The View from Mulberry and Market: Revisiting Newark’s Forgotten Gay and Lesbian Nightlife, by Anna Lvovsky

In Chapter 2, “The View from Mulberry and Market: Revisiting Newark’s Forgotten Gay and Lesbian Nightlife,” Anna Lvovsky reconstructs queer nightlife in Newark from the 1940s through the 1960s using records from the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). This agency, headquartered in Newark, attempted to shut down spaces of queer community-building, experimentation with sex and gender, and personal expression, but failed. Its records were difficult to access and use before 2019, when they were digitized, but now scholars like Lvovsky are using them to provide valuable insight into gender and sexuality in these decades.


One of the earliest reports, from June 1939, describes a tavern run by Peter Orsi that gay men frequented despite Orsi's homophobia. The report describes two ABC agents’ views of the tavern and Orsi’s request that the agents eject gay men. Lvovsky contextualizes the tavern investigation as the beginning of a decades-long crackdown on queer nightlife in Newark.


Lvovsky also writes about Murphy’s, one of the most prominent Newark gay bars for many years, which was heavily surveilled and eventually went to court over charges against the bar for “serving homosexuals.” This 1966 report shares the observations of three ABC agents who visited the bar and attempted to identify gay men there.


Lvovsky also highlights a report from 1962 in which an agent observing the Latin Quarter, a bar frequented by lesbians, remarked to a bartender that two lesbians dancing together “look like they’re really in love.” She uses this document to show that bars served as spaces for queer romance.