Start the tour at Bluestockings, a volunteer and collectively owned radical bookstore focusing on topics like feminism, queer and gender studies. Founded in 1999 and named for the mid-18th century English political movement promoting women’s discussion of literature, the store promotes female authorship and readership. Learn about the history of zines, small production and self-produced publications. Make a keepsake poster filled with women’s empowerment slogans.
Then, visit Russ and Daughters, one of the oldest and best-known Lower East Side spots for lox, bagels and appetizers. Founded in 1914, it was one of the first businesses in New York to make the daughters partners and include them in the business’s name, instead of the sons. The family still runs the store and its outposts. It was also a favorite spot of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who grew up going with her Russian Jewish immigrant parents. (Her favorite is a poppy-seed bagel with Scottish smoked salmon and caviar.)
Visit La Mama Experimental Theater Club and take a behind-the-scenes tour of the theater space with the staff. Learn the history of this theater, which has supported female playwrights and theater collectives since 1961, when the designer Ellen Stewart decided to open a theater on Ninth Street in the East Village. La Mama has been one of the most influential Off Off Broadway theaters in New York City, and gave rise to the Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Theater Collective, one of the first theater groups to write and produce feminist plays.
Head to the nearby Washington Square Park, and its beautiful and familiar arch, modeled after L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The park, so close to New York University, has seen its share of protests over the years. Jane Jacobs and Eleanor Roosevelt, both of whom lived nearby, led the protests to keep cars out of the park when the city’s powerful Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses, wanted to extend Fifth Avenue through it. You’ll see statues here of George Washington and Giuseppe Garibaldi, but where are the women? In fact, very few statues in New York City depict real women. Learn why that is starting to change, and why who gets a statue is also the subject of controversy.
Walk by 206 Thompson Street, which used to be Portofino Restaurant, a popular hangout and meeting place for lesbians. This is where Edie Windsor met Thea Speyer; Ms. Windsor’s 2013 Supreme Court case was the first legal victory for gay marriage, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and forcing the federal government and individual states to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states and countries. In turn, that decision led to the 2015 Supreme Court decision recognizing gay marriage nationally. Stop at La Newyorkina, a female-owned Latinx business, for a frozen treat and pass by Washington Square Methodist Church. In 1969, the Redstockings, a feminist action group, held their first “speak out” here, where 12 women “testified” publicly about their abortions, which were then against the law.
End at the Cubbyhole, one of the last remaining lesbian bars in the city. Have a beer or nonalcoholic drink here. (Did you know that women invented beer and used to be the only ones allowed to sell it?) Women who came to the Cubbyhole were often afraid to leave at night, for fear of being attacked or “outed,” so the bar used to offer a secret shuttle service for them.
The New York Times reading list
Inclusions: Local English-speaking guide, a beer or nonalcoholic drink, and a light snack.
Exclusions: Additional food and drinks, souvenirs and personal shopping, tips/gratuities for your guide.
Confirmation of booking: If you have your voucher, your booking is confirmed. We'll see you at the start point. Get in touch if you have any concerns or require more information via the email address or phone number (business hours only) on your voucher.
Child Policy: Under 6 not allowed: Children between the ages of 6 and 11 inclusively are permitted on this tour at the rate listed above. Please select ‘child’ above when booking. Children below the age of 6 are not permitted on this tour.