|70 Grove Street today|
Location: 70 Grove Street (West Village), New York, New York, USA
Opened/Closed: Early 1990s
Pandora's Box was a lesbian bar that catered to a mostly Black and Hispanic clientele. It is not to be confused with the Pandora's Box in Detroit, Michigan, which also catered to a mostly Black lesbian clientele. Or with the Pandora's Box on West 26th Street in Chelsea (New York City), which is a BDSM club.
So far, the most detailed "snapshot" I have found of Pandora's Box comes from this article in the New York Times, dated September 12, 1993:
In January 1992, the people who live behind Pandora's Box, a lesbian bar on Grove Street in the West Village, began complaining about noise. When bar patrons climbed onto the building's roof and got into fights, the residents became uneasy. When a patron fired an unlicensed pistol into the bar's ceiling, they grew frightened.
But when the city did nothing to address the problem, they got mad. That's when things started to change.Repeated complaints to the Sixth Precinct's cabaret squad and community policing unit were fruitless, residents said. A petition with 108 signatures also produced no results. And according to the Department of Environmental Protection, the club owes more than $23,000 in outstanding fines for noise violations.
"Simply put, it would appear that residents of the neighborhood cannot look to the N.Y.P.D. to enforce the law, or even to answer the phone," said Susan Rosengarten, director of the board of the Sheridan Owners Corporation, in a letter to Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Mayor David N. Dinkins.
Then the New York Civil Liberties Union intervened to request that the police address the situation. "The issue was that these people couldn't really get the city to listen to them, which is their right," said Norman Siegel, executive director. "That's what those elected officials are supposed to do."
On Sept. 1 dozens of city and police officials, including representatives from the Mayor's office and from the Manhattan Borough President's office, met with the apartment owners.
The manager of the club, Cynthia Russo, said that there were several clubs in the Sheridan Square area that play loud dance music and that her club was being singled out unfairly. She said she believed that residents disliked the club because many of the patrons were lesbians and because most were black or Hispanic. "We are not a bunch of convicts here," Ms. Russo said.