Just another Looking for Whitman weblog

Where Jennifer found Whitman

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferying at 1:12 pm on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I found Whitman at the promenade in Ikea at Red Hook, Brooklyn. I found Whitman here because the boats in the background really appeal to me. In the poem “Mannahatta”, Whitman speaks about the steamships and shuttles and the ones in the background reminded me of what he wrote. The background had no skylines like today’s Manhattan and I felt like the scenery was like Manhattan during Whitman’s times, where when you looked out from Brooklyn to Manhattan, the tall buildings werent’ built yet. The water taxi’s also arrives and departs here which is another reason why I found Whitman here, the water taxi’s are like the modern day shuttle ferries from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

reflective post

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferying at 1:24 am on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This course was very different from all the other courses that I’ve taken before. When I first signed up for a Literature course, I did not expect the class to be like this. This class was much more advanced in technology then any other English courses I’ve taken. I had in my mind that we would read and write papers throughout the course. We did do that but the way we wrote our papers in this class; it was more enjoyable in my opinion. I like that we had blogs to write our weekly posts because although it is like handing in a paper every week, it wasn’t like writing an essay every time. Our blog posts were more of casual writing then an essay.
Another thing I enjoyed about this class was the walking tours we went on. I did not only learn about Whitman and his literature but also about many historic landmarks in Brooklyn. The walking tours were like mini field trips and they were great experiences. It was nice to get out of the classrooms and go to these places in Brooklyn that held so much history. It’s good to read and learn about the places that we went to but it was even better to go and explore the actual places.
I’ve learned a lot in this class and gained knowledge that will help me in my future. Besides learning about the works of Whitman, I also learned other things like creating a blog and flickr, I also learned new ways of researching and this will definitely be helpful to me in my future.

Franklin Evans

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferying at 2:54 pm on Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Franklin Evans

When I started to read Franklin Evans, the term “temperance” kept coming up, but I was not clear of what it meant. When I was reading the introduction to Franklin Evans, in the Whitman and Social Reform section, I read that Whitman was asked to compose a temperance novel for the New World. I had no idea what a temperance novel was either. The first lines were “Due largely to Whitman’s capacity for self-mythologizing, readers today may know more about the events leading to the writing of Franklin Evans than about the novel itself.” I concluded from this that the term temperance was used for events or happenings that occurred during the era that Franklin Evans was published. Also in the same section, it is stated that “Temperance fiction was highly formulaic, abounding with sensational scenes of sin, corruption, and violence.” I had an idea of what a temperance novel was afterwards but in my head I had doubts that Franklin Evans incorporates those themes or anything similar in the book because Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was absolutely the opposite of a temperance novel.  And then once I started to read the novel, I was getting the sense that the writing was indeed different. This novel is about a young man, Franklin Evans who travels to America in search for the New World. Yet once he arrives, series of events happens to him, for example, like when he goes bankrupt and starts engaging in drinking. Although Whitman jokes about how he wrote this temperance novel in a matter of 3 days while he was drunk off cocktails, as stated in the introduction, “Franklin Evans is not so different from the figures of failed reform that  populate American media today: those who cannot stop eating, cheating, or defrauding stockholders.” I feel like this is true because even today, these events are still happening.

jennifer for dec 1st

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferying at 2:53 pm on Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Last week, we went on a walking tour around Fort Greene Park. I was very fascinated by this park because it is very different from the areas surrounding it. CityTech, located in downtown Brooklyn is about 20 minutes from the park, which is noisy and like a crowded city area. Yet once you walk into the park, it feels like you’re in a totally different place. The scenery of the park is so calming, the auburn colors of the falling leaves, children playing soccer, joggers running and elders walking their dogs. It was like in the middle of a busy city, this park was a relaxation rest area. Not only is this park a nice place for a walk, the history of the park is captivating as well. When I arrived at the park, I went to meet my class at the monument, the monument was huge, and it was very tall and looked like one large column. The monument was devoted to the prisoners during the American Revolution. We also walked along Myrtle Ave to 99 Reyson Street. The only building that Whitman lived in that is still standing today.
Greg, the tour leader showed us the first edition of Leaves of Grass, published in 1855 and Whitman here is dressed like a regular, common person.


