San Francisco’s Oldest Gay Bar Is Up For Sale (Again)

Is it time to say goodbye to the Gangway?

The city’s oldest gay bar, the Gangway, was almost sold in 2016, following a lawsuit and the death of its longtime manager, but now it looks like the bar’s days might finally be numbered for good.

Some type of bar has been operating at the Gangway’s address in the Polk Gulch area of San Francisco since 1910, and the location has been a gay bar since at least 1961. Now the nautically-themed establishment is in the process of being sold to Sam Young, the owner of another quirky nearby bar, the Kozy Kar.


The name of the business listed on the new liquor license is Young’s Kung Fu Action Theater & Laundry.

The Gangway is an old-school favorite haunt, one that the San Francisco Chronicle describes as “a treasure, especially among the city’s older gay crowd.”

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation police conducted an anti-gay raid at Gangway as early as 1911. The establishment also has a long history of LGBT activism:

Throughout the years, as many local businesses turned away members of the LGBTQ community, the Gangway threw open its doors. Records indicate the bar was also a member of the Tavern Guild, an association of gay bar owners and liquor wholesalers that formed in San Francisco in 1962 in the wake of police raids and other forms of harassment of gay bars throughout the city.

In the following decades, the Gangway held numerous benefits, fundraisers, and holiday parties for San Francisco General Hospital’s Ward 5B, the first inpatient AIDS unit in the United States.

There is currently no set timeline for the Gangway’s closing and it will be business as usual until the license transfer and the sale of the business are completed.

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