Whitman Birthplace

Walt Whitman was born in 1819 in a house in West Hills (in the town of Huntington), Long Island, built around 1810 by his father. It is now a New York State Historic Park and I visited it earlier this year when I went to Long Island to attend a wedding. The house is furnished to reflect the period when the future poet lived there, which was only until he was five years old, so it is not the sort of author-related site where you can see where his works were actually written. However, it serves as a very good monument to Whitman, with a small but informative visitor’s center exhibit which presents the story of his life. The museum is also devoted to featuring current poets, which seems a good way for a museum focusing on a poet of the past to engage the community today. The site forms a little enclosed compound of buildings, but is surrounded by strip malls and major roads. It requires some imagination to recall the time when Whitman lived here and the area was surrounded by farm fields. In the visitor center was a map of Whitman-related sites in the area. I was not able to drive around and visit these, but it would be an interesting excursion and a good way to get more images of historic homes!

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