Nicole from our tour guide staff, singing Freedom

Nicole from our tour guide staff, singing Freedom. Class walking towards the monument.

Plaque in front of the monument.

Plaque in front of the monument.

At the steps of the monument, Nicole sang Freedom to Ode

At the steps of the monument, Nicole sang Freedom to OdeLooking up at the monument.

Greg showed us his vintage postcards of the monument and park.

Greg showed us his vintage postcards of the monument and park.

Walking down the steps to see the vault where they held the remains of the prisoners.

Walking down the steps to see the vault where they held the remains of the prisoners.

The door to the vault is to the left, it is a teal colored steel door.

The door to the vault is to the left, it is a teal colored steel door. Class walking to exit the park.

Fort Greene Park sign in the background, here Greg was telling us about the history of some of the addresses Whitman lived at.

Fort Greene Park sign in the background, here Greg was telling us about the history of some of the addresses Whitman lived at. Class walking to exit the park.Walt Whitman houses on Myrtle Ave across the street from the park Class walking to 99 Reyson Street.

This is 99 Reyson Street, the building that Whitman once lived in. It is the same foundation, just that the building has been renovated throughout the years.

This is 99 Reyson Street, the building that Whitman once lived in. It is the same foundation, just that the building has been renovated throughout the years.

 The tour was a great experience for me, I learned alot about the Park and it’s history and it was great to go see the actual building Whitman once resided at because it is the only building that is still in standing today.

jennifer for nov 10

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferying at 10:52 pm on Monday, November 9, 2009


Last week, our class met up at the Brooklyn Historical Society to learn about how we can find the history of certain places and buildings. We were taught by Elizabeth, the librarian that guided us, on how to do house and building research. I learned that there are so many ways we can dig up the history of just one building. There are historic atlases which are fire insurance maps and it shows Brooklyn block by block. Then there are land conveyances, which are documents that show the seller and buyers information of the building that was being sold. At the Brooklyn Historical Society, there are so many information providers such as Brooklyn directories, image database, architecture books. There is not only 1 Brooklyn directory; there are 3 types you can choose from for your research. You can search by Name or Address or even by Blue books which is a collection of social directories. We also have access to the Brooklyn & Long Island Scrapbook Collection and Real Estate Brochure Collection. The Brooklyn and Long Island Scrapbook Collection is a collection of newspaper articles from the 1860’s to the 1960’s. The articles are put into microfiche today. Microfiche is like a small sheet of microfilm that can store pages to preserve them. The Real Estate Brochure Collection holds real estate brochures, mostly is organized by neighborhood that advertise new apartment buildings from the 1920’s to the 1950’s.

This was my first time visiting the Brooklyn Historic Society and I was very particular fascinated by the architectural designs of the library located on the second floor. It looked like everything was made out of wood, and the stacks on the shelf I can tell was very old books. It looked very vintage but at the same time, it appealed like a grand library to me. When I was walking around the library, I can tell it holds a lot of history. This was a great experience for me; I learned a lot of new things, new methods of researching and also new sources that I can research from.

jennifer for october 27

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferying at 4:27 pm on Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Last week, Prof. Gold and Jesse Merandy took us on a walking tour to explore the places that Whitman had been in Brooklyn.
One stop that I personally enjoyed most was the the Brooklyn Promenade stop. The view looking out from the Brooklyn Promenade out to Manhattan was magnificent. Usually when I am on the BQE from Brooklyn traveling to the city, there is a part where I can see the Brooklyn Promenade above me, and I always see people with cameras snapping pictures, and last week I got to share the same views that the photographers were seeing all this time. The view is absolutely gorgeous, you can see the Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge to the right, to the far left you can see the statue of liberty and below you can see an ongoing construction site. In the water, you can actually see the ferries too.  At the Brooklyn Promenade, we were able to see Manhattan, a city that Whitman had much interest for and wrote about in his poem “Manahatta.”

