October 20, 2009

Whitman’s New York

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 11:44 am

Nicole for October 20th, 2009

New York then and New York Now. While reading Whitman Biography, as well as our readings I taught about how similar people taught about things then and now, as well as how our lives in the 21st century can translate to that period in time.

  The burdens of life, the unimaginable childhood Whitman endured. the relation-ship with is mother who passed away in 1883, the animosity he probably had towards his drunken father and the sibling diversity in which he had to be an older brother and a stand in male figure.

Today in our lives we still see this, siblings raising siblings, children becoming more mature faster than they should as people would say. But then I sit and think; are we becoming mature faster? because in Whitmans’s time by 14-15 he was already a man with a job. Is time repeating itself like fashion, are we as a society seeing the norms of our past and present lives.

In Whitmans poem Mannahatta he says ” Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week, The carts hauling goods,”. This verse can translate to now, there are so many immigrants still coming in to the city( like myself) from near and far everyday. They come, they want that dream to live, to have a “better life ” to hopefully appreciate our city, our colours, and to become one of us. As an immigrant with family and friends coming aboard to start a new , they always want to go and see attractions in the city. The main one is the Statue of Liberty. It stands for everything when moving to this country, and it has not changed much since it was erected in the 1860s.




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,
Rich, hemm’dthick 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 river-streets,
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
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
City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city

October 13, 2009

My Whitman Look-a-Like

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 1:03 am

Nicole for 13th of October2009

Last night I was in a bar with some friends, my eyes immediately where drawn to this old grayed man sitting at the bar by himself having a pint. I kept looking at him trying to figure out where I knew his face from, then it hit me, he looks like Walt Whitman. He was tall slender with a grayed beard and full long gray hair. I then went over and told him that I taught he looked like him, he laughed and then said in his soft husky voice  maybe it’s a writers thing, we all look mad! I asked my friend the bar tender if he was a writer and she said yes.

Last week we discussed Charles Dickens, I was not very amused by his description of New York when he visited. He depicted New-Yorkers as pigs, he explained how they are self- contained, it felt as though he looked down on the society in time  in which Whitman lived. As a New Yorker, while reading this I felt very threatened. Never mind what time period it is in time NYC has always been a Metropolis, it has always stood its grounds, small or large it has always been a strong city. And since the 1800’s when Dickens visited, sure the city was in slums, it was filthy, and disgusting, but that’s how it was, new immigrants, and a newly developing down town.

New Yorkers are care free roaming people since the beginning, we adapt to situations around us and will walk the streets in the brightest colours, and sing and talk to ours selves not worrying about the others around, but we also come together in time of need. This is what Charles Dickens did not get. It was the slums! what did he expect! it was not England, but I assure you parts of England was pretty much the same. Every country has there slums. Here he saw  and found evidence of England’s superiority of class.

Unlike Whitman who embraced NYC, he loved every thing about it.  This is where he grew up, this was home, and this is what he grew to. He did not see any thing wrong with the ladies in bright colours nor depict his fellow man as a pig. He saw New York as Home, a place where he connected with man, woman, child and his city.

five points

This is the place [Five Points], these narrow ways, diverging to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with dirt and filth. Such lives as are led here, bear the same fruits here as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at the doors have counterparts at home, and all the wide world over. Debauchery has made the very houses prematurely old. See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken frays. Many of those pigs live here. Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright in lieu of going on all-fours? and why they talk instead of grunting?

Charles Dickens, American Notes for General Circulation (London: Chapman and Hall, 1842), 101, at Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.

Courtesy of the Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.

The Great Fire

Filed under: Uncategorized — nicoleg @ 12:17 am

Nicole for the 6th of October 2009

The great fire in 1835 was one of the worst tragedies to happen in NYC, this fire took place in lower Manhattan. It is said that the fire was a conflagration which destroyed the New York Stock Exchange back then. The fire began on the evening of December 16 in 1835; it started in a five story warehouse around 25 Merchant Street, this street is refereed as Beaver street now, and was at the meeting of Pearl and Hanover.

During this time of year it was one of the coldest days, the temperatures where below -17* F. It was so cold that the East River was Frozen solid. The fire was so intense that it basically destroyed between five hundred and seven hundred building, it covered 50 acres of lower Manhattan. Since the river was frozen the fire men had to cut hole in the river to get water, unfortunately it was so horribly that the hoses and pipes started to freeze. The cooper and metal shutters in building started to melt in to liquid and stream down to the river.

This was such a horrific sight that the glimmer of the fire could be seen miles away, Fire men from Philadelphia came in to NYC to help. Sadly two people where killed.

Walt Whitman “Scenes of Last Night” [April 1, 1842]

This is how Whitman describes seeing the after math of this fire.

Women carrying small bundles–men with heated and sweaty faces–little children, many of them weeping and sobbing–met us every rod or two. Then there were stacks of furniture upon the sidewalks and even in the street; puddles of water, and frequent lengths of hose-pipe endangered the pedestrian’s safety; and the hubbub, the trumpets of the engine foremen, the crackling of the flames, and the lamentations of those who were made homeless by the conflagration–all sounded louder and louder as we approached, and at last grew to one deafening din.

It was a horrible yet magnificent sight! When our eyes caught a full view of it, we beheld a space of several acres, all covered with smouldering ruins, mortar, red hot embers, piles of smoking half burnt walls–a sight to make a man’s heart sick, and keep him awake at night, when lying in his bed.

We stood on the south side of Broome street. In every direction around, except the opposite front, there was one compact mass of human flesh–upon the stoops, and along the side walks, and blocking up the street, even to the edge of where the flames were raging.


This is Stone Street today. Most of the buildings on today’s Stone Street were built in the immediate years following the fire, Greek Revival-style countinghouses that are refitted for modern times as taverns and restaurants. It’s also one of the few cobblestone streets still around in the Financial District area.


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