The website “Placing Literature” is a map-based, crowd sourced platform that locates literary scenes in real-life locations all around the world. Founded in 2013 by Andrew Bardin Williams, who was a resident of New Haven at the time, Placing Literature launched a redesigned site last week making the experience more even more fun, particularly on the go. In New York City, you can discover where Bartleby gets hired (Herman Melville), where the tree grows in Brooklyn, follow Sherman McCoy as he crosses the Triborough Bridge with his mistress in The Bonfire of the Vanities, and more.
Each location on the map is clickable and pulls up a card with content about the book, or an excerpt, a photo of the location, links for more information on Google, Wikipedia and Goodreads, and where to buy the book. Users can also now check-in to locations, showing they have been there. Beyond map functions, you can also search by author or book, or browse through “collections” that have been curated by people, museums, schools, libraries, publishers and more.
Triborough Bridge in The Bonfire of the Vanities
In a 2013 article on Huffington Post, Placing Literature founder Williams wrote, he describes what spurred him to create Placing Literature. Reading a scene from Joe College, one of his favorite literary scenes, he questioned the symbolism utilized to compare “a down-on-his-luck ‘townie’ who is standing on the sidewalk staring at a young undergrad from Yale University undressing in her dorm room,” separated from each other by a moat between the sidewalk and the dorm. Williams walked down the street and found the exact location, as the author Tom Perotta had described. “That’s when the light bulb went off,” he says, “The relationship between literature and real, physical places is genuine and helps enhance the reading experience and develop a sense of community where these scenes take place.”
You’ll notice when you zoom in to a particular area that you probably know many more spots than are listed. 2839 places have been located, as of when we published this article, but they are definitely clustered in certain areas where the site had partnerships, users, and the like. It’s up to the rest of us to start locating the other places, adding in the wealth of literary references there are in New York City.
Wall Street in Bartleby the Scrivener
Staten Island in Native Speaker
Next, check out this literary map that highlights the authors of the Upper East Side, discover 7 spots in NYC where you can drink like the Beat Generation did or follow the footsteps of Herman Melville in in Lower Manhattan.