Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #26

Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)


One of the earliest and greatest pioneers of free verse poetry, Walt Whitman was born on Long Island and grew up in Brooklyn, writing frequently about the city and the feelings it evoked. Often making his living as a journalist, most notably for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Whitman released many editions of his most famous work, Leaves of Grass. Earthy, honest, frankly sexual, and deeply unconventional, Whitman’s work did not find an immediate audience. His longtime homosexual relationship with a former confederate soldier from the American Civil War did little to improve his reputation with the public at the time. But, in the years following his death, Whitman’s contribution to literature and his depictions of his environment, have become some of the most treasured in the history of American literature. He is the first poet to mention the Brooklyn Bridge by name and an excerpt from his earlier work, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, is engraved on the fence that adorns the Fulton Ferry Landing.


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