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March 20, 2019

A Walking Tour of New York’s Most Influential Women

With its diverse and storied history, New York is, hands down, one of the best cities in the world for sightseeing. There are plenty of bus, bicycle and walking tours to choose from, making it fantastically easy to curate a tour based on your interests. Whether you’re an architecture, literature or film buff, there are more than enough museums and historic sights to keep you busy.

This March offers a unique opportunity for adventurous visitors to learn more about the city’s trailblazing female figures. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve compiled a list of important streets, plaques and monuments that commemorate New York’s most influential women – all within walking distance from the Wagner. Grab your comfortable walking shoes and get ready to pay homage to the women that helped build and cultivate this city.

 

Louise Nevelson Plaza

Louise Nevelson Plaza was the first public space in New York to be dedicated and named after an artist, an enormous feat for a female artist. As a pioneering sculptor during the early 20th century, this one-of-a-kind sculpture garden on Maiden Lane features several of her Cor-Ten steel sculptures.

Elizabeth Jennings Place

Most of us know the courageous story of Rosa Parks, the African-American activist who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Parks’ activism was a key event in the civil rights movement in the American South and has been well recorded and documented ever since. Elizabeth Jennings’ story is less known but is just as crucial to our history. Over 100 years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the south, Elizabeth Jennings was forcefully kicked off of a streetcar in downtown Manhattan for doing the same. With the help of future president and then lawyer Chester Arthur, Jennings sued the city and integrated NYC public transportation. Years later, in 2007, a group of inspired third- and fourth-grade students petitioned the city to honor of Jennings’ brave dissention. After a year of hard work and persistence, the students succeeded in immortalizing her name on the corner of Spruce Street and Park Row, near to where the original event took place. Today, walkers-by can still see her name proudly displayed on that corner.

 

Sophie Irene Loeb Playground

Just on the other side of City Hall Park lies the Sophie Irene Loeb Playground, a public space with play equipment for young children, and seating and sculptures for all to enjoy. Sophie Irene Loeb was a social welfare advocate who established the first child welfare building in New York in 1921. As the founder of the Child Welfare Board of NYC and a powerful spokeswoman for widowed mothers, she was later given the name ‘Godmother of American Children.’

 

Emily Warren Roebling Plaque

After a beautiful walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, you can find a commemorative plaque for Emily Warren Roebling, who was instrumental in overseeing the completion of the bridge from 1869-1883. Her husband, John Roebling, was the chief civil engineer during the bridge’s initial construction, but when he fell ill during its final years, Emily dedicated her efforts to completing the task.

Want to learn more about women’s history in downtown Manhattan? Check out Opening The Way, a women’s history walk.