7. Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman’s Brooklyn Ferry
Although their work is usually associated with nature and the abandonment of civilization, Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman both spent time in New York City. Once, they even crossed paths. In 1856, the two took the ferry from Manhattan to a performance in Brooklyn, and afterwards Whitman took Thoreau to visit him in the attic room he shared with his brother.
For Thoreau, New York was a toxic environment that embodied all of his frustrations with consumerism and overcrowding – and soon after his first visit to the city, he absconded from civilization and moved to Walden Pond. For Whitman, the city was a force of inspiration. He was it as a reflection of the perfectly imperfect chaos of the self, a chaos that he fully embraced in his seminal work, Song of Myself.
Relive Thoreau and Whitman’s experiences and take a joyride on the ferry. Perhaps you will be inspired to leave the city for good in order to experience true solitude, like Thoreau; perhaps you will fall even more in love with its chaos and energy, like Whitman. Whitman even wrote a poem called “Crossing the Brooklyn Ferry,” and later wrote that ““I have always had a passion for ferries; to me they afford inimitable, streaming, never-failing, living poems.” Either way, you will be stepping out on a journey that inspired some of the all-time greatest literary minds.