Collins to anxiously wait and circle in orbit. Next came the “powered descent” of the LM, what Neufeld calls “the most critical and dangerous part of the flight.” After separating from the CSM, Armstrong and Aldrin piloted the 32,000-pound LM for two hours toward the lunar surface. At the last minute, with fuel supplies running dangerously low, Armstrong realized that the computer’s auto-landing program was dropping them in the middle of a boulder-strewn crater. “In what’s become a famous moment,” says Neufeld, “Armstrong took over manual control and began maneuvering the spacecraft forward faster so it would skate over the crater to a clear spot beyond it.”
102:45:40: 'The Eagle Has Landed'Armstrong, a veteran test pilot, remained cool and collected even as warning alarms blared in the cramped cabin and Mission Control announced only 30 seconds of fuel left in the reserves. “I think Armstrong was comfortable,” says Neufeld. “It was a tense landing, but he knew he could make it.” Standing side-by-side and peering out small triangular windows, Armstrong and Aldrin brought the LM to a gentle rest and cut the engines. “The Eagle has landed,” Armstrong reported to a white-knuckled Mission Control. “Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground,” responded fellow astronaut Charlie Duke in Houston. “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot.”
109:07:33: Armstrong, Aldrin on the Moon: 'That's One Small Step...'As commander, Armstrong had the privilege of being the first astronaut to set foot on the moon. As he stepped off the ladder onto the lunar surface, Armstrong famously radioed back to Earth, "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." (While Armstrong said "a man..." most heard "small step for man.") Aldrin followed Armstrong down the ladder. The two men spent the next two hours taking photographs, recording their impressions of the landscape, collecting piles of moon rocks and soil specimens, and deploying a package of scientific experiments, some which would stay on the moon after they left. Those included a seismograph for measuring “moonquakes” and the Laser Ranging Retroreflector for measuring the precise distance of the moon from Earth.
124:22:01: A Meal, a Nap, Then Lift-Off From the MoonAfter a meal and a few hours of sleep, it was time for Armstrong and Aldrin to rejoin Collins and the CSM in lunar orbit. Neufeld says that this was another nail-biter moment for folks like him watching at home. “Lift-off made me nervous,” says Neufeld. “There’s only one ascent engine and it’s got to light. It’s the only way to get back alive.” The prospect of Armstrong and Aldrin being stranded on the moon was real enough that President Richard Nixon and his speechwriter William Safire had a condolence speech prepared, which began, “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.”
128:03:00: Docking With Command ModuleThankfully, the ascent engine ignited perfectly and Armstrong and Aldrin cruised into lunar orbit where they pulled off yet another tricky maneuver, docking with the CSM in mid-flight. Armstrong, who had performed the very first successful space docking ever during Gemini 8, proved more than capable for the job. The three-man crew reunited in the CSM, jettisoned the LM for good and set course for home.
195:07:15: Re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere After firing its engines one last time to enter Earth’s orbit, the Service Module was ditched and the three astronauts braced for re-entry inside the cone-shaped Command Module. This would be the final test for the Apollo 11 crew and the thousands of engineers and test pilots who had made this moment possible. The capsule had to enter the atmosphere at a razor-precise angle. “When you hit the atmosphere at 24,000 mph, it creates a hell of a fireball,” says Neufeld. “If they came in two steep, they would heat up to fast and spacecraft would burn up. If they came in too shallow, the capsule would skip off the atmosphere like a rock on a pond.” After a breathless communication blackout of three minutes, Armstrong signaled a successful reentry and the recovery ships made the first visual contact of the capsule with its parachutes deployed.
195:18:35: SplashdownThe Apollo 11 mission concluded exactly eight days, three hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds after launch with a splashdown landing in the Pacific Ocean, about 800 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii and 12 miles from the recovery ship, the USS Hornet. The three astronauts emerged from the banged-up CM capsule wearing biological contamination suits for fear that they brought back toxic moon bacteria. They would remain inside a mobile medical quarantine facility (resembling a modified Airstream trailer) for 21 days before being cleared to return to their families.
The Harlem Cultural Festival
August: Manson Murders
1 Friday, August 15 to Saturday, August 16
1.1 Richie Havens 1.2 Swami Satchidananda 1.3 Sweetwater 1.4 Bert Sommer 1.5 Tim Hardin 1.6 Ravi Shankar 1.7 Melanie 1.8 Arlo Guthrie 1.9 Joan Baez
2 Saturday, August 16 to Sunday, August 17
2.1 Quill 2.2 Country Joe McDonald 2.3 Santana 2.4 John Sebastian 2.5 Keef Hartley Band 2.6 The Incredible String Band 2.7 Canned Heat 2.8 Mountain 2.9 Grateful Dead 2.10 Creedence Clearwater Revival 2.11 Janis Joplin and the Kozmic Blues Band 2.12 Sly & the Family Stone 2.13 The Who 2.14 Jefferson Airplane
3 Sunday, August 17 to Monday, August 18
3.1 Joe Cocker and the Grease Band 3.2 Country Joe and the Fish 3.3 Ten Years After 3.4 The Band 3.5 Johnny Winter 3.6 Blood, Sweat & Tears 3.7 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 3.8 Butterfield Blues Band 3.9 Sha Na Na 3.10 Jimi Hendrix