Women Alone in New York

Amid a rise in unmarried women, and two years after women were granted the constitutional right to vote, a 1922 New York Times Magazine article profiled “Women Alone in New York.” The byline was “By one of them.”

The article described both the positives of this lifestyle…

But the thing which appeals most is the very impersonality of New York life — the feeling that no one cares what you are doing or why. A woman alone causes no comment, for she is only one of thousands.

No member of the family comes tearing in to ask you to help lengthen a skirt, or tells you that the Browns are downstairs and it is only decent of you to go down. The phone doesn’t ring summoning you to serve on a committee the other members of which are hopeless imbeciles. You don’t have to do a darned thing you don’t want to.

…and the negatives:

You see them everywhere, when your mind has awakened to their presence — these women you know are living lonely, shut-in, thwarted lives, away from the sort of human contacts that make for normal, happy living. … The look is there, the hungry, cheated look which means that somehow, in the mad race of achievement, they have let life — real life — pass them by and not even through a megaphone can they call him back.

What about in the modern era? Of the 100 largest U.S. cities, New York City currently ranks #28 for the highest percentage of single women, at 60.4%.

  • #1 is Detroit at 77.4%.
  • #100 is Fremont, California at 34.7%.
  • In only 17 of the 100 largest U.S. cities is the percentage of single women below 50%.

Women Alone in New York

Published: Sunday, December 24, 1922

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