The Female NY Giants before a baseball game in 1913; via Library of Congress
It’s not surprising one of the original observances of Women’s History Month got its start in New York in 1909; the first women’s rights convention in the U.S. happened upstate at Seneca Falls, the first large-scale suffrage parade ran through the city and in 1917, the state became the first on the East Coast to grant women suffrage. A century later, there are countless ways to celebrate Women’s History Month in New York City, so to narrow it down, we’ve rounded up 15 feminist-friendly bookstores, art galleries, and educational events. Whether you want to shop for girl-power-themed swag at Bulletin or enjoy a female-led mediation session at the United Nations, there’s something empowering for everyone this month.
Bookstores & Shops
27 Prince Street, Nolita, Manhattan
Started as a humble side hustle in 2015, Bulletin now has two brick-and-mortar Etsy-esque stores in the city, one in Nolita and another in Williamsburg, in addition to their online shop. As a female-led retail store, Bulletin features female-run digital brands to offer shoppers unique and affordable apparel, accessories and more. While formerly exclusively online, Bulletin rents out sections of their stores on a month-to-month basis. Plus, it gives 10 percent of all proceeds to Planned Parenthood of New York City (the company has raised $80,000 for PP to date). Ali Kriegsman, one of the founders of Bulletin, told the New York Times: “We think of Broads as both a store and feminist brand collective. It’s where like-minded women can meet and create a small of hub of resistance.” Don’t miss items made specifically to celebrate International Women’s Day here.
2. Cafe con Libros
724 Prospect Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Self-labeled as a feminist bookstore, Cafe con Libros recently opened in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. According to its website, the bookstore “aims to provide space for anyone seeking a community of readers and thinkers and, to spread the love of reading as a source of healing and joy.” In addition to its empowering feminist-friendly collection, the store offers cheap coffee and espresso (all drinks are $4 and under) as well as teas. A monthly book club will be held; find out the club’s book of the month here.
35 East First Street, East Village, Manhattan
A studio-store hybrid, Otherwild sells a carefully curated selection of products from artists, designers, jewelers, publishers and more. Located in the East Village (there’s also a Los Angeles location), the modern boutique is committed to supporting grassroots and national social justice organizations. Popular products include the company’s “Resister” pins and tee-shirts as well as “The Future is Female” tees and tanks. And for those looking to contribute, the store is always looking for new designers and will accept submissions via email. Otherwild sells products online as well.
172 Allen Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
While Bluestockings’ feminist roots remain, the store has evolved from a strictly feminist-only store into a collectively-owned “radical bookstore, fair trade cafe and activist center.” The Lower East Side staple features more than 6,000 titles on topics like queer and gender studies, feminism, race and black studies, climate and the environment, as well as plenty of poetry and works of fiction. Bluestockings hosts events and readings that tend to focus on topics like social change and activism.
5. Sister’s Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center
1942 Amsterdam Avenue at 156th Street, Washington Heights, Manhattan
In 2000, Janifer Wilson opened Manhattan’s only black-owned bookstore on Amsterdam Avenue, Sister’s Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center. Ever since, the bookstore has served as an important community resource, with its motto “Knowledge is Key” headling its mission. The bookstore features great African American authors and other notable writers. In addition to bringing in a diverse group of authors for readings, Sister’s hosts spoken-word and live music events.
6. Diana Kane
229-B Fifth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn
It all started with a simple T-shirt with one word embossed on the front: “Feminist.” Sold at women’s retailer Diana Kane in Park Slope, the shirt quickly became a hot-ticket item in 2016 when many New Yorkers hoped the country would elect its first female president. The “feminist gold” shirt is likely one of the store’s biggest selling item. Diana Kane has strongly embraced feminism since, claiming on its website “we’re here pushing our feminist agenda out into the world.” In addition to its girl-power shirts, the store offers handmade collections and crafty, sustainable items.
Exhibits & Art Galleries
Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue & 103rd Street, Harlem
Last year, New York celebrated its 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote statewide in 1917. To recognize the last century of women in politics and the suffrage centennial, the Museum of the City of New York in October opened an exhibit, Beyond Suffrage: A Century of New York Women in Politics, which examines the struggle of women for equal rights even after major events like the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention and the state’s electoral change in 1917. With artifacts, photographs and audio-visual materials, the exhibit, on view through April 5, traces women’s political activism of the 20th century in New York City and beyond.
This month the museum will host programs that coincide with the exhibit, including a talk on March 25 titled “A City Made by Women: New Perspectives,” with the new executive editor of Teen Vogue, Samhita Mukhopadhyay. On April 5, Norma Kamali discusses feminism in the fashion industry with a co-founder of Refinery 29, Christene Barberich. Find more information about MCNY’s Beyond Suffrage programs here.
8. Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
The Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Founded in 2007, the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is dedicated to the feminist artwork from various time periods. The space measures over 8,000 square feet and includes a gallery devoted to The Dinner Party, a piece of art by Judy Chicago which represent 39 women by place settings with an additional 999 names inscribed onto the table. The artwork is made of a triangular table divided by three wings, each 48 feet long. According to the center’s website, its mission is to raise “feminism’s cultural contributions, to educate new generations about the meaning of feminist art, and to maintain a dynamic and welcoming learning environment.”
9. Nasty Women of the Met Tour
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Led by guides of Shady Ladies Tours, the Nasty Women of the Met is a can’t-miss informative tour for feminist-history buffs. The two-hour tour takes you through three centuries of powerful women, starting with ancient Egypt all the way to the present-day United States. Other glass-ceiling breakers discussed include the first official Roman Empress, a woman scientist of pre-Revolutionary France and many female artists. Book your tour here.
10. Hotbed at the New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West, Upper West Side, Manhattan
The New-York Historical Society’s installation hones in on the active political scene of Greenwich Village during the early 20th century with over 100 artifacts and images. Hotbed examines the lively activism of the Manhattan neighborhood, in particular, the women who fought for the right to “control their own bodies, do meaningful work, and above all, vote.” Open until March 25, exhibit tickets cost $21 for adults and $6 for children aged 5-13 years old.
Classes, Lectures & Fun
11. Women’s UN Peace Summit
United Nations Headquarters, 45th Street and First Avenue, Manhattan
To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 9, the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the UN is hosting an event dedicated to meditation and mindfulness. The summit, “Women Leadership Advancing the Culture of Peace,” will be held at the United Nations and feature UN dignitaries discussing the role of women in spreading peace, as well as the UN’s role in advancing the spiritual movement achieved through yoga and meditation. The first female and non-Indian Siddha Master in history, Yogmata Keiko Aikawa, will be the keynote speaker and demonstrate methods of mindfulness. Aikawa brought yoga from India to Japan 60 years ago and has since become an advocate for women and children. The free event takes place on Friday, March 9 from 6:30 pm to 9 pm. Register here.
Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at MOMA in 2015; via Wikimedia
12. Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon
Despite being the most popular reference website with more than 40 million articles, Wikipedia suffers from gaps in coverage of women, feminism and the arts. To close this gap (less than 20 percent of Wikipedia editors are women), the Art + Feminism campaign helps teach people of all gender identities and expressions to edit, update and add articles on Wikipedia, allowing for a more diverse history to be preserved. While the event is free, participants are encouraged to bring laptops and chargers. Since 2014, the group has created over 500 editing events around the world. In New York City, edit-a-thons are happening at the following locations: The Jewish Museum on March 11, the Bard Graduate Center on March 17, the Interference Archive on March 18, the SVA Library on March 24, the Museum of the City of New York on March 25 and the Knockdown Center on April 8.
13. Women’s History Month with NYC Parks Department
The New York City Parks Department will celebrate the accomplishments of NYC women this March with exhibits, concerts, sports programming and more. Noted events include “She’s On Point! A Celebration of Girls in Sports,” an event celebrating achievements of female athletes, and “Arts, Culture & Fun,” which offers guests a night of jazz in the park led by local female artists. Plus, tours will be given of High Rock Park, Gravesend Cemetery and Pelham Bay Park, to uncover the influential women behind many of these parks. If you can’t make it to these events, be sure to check out the city’s parks and monuments named for women.
14. Alice Austen House
2 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island
Whether or not it’s Women’s History Month, the Alice Austen House in Staten Island always provides an important lesson in feminism. The museum honors prolific photographer, Alice Austen, with exhibits of both her life and work. The Alice Austen House will offer two events in honor of Women’s History Month. On March 10, Staten Island historian Pat Salmon discusses the borough’s most famous and infamous women during “The Powerful Women of Staten Island’s Past” talk. And on March 25, the museum celebrates the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder during the “Staten Island OutLOUD” event.
Ella Fitzgerald performing in NYC in 1947 via Wikimedia
15. Women’s Jazz Festival & Women Photographers of the African Diaspora at NYPL
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, Harlem
The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will host multiple events in honor of Women’s History Month. The center’s annual Women’s Jazz Festival features female jazz performers and explores the continued influence of women on the evolution of jazz, as well as honors the past stars. The festival is slated for March 5, 12, 19 and 26; find more information about it here.
In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, the center will host a talk focused on the book MFON, which provides a global insight from women photographers of African descent. The conversation includes award-winning photographers Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Fabiola Jean-Louis, Renee Cox and Nona Faustine. The free event will be followed by a book signing.
- Women’s History Month began in New York in 1909 to honor the city’s garment workers’ strike
- MAP: Explore the women’s suffrage movement through the lens of NYC landmarks
- INTERVIEW: Legendary architect Beverly Willis on gender equity in the building and design industry
Tags : Women's History Month