walt whitman

Clinton Hill, History

Walt whitman way, clinton hill

Walt Whitman Way, image via Google Street View.

The corner of Dekalb Avenue and Ryerson Street in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn will be named Walt Whitman Way following a City Council vote on July 23, the Brooklyn Eagle reports. The intersection is a few avenues from 99 Ryerson Street, where the modest home in which the poet–a former Brooklyn Eagle editor–penned “Leaves of Grass” still stands. May of this year saw the the 200th anniversary of Whitman’s birth, and several efforts have also been underway to landmark the house as well.

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Features, History

Walt Whitman (1881) courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution

In his famous 1856 Poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Walt Whitman writes to future New Yorkers, “I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence, just as you feel when you look on the river and the sky, so I felt,…I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine, I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan Island.” Whitman, who so deeply captured the experience of living in this city, left his mark not only on Brooklyn and Manhattan, but also on the world as the father of free verse poetry, and one of America’s greatest artists. Since this year marks Whitman’s 200th birthday, we’re joining the ongoing celebration of his life and work by returning to the streets he walked, following in his footstep to 10 sites across New York associated with the poet.

Walk With Whitman

Clinton Hill, Historic Homes, History, Landmarks Preservation Commission

walt whitman, 99 ryerson street, LPC

Photo of Whitman via Wikimedia; Photo of 99 Ryerson Street via NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

A coalition of preservationists, LGBT groups and literary experts is asking the Landmarks Preservation Commission to reassess their decision last year to not landmark Walt Whitman’s Brooklyn home, the last residence of the 19th-century poet remaining in New York. Located at 99 Ryerson Street in Clinton Hill, the home was where Whitman and his family lived between May 1, 1855 and May 1, 1856.

While living at the home, Whitman wrote “Leaves of Grass,” a collection of poems considered to be one of the most significant American works ever. The home is also one of the earliest extant buildings in NYC associated with a member of the LGBT community.

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