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Women’s History and Our Civil Rights Map

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Of course we do that all year round as we explore the stories behind the streets, buildings and people of Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo, which are filled with remarkable women and advocates for the rights of women. Our research allows us to provide numerous resources shedding light upon women’s history in our communities, one of the most comprehensive of which is our Civil Rights and Social Justice Map.

The map was launched in 2017, and has since been updated and expanded to more than 60 entries on women’s history alone among over 200 that also cover African American, LGBTQ+, Hispanic, and Asian American histories, among others. The women’s history section of the map starts off with a look at Amelia Earhart’s life in Greenwich House at 27 Barrow Street. The map then takes us on a journey to people and events earlier in our city’s history, such as Elizabeth Jennings Graham, an African American woman who was evicted from a streetcar in 1854, nearly 100 years before Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and on to the present day.

Our latest update to the map includes an entry about Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who in 2009 became the first Latinx, first woman of color, and only the third woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Prior to Sotomayor, only two non-white justices, Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas (both African Americans), had served, and only two women: Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (both white). Earlier in her career, in 1998, she moved to 3 Bedford Street around the time she joined the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Even after being appointed to the Supreme Court, Sotomayor has maintained her apartment here.

Sonia Sotomayor, 2009

Another new entry in the map explores the history of 34 1/2  East 12th Street. Today it houses the Police Athletic League but originally it was Grammar School 47, built in 1855 as one of the city’s first public schools for girls at a time when most girls did not receive an education. Lydia Fowler Wadleigh, an advocate for higher education for women, was one of the charter teachers at the school, and in 1856 she reorganized the institution as the 12th Street Advanced School for Girls, offering then hard-to-find advanced courses for young women. The school became a model for providing public education to girls and young women, and a magnet for visits by prominent reformers and advocates for women including Susan B. Anthony and Henry Ward Beecher. Wadleigh remained at 12th Street until she was named “Lady Superintendent” of the newly formed Daily Female Normal School at Broadway and 4th Street in Greenwich Village (demolished), which eventually became Hunter College, one of the city’s first colleges for women.

Lydia Fowler Wadleigh (left) and Grammar School 47

In 1897, the site became the city’s first high school for girls; when that school relocated to Harlem in 1902, Girl’s Technical High School moved into the building, later changing its name to Washington Irving High School and remaining at 34 1/2 until 1913.

Other map sites examine the history of Clara Lemlich and the 1909 shirtwaist strike, which led to the founding of Women’s History Month; the residences of Lorraine Hansberry, Emma Lazarus, Inez Milholland, and more; and Mabel Ping-Hua Lee and the first women’s suffrage parade in New York City, to cite just a few. You can explore more on the map here.

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