DowntownDC Call Boxes Honor Historic Women


Whether on foot, scooter, or bike, when you’re waiting at an intersection, instead of absent-mindedly looking for break in the traffic or engaging with your cellphone, take that moment to look around. You might see a building detail you hadn’t noticed before, discover a business you didn’t know was there, or experience public art that also conveys a story.

In 2019, the DowntownDC BID made that last part easier when it turned eight historical emergency call boxes into public art that celebrates prominent women in local and national history. The next time you’re passing through downtown, take a minute to find one or more of them. As D.C. historian Paul K. Williams told The Washington Post in 2021 about art going into the District’s call boxes, “Once you notice one, you’ll notice them all.”

View a map of the call box locations here.

Josephine Butler
Community leader and co-founder of the DC Statehood Party
14th and K streets NW

Katharine Graham
Longtime publisher of The Washington Post
15th and L streets NW

Julia Ward Howe
Abolitionist, suffragist, and writer of the lyrics of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”
14th and F streets NW

Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley
Seamstress and activist who bought her own freedom from slavery and served clients such as Mary Todd Lincoln
Vermont Avenue NW and K Street NW

Flora Rollins Molton
DC musician
13th and G streets NW

Alice Stokes Paul
Suffragist and leader of the National Woman’s Party
14th Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue NW | Northeast Corner

Mary Church Terrell
Civil rights activist and suffragist
14th and G streets NW

Alma Woodsey Thomas
Artist and educator
13th and G streets NW | Northeast corner

This artwork was made possible through a DC Commission on Arts and Humanities grant, which allowed the BID to put out a national call for artists and select local artist and architect Charles Bergen to create the pieces.