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Celebrate Women’s History in Philadelphia

March 1, 2023

There are many ways to celebrate women’s history throughout Philadelphia, including visiting museum exhibitions and murals honoring influential women, attending special events, and savoring the menus at women-owned restaurants around the city.

Visit museums celebrating women’s history

Several local museums have exhibitions on view featuring work by women artists and profiling key moments throughout women’s history in Philadelphia and the United States.

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

Photo courtesy of Historic Philadelphia.

The Betsy Ross House — the former home of Betsy Ross, a flag maker who stitched flags for the federal government for over 50 years who is believed to have sewn the first American flag — is dedicated to telling Betsy’s story along with the stories of other women throughout history. During their visit, guests will learn about Betsy’s life as a businesswoman and working mother in early America. As they journey into the more than 250-year-old house, they’ll discover where Betsy and other artisans and shopkeepers lived before the building opened as a museum in 1898. Guests will be told the story behind the first Stars and Stripes, which Congress adopted as the country’s official national flag on June 14, 1777, a date now nationally recognized as Flag Day.

The House also regularly hosts events and programs recounting the contributions of other women who made their mark on American history, just like Betsy. Located in Old City in the heart of the Historic District, the House is just steps away from other historical sites including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell — both part of Independence National Historical Park.

In the Barnes Foundation’s exhibit, “Sue Williamson & Lebohang Kganye: Tell Me What You Remember,” two of South Africa’s most acclaimed contemporary artists and members of the “born free” generation share how they have used their work to navigate their difficult inheritance. The exhibit incorporates films, photographs, installations, and textiles to show how the stories our elders pass on to us can shape family narratives and personal identities.

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.

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

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 taken away, in an online exhibit called “When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story.” 

Virtual exhibits from The Rosenbach and Brandywine River Museum of Art are also available.

For more exhibits on view now, click here.

Stay in a Philadelphia hotel honoring women leaders

There is a fireplace along the wall to the left. A large white bed is to the right, with a blue velvet bedframe. Floral-printed pillows sit on top of the white  blanket. Other furniture in the room include a chase lounge at the foot of the bed, two yellow chairs, multiple stone tables. A large mirror is at the farthest most end of the room. The wallpaper is green and beige with a floral print.

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 now occupies what was once 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

Support Philadelphia’s women-owned restaurants and businesses

Philadelphia’s culinary scene is bursting with women-owned and women-led eateries.

Check out Bridget Foy’s along South Street or Rittenhouse-area options including El Merkury, Ellen Yin’s a.kitchen and Aimee Olexy’s The Love.

In South Philadelphia, seek out Essen Bakery and River Twice in Passyunk Square. Don’t miss the Argentine menu of Jezabel’s Café in West Philadelphia. Check out the acclaimed Kalaya in Fishtown. 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.

Shop from women-owned boutiques and shops

Philadelphia is home to an impressive collection of women-owned businesses, including many boutiques and storefronts worth supporting all year round.

Three women stand in front of a storefront. The woman to the left of the front door has reddish hair and is wearing a jean jacket over a long navy dress with brown boots. The woman in the middle has dark hair and is wearing a dark short sweater over a brightly colored pink and blue dress with black stockings and shoes on. The woman to the right also has dark hair. She wears a black dress, purple leggings and black shoes. The windows of the storefront show Philadelphia-themed gifts and souvenirs for sale.

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

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. Aspiring chefs can stock up on quality kitchen utensils in the historic Italian Market at Fante’s Kitchen Shop.

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.  

London-born Elena Brennan – who won a Gold Award for International Best Business Woman of the Year for 2021 – is the owner of BUS STOP Boutique, just one of the many women-owned businesses in South Street Headhouse District.  

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

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 called Timeless Journey: Patti La Belle in West Philadelphia.

A colorful mural decorates the side of a building. Two young children's faces are on the edge of the mural to the left. Words of a poem are scattered throughout the art. Paper cranes are shown, along with a colorful bowl with smaller paper cranes. Another child's face is off in the right corner of the mural.

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

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.

Tour women’s history in Philadelphia

On the side of a building, a large colorful mural shows multiple women. In front of the mural, there are several parked cars. A tour guide stands in front of the mural, holding a portrait in her one hand as she addresses a group in front of her.

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).

Learn 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.

Join Philly Girls Who Walk

Lace up your sneakers and join Philly Girls Who Walk on a stroll through Philadelphia. The group was created to provide a safe community for anyone in the city who wants to go for a walk, make new friends, or just get outside. Despite its name, the group is not exclusive to women. The group is open to whoever wants to join, including pets. Each walk lasts about an hour and covers about three miles. Locations, dates, and times change weekly with updates posted on the group’s social media accounts.

Discover more things to do while celebrating women’s history and exploring Philadelphia.

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