Celebrate Women’s History Month in Philadelphia

March 8, 2022

March is Women’s History Month, and there are a number of ways to honor and celebrate throughout Philadelphia, including museum exhibitions, murals honoring influential women, special events, and more, including several ways to savor the menus at women-owned restaurants around the city.

Honor Harriet Tubman outside of Philadelphia City Hall

The Journey to Freedom on view outside of Philadelphia City Hall. Photo by J. Ryan for PHLCVB.

In celebration of both Black History Month and Women’s History Month, as well as to commemorate her 200th birthday, The Journey to Freedom is dedicated to iconic abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The 9-foot tall sculpture can be found on the North Apron of Philadelphia City Hall. The statue shows a brave Tubman guiding a young girl. Tubman found refuge in Philadelphia after escaping slavery herself. She used the Underground Railroad’s network of homes and churches in Philadelphia to lead nearly 70 people to freedom. The Journey to Freedom will stand tall through the end of March to honor Tubman’s legacy.

Celebrate women throughout history at the Betsy Ross House

A woman portraying Betsy Ross sitting at a table inside a historic house. The woman looking at the camera and smiling.
Photo courtesy of Betsy Ross House.

The former home of Betsy Ross – believed to have sewn the first American flag – is dedicated to telling the stories of women. The Betsy Ross House in Old City is hosting a series of programs throughout March recounting the contributions of women in early America. On March 5, 2022, guests will have the chance to Meet the Women of the Betsy Ross House. During this event, guests will meet Betsy’s wealthy landlord Hannah Lithgow, as well as get to interact with Betsy herself at two stages of her life: young Betsy Ross and Betsy Ashburn. On March 12, 2022, Girl Scout Founder Juliette Gordon Low will give guests a Girl Scout History lesson and tell them the story of how she started the movement 110 years ago. A Once Upon A Nation Storyteller will also share short stories centered around Girl Scouts’ success. Frances Harper – an abolitionist, suffragist and one of the first African American women to be published in the U.S. – makes an appearance at the Betsy Ross House on March 19, 2022. Then on March 26, 2022, Elizabeth Drinker, a prominent Quaker woman, will be meeting guests and sharing what it was like to live in Philadelphia in 1777. Throughout March, Storytelling Sundays at the Betsy Ross House will highlight women’s contributions to our nation’s history. For more information and to plan a visit to the Betsy Ross House, click here.

Visit exhibitions honoring women in local museums

When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807. Photo courtesy of Museum of the American Revolution.

Several local museums have exhibitions on view featuring work by women artists and profiling key moments throughout Women’s History in the United States. The National Constitution Center’s exhibit, The 19th Amendment: How Women Won the Vote, recounts the women’s suffrage movement and the ratification of the 19th Amendment with nearly 100 artifacts throughout the 3,000 square foot gallery. The National Constitution Center is also hosting special events throughout March and offering free admission on Saturday March 26, 2022 – courtesy of Wawa – in honor of Women’s History Month. On view at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Women in Motion: 150 Years of Women’s Artistic Networks at PAFA explores the artistic networks of women artists exhibiting, studying, and teaching at PAFA from its founding in 1805 to the end of World War II and Joan Semmel: Skin in the Game highlights the iconic artist’s groundbreaking paintings, including her movement-defining feminist art and activism. The Museum of the American Revolution shares the little-known story of the time period between 1776 and 1807 when women (and free people of color) could legally vote in New Jersey, and what led to that right ultimately being lost, in an online exhibit called When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story. For more Women’s History Month events at the Museum of the American Revolution, click here. Virtual exhibits from The Rosenbach and Brandywine River Museum of Art are also available.

For more exhibits on view now, click here.

Book a room at a new hotel in a historic landmark building, once home to one of the nation’s oldest and most prominent women’s empowerment organizations

Surround yourself with history inside The Guild House Hotel, a boutique luxury hotel in the heart of Philadelphia. Photo by J. Lehman.

Named one of The Best New Hotels in the World in 2022 by Travel + Leisure, the Guild House Hotel is open inside the former home of the New Century Guild, one of the nation’s oldest and most prominent women’s empowerment organizations. The boutique hotel features 12 stylish suites in a restored Victorian-era rowhouse, not far from the restaurants and storefronts of Washington Square West. Each suite is inspired by the leaders of the New Century Guild and designed by Philadelphia-based, woman-owned interior design studio ROHE Creative. The Guild House also prominently features products from local women-owned businesses throughout the property, such as coffee from Sip & Sonder and bath products from Fork & Melon. To learn more about The Guild House Hotel, and for other new hotel developments in Philadelphia, click here.

