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The Women of Washington Square

March 14, 2019

For a period of more than 100 years, starting in the 1850’s, Washington Square was home to a diverse, active, and innovative group of women, many of them “overlooked and underappreciated” as described by our lecturer. They were attracted to the area’s creativity, affordability, and intellectualism (it was the home of NYU). They came from all walks of life, from poor to wealthy, and represented different cultures and backgrounds.  They were society figures, factory workers, immigrants, artists, poets, feminists, political activists, academics, and writers, who left their mark in many different ways. Among them were Pulitzer Prize winners (Edna St Vincent Millay and Edith Wharton), poets (Emma Lazarus whose famous words appear on the Statue of Liberty), the first woman cabinet member (Frances Perkins) and a co-founder of the ACLU (Chrystal Eastman). More recently, current Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor spent a portion of her formative years here.  Joyce Gold concluded her talk with a line from the play, “A Wonderful Town,” by saying “Who knows what future greats live in these twisting alleys?”  Indeed, who knows?