brooklyn promenade 2The pictures I took only shows minimal scenery of what the Brooklyn Promenade has to offer, but we can still see the Manhattan skyline and clear skies.
brooklyn promenade 1

by Walt Whitman

I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.
Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly,
musical, self-sufficient,
I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays, superb,
Rich, hemm’d thick all around with sailships and steamships, an
island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender, strong,
light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies,
Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining
islands, the heights, the villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters, the
ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model’d,
The down-town streets, the jobbers’ houses of business, the houses
of business of the ship-merchants and money-brokers, the
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week,
The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses, the
brown-faced sailors,
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing clouds aloft,
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the river,
passing along up or down with the flood-tide or ebb-tide,
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form’d,
beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes,
Trottoirs throng’d, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the shops and shows,
A million people–manners free and superb–open voices–hospitality–
the most courageous and friendly young men,
City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city!

The poem “Manhatta” is Whitman’s admiration for Manhattan and it shows his interest for the city.

“Mother, Father, Water, Earth, Me…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferying at 3:49 pm on Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In chapter 3 -“Mother, Father, Water, Earth, Me..” of Walt Whitman A Life by Justin Kaplan, there was a part which interested me a lot. It is on page 67, the last paragraph; it was about an event that occurred in June 1829 when Whitman was 10 years old. The Fulton, which was the first steam vessel to be built by a government, blew up in the morning in the Brooklyn Navy yard. It was written that a disaffected sailor had fired the powder magazine. This explosion caused the deaths of forty or fifty crew members. This event also happened to be described by Justin Kaplan as Whitman’s “most vivid recollection from his five or six years in the common school was a dull shock, something like an earthquake, he imagined.”  The funeral that was held a few days later moved Whitman to tears.

“With music strong I come, “ he wrote in “Song of Myself,”

… with my cornets and my drums,
I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for
                     conquer’d and slain persons.

                                        .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
I beat and pound for the dead,
I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest for them.

 Within the few lines of the excerpt from Whitman’s Song of Myself poem, we see how enthuse Whitman was for the deceased crewmembers. Being the age of 10 at the time of the incident, I can only imagine what was going through Whitman’s mind. It was a tragic incident for anyone to remember, and consider this being one of Whitman’s most vivid recollections at the age of 10; it must’ve been a rather immense experience for him. Thinking back, I cannot recall a memory from when I was 10, not even how my birthday went. For Whitman, the tragic event was still in his memory.

pumpkin picking and whitman..

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferying at 9:04 pm on Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yesterday I went to a farm in Long Island to go pumpkin picking and I was at a red light, the GPS said that my destination was nearby, maybe like 2-3 minutes away but the area did not look farm-ish at all. There were office buildings around so I started looking around to see if there is actually a farm nearby, and when I looked up , in front of me, was this sign that said “Walt Whitman”, the sign was a few cars ahead but it was clear enough to read that it said Walt Whitman. I was really shocked so I grabbed my camera and tried to snap some pictures. I only got to snap two pictures because the light turned green and I was on my way to the farm.. PA100101

But I find it really amazing how in the randomist places, you can find Whitman because I’ve been trying to take pictures of Whitman items or things that remind me of him but I haven’t had any luck, so it was really great when i saw that street sign. It was like a sign of him telling me that he does exist.

and the  the farm was nearby and heres me with all the pumpkins 😀

And have a great columbus day everyone!

“In 1819, Walt Whitman was born at a farmhouse in West Hills built by his father circa 1810. The Birthplace was restored in 2001 and it is a fine example of native Long Island craftsmanship. The Birthplace is the only NYS Historic Site on Long Island listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1998, the White House Millennium Council named it an “American Treasure.” In 2007, the Walt Whitman Trail, which begins at the Birthplace, was designated a National Recreational Trail by the US Dept. of the Interior.”

