Two Exhibitions For – and About – New York Women 

Text and photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag

For some of us, it’s hard to believe that our recent past is already “history.” But two  lively exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York serve as reminders of women’s gradual liberation, both political and sartorial. 

“Equality: Beyond Suffrage – A Century of New York Women in Politics,” and “Mod New York,” which focuses on fashion between 1960 and 73, brought back a lot of memories. I’m sure they will for others “of a certain age,” as well. 

Beyond Suffrage

New York City has always played a major role in the feminist movement. Frances Perkins, called the principal architect of The New Deal, was a workers-rights advocate in the city and state before being appointed by FDR to serve as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945. The first woman appointed to the cabinet, she was a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, whose lifelong fight for women’s equality is one of her greatest legacies. 

Perkins Plaque

Photo with Eleanor Roosevelt

The 1960s and 1970s brought “second wave feminism” led by an assortment of New York women well represented in this exhibition.  

Photo of Steinem, Abzug, Chisholm, and Friedan

RBG — Ruth Bader Ginzburg

The show also pays tribute to today’s feminists with a “pussy hat” and (sigh) some Hillary artifacts. 

If you have granddaughters, and want to give them a quick overview of the women’s fight for equality, this would be a painless place to start. 

Mod New York 

On a more frivolous note, “Mod New York” ushers in that brief period when Manhattan became the red-hot center of what Diana Vreeland called, “a Youthquake” of bold color and pattern. Jacqueline Kennedy’s lady like French-inspired clothes were replaced by hot pants, mini-skirts, thigh-high boots, hippie styles and a casual way of dressing that continues up to this day. 

African American Fashion 

First Lady Fashion

The New Nonchalance


New Bohemia  


I saw lots of women reminiscing with friends about their ‘70s outfits. It’s that kind of fun show. Totally enjoyable.

Museum of the City of New York 
103rd Street and Fifth Avenue
Beyond Suffrage – Through August 5, 2018
Mod New York – Through April 1, 2018

About Eleanor Foa Dienstag (36 Articles)
Eleanor Foa Dienstag is a veteran author, journalist, photo-journalist and award-winning corporate writer. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, the New Republic, the New York Observer, Ms., Travel & Leisure, and many other websites and publications. Eleanor is the author of three books. Her most recent, available on Amazon and Centro Primo Levi is MIXED MESSAGES: Reflections on an Italian Jewish Family and Exile. It is a multi-layered memoir about Eleanor’s personal journey, her father’s exile from Fascist Italy and the Foa Family journey, whose Italian-Jewish roots go back to the 1500s in northern Italy where her ancestors were famous printers. WHITHER THOU GOEST: The Story of an Uprooted Wife, also a memoir, was acclaimed by Business Week for its insights into corporate life. Her third book, In Good Company: 125 Years At The Heinz Table, offered a unique view of a quintessential American company. Eleanor served as staff speechwriter to the Chairman and CEO of American Express. In 1983, she founded Eleanor Foa Associates ( It provides a wide variety of corporate writing and marketing services. Eleanor is past president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), received speechwriting awards from IABC, and was awarded literary residencies at Yaddo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). She resides in Manhattan.