Dine and drink at women-owned restaurants, bars, and breweries and support women-owned bakeries

Philadelphia’s culinary scene is bursting with women-owned and women-led eateries. Check out Bridget Foy’s along South Street, now offering dinner Wednesdays through Sundays, as well as brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Rittenhouse-area options include El Merkury, specializing in Central American street food, Ellen Yin’s a.kitchen and Aimee Olexy’s The Love. In South Philadelphia, seek out the acclaimed Kalaya near the Italian Market or Essen Bakery and River Twice in Passyunk Square. Don’t miss the Argentine menu of Jezabel’s Café in West Philadelphia. Other women-owned and women-led eateries in Philadelphia include, REX at the Royal, Cafe Ynez, and Sor Ynez. For something sweet, support women-owned Second Daughter Baking Company, an artisan bakery on South 9th Street owned by two sisters Rhonda Saltzman and Mercedes Brooks. The two run their business out of the BOK Building with no public storefront, operating exclusively on a pre-order basis. The dynamic duo recently got a nod as James Beard Award semifinalists for Outstanding Baker.

For beer, check out woman-owned breweries including Triple Bottom Brewing and Love City Brewing in the Spring Arts District, and Philadelphia Brewing Company – one of the city’s oldest and largest breweries – located in Kensington. For wine, consider a stop at Jet Wine Bar along South Street. Grab a cup of coffee or tea at Franny Lou’s Porch, a café doubling as a warm space to engage in community activism and cultural awareness, as well as a stop on the Sisterhood Sit-In: The Trolley Tour.

To learn more about the many women who are vendors at the historic Reading Terminal Market, schedule a tour with woman-owned Taste of Philly Food Tours.

For more women-owned restaurants in Philadelphia, consult Visit Philly’s list here.

Support Sisterly Love via local events

An alliance, the Sisterly Love Collective, is comprised of women restaurateurs throughout Philadelphia – including Ellen Yin, Nicole Marquis, Jen Carroll, Bridget Foy, Jezabel Careaga, and others – who collaborate on local events including pop-up food fairs, discussions, and more. The Sisterly Love Food Fair, which pops up at different Philadelphia locations each weekend, such as the Headhouse Farmer’s Market, features items from women-owned restaurants, bakeries, and more. This year, the Sisterly Love Collective – in partnership with the Fitler Club – is hosting Sisterly Love Work/Shop, its inaugural Women’s History Month event on March 28, 2022. The event will feature a half-day workshop featuring a mix of panel discussions and demonstrations focusing on food, business, and lifestyle. The workshop will be followed by a cocktail reception, featuring dishes from women chefs and restaurateurs in Philadelphia. To learn more about a few of the women restaurateurs bringing new flavors, ideas, and cultures to Philadelphia’s celebrated food scene, click here.

Shop from women-owned boutiques, shops, and businesses

Philadelphia Independents Co-Founders Tiffica Benza, Ashley Peel and Jennifer Provost. Photo by M. Grudzinski.

Philadelphia is home to an impressive collection of women-owned businesses, including many boutiques and storefronts worth supporting during Women’s History Month (and beyond). Philadelphia is also home to London-born Elena Brennan – owner of BUS STOP Boutique – who won a Gold Award for International Best Business Woman of the Year for 2021. Brennan’s BUS STOP Boutique is just one of the many women-owned businesses in South Street Headhouse District. Shop fashion-forward, tax-free styles at Joan Shepp along Chestnut Street near Rittenhouse. Browse quirky gifts, home goods, and more at Open House or shop jewelry and accessories its sister shop, Verde – both found along 13th Street in the Gayborhood and owned by local entrepreneurs Marcie Turney and Valerie Safron. Aspiring chefs can stock up on quality kitchen utensils in the historic Italian Market at Fante’s Kitchen Shop. Philadelphia Independents in Old City sells Philadelphia-themed, locally made items, such as pillows, candles, cards, and more. For even more gifts and home essentials, visit Occasionette along East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia or The Little Apple along Main Street in Manayunk. Find a good read at Harriett’s Bookshop in Fishtown, which celebrates women writers, activists, and artists. For beauty and wellness products, stop by Freedom Apothecary on N 2nd Street, a shop empowering women to find their own freedom through self care, or Marsh + Mane on S 4th Street, a natural beauty supply store stocked with all your haircare needs with knowledgeable staff ready to help answer any haircare questions you may have. Also on S 4th Street, you’ll find Yowie, a home and life shop dedicated to curating small collections from friends, independent artists, and designers.

