Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site
Backstory and Context
Walt Whitman, born at this site in 1819, is known as one of America's most prolific writers. Whitman is perhaps best known for his poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, but the initial release of the collection did not receive much acclaim. However, by the end of his life, Whitman was a celebrated American poet; he was the first American poet to receive international acclaim. Today, his work has been translated into several languages and continues to inspire readers.
The Whitman family can be traced to Huntington, Long Island as early as the 17th century. After their marriage in 1816, Whitman's parents, Walter and Louisa, started their family in this home. Three of their children, including Walt, were born here.
The Whitmans moved to Brooklyn in 1823, and the house changed hands several times. A fire caused considerable damage to the house in 1910. Recognizing the significance of the structure and its vulnerability, the Huntington Historical Society worked to convince locals to protect the property. John and Georgia Watson then purchased the home, living there until the 1940s. In 1951, the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association acquired the house and grounds. In April 1957, the governor approved plans for the state to assume ownership, and on September 28, 1957, it became New York’s 22nd state historic site. Significant work has been done to ensure the house reflects its 19th-century appearance.
Today, the Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site is open to the public for tours. The Walt Whitman Interpretive Center provides additional information via a series of portraits, artifacts, and recordings.