Julia Wertz, "Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City" (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2017)


Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2017) is a comically illustrated chronicle of a young woman’s exploration of the metropolis, its streets, shops, subway, garbage dumps and apartments (inside and out). A flaneur par excellence, cartoonist Julia Wertz, strolls through her beloved Greenpoint and Carroll Gardens , then over the Bridge to the East Village, up to Harlem, and the Bronx calling attention in cartoons and precise drawings to what you might overlook––curbs, pavements, lamp posts. fire alarms and building facades. She pops into old drug stores, and movie theaters, ever on the lookout for material evidence of the vanishing city. In recalling Kim’s Video, Optima Cigars, and pinball, she risks lapsing into nostalgia. But in summoning up the lives of difficult, dangerous, and intrepid city women––abortionist Madam Restell, muckraking reporter, Nellie Bly, Typhoid Mary and the murderous Lizzie Halliday, she reminds us that especially for the gentle sex, “life back in the day” was not so great.

James Wunsch, Emeritus Professor of Historical Studies, Empire State College (SUNY)

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James Wunsch

James Wunsch is Emeritus Professor of Historical and Educational Studies at SUNY Empire State.

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