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Women and the Everyday City

Women and the Everyday City: Public Space in San Francisco, 1890–1915

Jessica Ellen Sewell
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Women and the Everyday City
    Book Description:

    Women and the Everyday City explores the lives of women in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Working at the nexus of urban history, architectural history, and cultural geography, Jessica Ellen Sewell offers a revealing portrait of both a major American city during its early years and the women who shaped it—and the country—for generations to come.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7534-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xxxiv)

    IN THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY, San Francisco boasted a thoroughly modern downtown, a specialized district of tall, densely packed commercial buildings. After the earthquake and fire of 1906, Market Street, San Francisco’s spine and the center of its downtown, was quickly and substantially rebuilt with stylish buildings that made up an increasingly dedicated landscape of shopping and offices, displacing other prequake institutions, including museums and religious buildings. At the intersection of Market Street and Powell Street (Figure I.1), substantial stoneclad buildings created a relatively uniform street frontage along Market, lining the sidewalk with plate-glass show windows that created a landscape...

    (pp. 1-24)

    WHEN WOMEN LIKE ANNIE HASKELL went out in public, whether shopping, going to the theater, visiting, or for any other purpose, they took to the streets in order to get to their destinations. Streets, streetcars, and ferries made up a web of transportation that connected domestic spaces to one another and to other landscapes. The streets and the public transportation that ran on them were thus the most commonly encountered and inhabited public spaces for women. They were also the spaces in which women were most publicly visible. Even in the highly domestic and feminine world of visiting, most women...

    (pp. 25-66)

    IN THIS DIARY ENTRY Annie Haskell describes the rounds of errands she made on one ordinary day. The desire to exchange a pair of rubber gloves and an appointment at an insurance agency became the basis for a trip (probably on public transportation), a meal out, and visits to a number of other stores. For Annie, as for other women at the turn of the century, the most common reason to go out in public was to run errands, especially errands that involved shopping. The daily job of managing a household, which included feeding, clothing, and looking after the health...

    (pp. 67-94)

    FROM THE LATE NINETEENTH CENTURY to the early twentieth, dining out became increasingly common for women of all class positions. As women’s roles in the workforce expanded, and as they increasingly went out to shop and for amusement as well as to work, a growing number of institutions served meals away from home to women. For women, eating out was problematic, however. In the late nineteenth century, restaurants were a space primarily for men and for escorted women. Eating in public was considered risqué for unescorted upper-and middleclass women except in a small range of establishments that catered to a...

    (pp. 95-126)

    AMUSEMENT WAS A COMMON REASON for women to go out in public at the turn of the twentieth century. During this period, working hours shortened and leisure time became more common, in large part because of the efforts of unions, which were particularly strong in San Francisco.¹ Just as the production of goods had largely moved from the home to commercial establishments, so leisure also increasingly moved from the home and the neighborhood into commercial establishments, often serving the city as a whole.² As the range of spectacles available expanded, theater owners concentrated their marketing on women, and as an...

    (pp. 127-168)

    IN 1896 AND 1911, California woman suffragists fought to win the vote in California, using a wide range of private and public spaces. In 1896, suffragists were very concerned with maintaining their propriety and femininity, often acting almost as visitors in public. In contrast, in 1911 suffragists acted as full participants in public space, secure in their rights to these spaces and willing to speak and sell publicly without fear of censure. In this chapter I examine the spatial tactics of suffragists in the California woman suffrage campaigns of 1896 and 1911 and argue that women’s use of public spaces,...

    (pp. 169-172)

    THIS BOOK ARGUES FOR A COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP between gender ideology and the built environment, a relationship that positions the modern downtown created in American cities like San Francisco at the turn of the century as central to changing attitudes about the lives of women. The built environment of San Francisco’s downtown neither directly reflected changing gender ideologies nor created them. Instead, the built and imagined landscapes of the downtown interacted with each other, often harmonizing and at other times conflicting, creating gaps that women negotiated in their everyday use of the downtown. In the 1880s, at the beginning of the...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 173-200)
    (pp. 201-224)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 225-232)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-233)