The signs were actually pointing to a Walt Whitman historic site. The site is call The Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site, and it is an attraction of the birthplace of Whitman. Whitman’s father built the house himself in 1819. The historic site is located at 246 Old Walt Whitman Road, South Hungtington, NY 11743.

Here is an image of the historic site today. Which is also the house Whitman was born in. slideshow01


crossing brooklyn ferry

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferying at 3:46 am on Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
“Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes,
         how curious you are to me!
On the ferry- boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross,
        returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are
          more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might
                                                                                       -Walt Whitman

oldfulton1880image source:
Here is a picture of the fulton ferry landing from 1880’s. You can see that it is very empty, just store fronts  along the side and the Brooklyn Bridge in the back, along the right side of the image. There are no skyscrappers or pedestrains walking on the streets.


whereas, above is a picture of the fulton ferry landing today. there are still crowds of men and women in causal clothes, but yet they arent so curious to me, they just look like normal new yorkers looking to relax and a nice scenery, although maybe they are curious about their sorroundings. Also, we can see sky scrappers in the background as opposed to the old fulton ferry landing, where it was just clear skies. But one thing remains the same, the Brooklyn Bridge is still stands to the right of the picture.

jennifer for october 6

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferying at 2:39 am on Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Jennifer for October 6

Walt Whitman’s New York 

In Walt Whitman’s New York, on page 115, Whitman includes an article about one of the largest fires that occurred in Brooklyn in the early 1800’s. He states that “probably the largest and most destructive that ever occurred here up to its date, or during a number of years afterward.” This must’ve been a great fright to Whitman and everyone living in New York during that time because there was no ambulances , or fast medical help, although there was fire trucks,  Whitman writes that “in those times they had only the two fire engines,” I am sure they didn’t do much to take down the fire. Whitman also states that “in 1795, the number of firemen was increased to thirty.” This destructive fire occurred in 1806, therefore there would’ve only been thirty firemen to help save the fire.  Along with two fire trucks.

I think Whitman is writing about this incident because he wants us to get a sense of how astonishing this fire caused everyone to be.  Not only did he include the article of the fire, Whitman also includes a list of following everything that was destroyed. The list mainly includes barns, houses and stables. This fire must’ve been one of the largest because even today I’ve not read an article on Brooklyn where the fire was so destructive that the land damaged can be compared to barns and stables.

 I can see why this was a big shock at the time, because as Whitman quotes “..they had a few axes and a couple of ladders, Of course, this will seem almost ridiculous to our modern Brooklyn fire laddies, with their costly and beautiful machines.” Back in the day, fire ladders were considered modern. As compared to day, we have motorized ladders.  

According to Wikipedia.Com,

A modern fire engine is usually a multi-purpose vehicle carrying professionals and equipment for a wide range of fire-fighting and rescue tasks. Therefore, most fire engines carry equipment such as ladders, pike poles, axes and cutting equipment, halligan bars, fire extinguishers, ventilating equipment, floodlights, hose ramps, breathing apparatus (BA) and general tools. Many fire appliances are based on standard truck or lorry models with heavy duty suspensions, brakes, tires, alternator, transmission and cooling systems; audible and visual warnings such as sirens, horns, and flashing lights, and a two way radio.

As compared to an old fire engine, according to Whitman,

The above engine stood about three feet in height, was eight feet in length, three in width, and two and a half in depth. It was what is termed a long-stroke engine, and worked easy, throwing a steam 60 feet, through a pipe of three-quarter inch nozzle, of six feet length. Neither hose nor suctions were used, the supply of water being furnished in buckets, by hand, poured into the box. The box held 180 gallons.

A modern fire engine compared to an old one, I look at it like, comparing a modern car to a future car that can fly and drive across water. From the descriptions of each fire engine, modern and past, we can see why the fire of 1806 was so destructive; the equipments at the time weren’t able to handle the fire, where as today, we have more enhanced fire equipments to help us in case of fires.

Here is an image of a brooklyn fire department in the 1800’s.

Here is an image of a fire truck in front of it’s department in brooklyn, today.

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