Effort to Landmark Walt Whitman’s Brooklyn Home Gains Political Support From City Council Members

Photo by Susan De Vries

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There may still be some hope for the designation of Walt Whitman’s former home at 99 Ryerson Street in Wallabout.

The efforts of a coalition of preservationists, scholars and fans of Whitman got a boost Monday from six New York City Council members who signed a letter of support for designation.

Speaker Corey Johnson along with Council Members Daniel Dromm, Laurie A. Cumbo, Ritchie Torres, Carlos Menchaca and Jimmy Van Bramer all signed a May 21 letter to Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan stressing the cultural importance of the house. They urge the designation of the house because of its connection to Whitman and its significance to the LGBTQ community.

The significance of Whitman and his residence to world culture cannot be understated. Needless to say, as one of the first Americans to express same-sex desire in literature, Whitman has a special place in LGBTQ history and designating the house would help address the dearth of landmarked LGBTQ sites.

Photo by Susan De Vries

Photo by Susan De Vries

You can read the full letter here.

A request for evaluation (RFE) of the building for landmarking was submitted to the LPC in the fall of 2017. Despite the LPC verdict that the residence didn’t merit designation because of its altered state and slim connection to Whitman, advocates have been pressing forward with designation efforts.

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