Countless poets have wandered New York’s streets. From Federico García Lorca’s lonely adventures in Columbia University subway stations to Allen Ginsberg’s hallucinations on the Upper West Side to Walt Whitman and Thoreau’s respective meanderings along the East River, New York has been a stomping ground for many of the world’s most famous literary minds. Read on to discover various places these poets spent their time and mined for inspiration, and to find quotes and poems that mention places in New York where you can go in order to feel like you yourself are part of a network of rich literary history.
1. Edgar Allan Poe’s High Bridge
During his residency at Fordham in the mid-1800s, Edgar Allan Poe often took long, contemplative walks. One of his favorite routes still stands today.
High Bridge connects Washington Heights to the Bronx, and can be entered at Highbridge Park at West 172nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue. From the Bronx, it can be entered at University Avenue and 170th Street. It reopened to the public in 2015, 40 years after it closed. Atop the bridge, on foggy, rainy days, it’s easy to imagine where Poe might have drawn some of his inspiration for his famously dark and dreary creations.
Poe described his experiences on the bridge in his story, “The Imp of the Perverse.” “We stand upon the brink of a precipice,” he wrote. “We peer into the abyss—we grow sick and dizzy. Our first impulse is to shrink from the danger. Unaccountably we remain.”
Often described as the city’s first bohemian, Poe spent his time exploring the furthest reaches of his consciousness and drawing inspiration from the city’s then-rural landscape, and near the end of his life he would spend whole days and nights walking along this very bridge, probably contemplating mortality and infinity.
Other famous Poe haunts include Mount Tom on 83rd Street and Claremont, where Poe would look out over the Hudson, and the Edgar Allen Poe cottage in the Bronx. For a more in-depth look at Poe’s journeys in New York City, check out this article.