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Iconic Women in New York’s History

March 6th, 2019 | Corporate Travel

March is the month to honor all the women who have walked on this planet. New York has seen its fair share of driven women who have helped, in one way or another, to shape the city and influence change. Here are just a few of them.

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (1874-1948)

Influence: Art

Let’s start with a member of one of the most prominent families in New York’s history. Abby Rockefeller, wife of tycoon John D. Rockefeller, was an admirer of 20th Century art. She began an impressive collection of works by European modernists and conceived the idea of founding The Museum of Modern Art. The MOMA opened in 1929 exhibiting works of Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas, Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso and Seurat.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

Influence: Racial and Gender Equality

Wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt is another woman who didn’t just stand behind her husband. Born and raised in New York, she became a world spokesperson for human rights. She used her prominence to speak in favor of social and racial reform, but she was also a United Nations delegate, social worker and advocate for women’s labor rights.

Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

Influence: Literature

Edith Wharton was born into privilege but instead of spending her life in balls or at the opera, she set out to document and critique the life of New York’s elite. Her novel “The Age of Innocence” won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which made her the first woman to receive that award. This novel depicts and criticizes the exclusive and conservative lifestyle of New York’s aristocracy in the early 20th Century. Other popular novels that revolve around the same theme are “The House of Mirth” and “The Custom of the Country.”

margaret-brown-honoring-carpathia-captainBrown giving Carpathia Captain Arthur Henry Rostron an award for his service in the rescue of survivors of the Titanic.

Margaret Brown

Influence: Philanthropy

Most commonly known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” Maggie Brown was a first-class passenger of the Titanic. The story of how she was trying to convince a Titanic officer to return to look for survivors is well-known. While on board the Carpathia, she organized a Survivors’ Committee to help raise money for the second- and third-class passengers, offer emotional support and address their needs. She also insisted on honoring the Carpathia crew and captain for rushing to aid the Titanic victims.

Alva Belmont (1853-1933)

Influence: Women’s Suffrage Movement

One of the most prominent American suffragists is Alva Belmont, who said, “Pray to God. She will help you.” She was once married to William Vanderbilt, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, but divorced him and married Oliver Belmont, another socialite. She was deeply involved in the women’s suffrage movement, joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association and was elected president of the National Woman’s Party. Over the years she gave financial aid to the movement in New York, wrote articles, organized rallies and was one of the leaders of New York City's 1912 Women's Votes Parade.