Theses Master's

A Room of Her Own: Housing for New York’s Working Women, 1875-1930

Yu, Qianye

Dedicated to women’s collective experience in the metropolis, my thesis consists of a survey and study of housing exclusively for self-supporting women in Manhattan, from 1875 to 1930; an analysis of why women’s residences have diminished; and a discussion of feasible preservation strategies for adapting and reusing those buildings in a way sensitive to the historical context, as well as increasing the public’s awareness of women’s residences in the city.

New York City has a rich history of women empowering themselves through collective organizing. In the industrial city, women’s political power generated from their ever-increasing role in wage-work, which endowed them with “a greater sense of self, higher expectations and greater independence from men.” The development of working women’s residences also testifies to the growth of female power and the changing notion of women’s role in a society.

The purpose of my thesis is, first of all, contributing to women’s history from the perspective of housing architecture. Secondly, my intention is to enhance the dissemination of women’s history to people who search for it, and also to communicate its significance to a broader audience. Thirdly, from the perspective of gender equality, it is important to claim an equitable representation of women’s history in the urban landscape, and to restore the memory of women’s life and work. Therefore, my preservation recommendation aims to spotlight the connections between women’s residences and the urban environment they rooted in, and to interpret them as a whole that demonstrates the rise of female power in New York City.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Dolkart, Andrew S.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 24, 2019