Untold Stories of the Women Who Built New York

Illustration: Hallie Heald

In her new book The Women Who Made New York, writer and reporter Julie Scelfo traces unknown histories of famous and lesser-known women who made the city a cultural capital. She profiles women like Yoko Ono, civil rights activist Ella Baker, Brooke Astor, socialite A’Lelia Walker, and Patti Smith.

“Many are famous, like Billie Holiday and Eleanor Roosevelt,” Scelfo writes in the book’s introduction. “Others led quieter, private lives, but were just as influential — like Emily Warren Roebling, who completed the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge after her engineer husband became ill. … This book is merely a first step, a history that is unavoidably complete.”

The book began as a list of 25 names and expanded to include dozens of women including Diane Arbus, Tina Fey, Grace Jones, Iris Apfel, and many others. Striking illustrated portraits by artist Hallie Heald appear throughout the book — click ahead for a preview.

Photographs excerpted from The Women Who Made New York by Julie Scelfo. Copyright © 2016. Available from Seal Press, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Untold Stories of the Women Who Built New York