Bawdy Broads and Lady Legacies: A Women’s History of Chicago - Atlas Obscura
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Chicago, Illinois

Bawdy Broads and Lady Legacies: A Women’s History of Chicago

A walking tour exploring the role of women in the formation, development, and history of Chicago.

On this one-of-a-kind tour with Field Agent Patti Swanson, you’ll discover the surprising feminism of the Red Light district, the iconic real-estate dynasty of Bertha Palmer, and the transformative social justice work carried out by generations of our city’s women.

From pioneer town to modern-day metropolis, Chicago has a rich history of powerful women breaking barriers and working hard for the rights of themselves and their communities. We’ll explore the legacies left behind by ladies across the worlds of entertainment, politics, art, crime-scene investigation, business, and education, and discuss how and why Chicago was the place they were able to make their mark.

In addition to celebrating this remarkable history, the tour will discuss intersectional feminism, the shortcomings of our past, and what challenges still lie ahead for women in Chicago and beyond.

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain... until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” —Jane Addams, Chicago social reformer, 1910


There will be a limited number of $25 early bird tickets; general admission tickets are $30. 


Meet Field Agent Patti Swanson outside the Monroe Street entrance to The Palmer House Hilton.

To get there by public transportation, take the Monroe Red Line. For those driving, paid parking available at 55 W. Monroe.


  • Rain or shine.
  • ADA Access limited by the quality of Chicago’s sidewalks.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes and weather-appropriate clothing.
  • Restrooms will not be available along this route.


Email Patti Swanson at

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Advance tickets only. All sales final. No refunds or exchanges.