Explore murals honoring or created by women

Peace is a Haiku Song © 2012 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Josh Sarantitis & Parris Stancell, 1425 Christian Street. Photo by S. Weinik.

Philadelphia is home to over 4,000 murals, many by women artists or honoring influential women throughout history. On the side of the New Century Guild building — now the home of the Guild House Hotel and once home to one of the nation’s oldest and most prominent women’s empowerment organizations — and part of the Mural Mile, Women in Progress serves as a tribute to unnamed and under acknowledged women in history. Philadelphia-born singer, songwriter and Godmother of Soul, Patti LaBelle, is honored with a large mural in West Philadelphia. At 1415 Christian Street in South Philadelphia, Peace is a Haiku Song honors poet and activist, Sonia Sanchez, and includes a haiku written by Maya Angelou. For more murals honoring women, click here.

There are also plenty of artworks created by women on display in Philadelphia, including Philadelphia Muses by Meg Saligman, Convergence by Rebecca Rutstein, Untitled by Amy Sherald, and Folding the Prism by creative duo Jessie and Katey, to name a few.

Discover the “badass” women of Philadelphia’s past

Beyond the Bell Tours' Badass Women of Philadelphia walking tour highlights influential women in Philadelphia history, including several artists, such as Ann Northrup who created the Pride and Progress mural in Washington Square West. Photo by L. Hill (image from 2019).

Celebrate Women’s History Month by learning more about influential women of Philadelphia’s past on Beyond the Bell Tours’ Badass Women’s History Tour of Philadelphia. During the tour, you’ll discover interesting details of pioneering women throughout Philadelphia history, including William Penn’s wife, Hannah Callowhill Penn, who governed over Pennsylvania for 14 years following her husband’s sickness and death, making her the state’s first and only official woman leader. The tour will also highlight women artists, activists, doctors, politicians, and more, all of whom have left a lasting legacy on the city. To learn more and to book a private tour, click here.

Celebrate Black excellence and trailblazing ballerinas

On March 14, 2022, Philadelphia Ballet will host its Five Pioneering Black Ballerinas Benefit Dinner, including A Conversation with Five Pioneering Black Ballerinas at The Bellevue Hotel. The special event will include dinner, a dance performance, and a moderated panel with the five founding members of the Dance Theater of Harlem, Lydia Abarca Mitchell, Sheila Rohan, Gayle McKinney-Griffith, Karlya Shelton Benjamin and Marcia Lynn Sells. The five women are trailblazers in dance representation, whose immense impact has paved the way for new generations of performers across the country. They will share their story while encouraging the next generation of artists to continue to push forward. To purchase tickets, click here.

Help The Golden Girls solve a murder mystery

Golden Girls: Rose, Dorothy, Sophia and Blanche
A Golden Girls Murder Mystery: The Curse of Jessica Fletcher. Photo courtesy of Without a Cue Productions.

Your favorite ladies from the ’80s are throwing a party complete with comedy, acting, food, drinks, and “whodunnit” vibes. Join Rose, Dorothy, Sophia and Blanche for a unique, immersive experience called A Golden Girls Murder Mystery: The Curse of Jessica Fletcher as the four friends try to solve a murder mystery at Craft Hall in Philadelphia. Enjoy dinner and a show while celebrating woman-owned and led business Without a Cue Productions based in Bucks County, and The Golden Girls, the beloved show that was groundbreaking for its time for having all four leads be women. Guests will get to sip cocktails and play detective as the Golden Girls mingle with the audience and entertain the crowd with their iconic banter. Opening night is March 5, 2022. Tickets are on sale now. In honor of Betty White, a portion of ticket sales (a dollar from each ticket sold) will be donated to the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). For tickets and more information about the show, click here.

Cover photo courtesy of the Betsy Ross House and Historic Philadelphia.

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