03 December 2007

Literary Streets

New York City has many literary landmarks. Chumley's speakeasy, the homes of Edgar Allan Poe and Henry James, the houses on Patchin Place, where many a writer lived, Provincetown Playhouse, the church where Edith Wharton was married, the White Horse Tavern. There are plaques everywhere.

Literary streets are harder to come by. In fact, they're as scarce as hen's teeth. I don't mean street where writers once lived; there are plenty of those. I mean streets named after writers, or their works. You'd think that a town that has been home to more scribes than any other in American history would have a Dreiser Drive, a Whitman Way, a Fitzgerald Street. But no. (And I'm not talking about the temporary street designations that pop up all over the place.)

One of the only thoroughfare's honoring a writer that I know of is Irving Place. This was named after Washington Irving by Samuel Ruggles, who conceived of and built Gramercy Park. Irving, America's first literary superstar, was at the height of his fame when the street was laid out. Another such is across town and is of extremely obscure origins. This is Waverly Place, the beloved Greenwich Village path. Apparently, back in the early 1800s, novelist Sir Walter Scott had many admirers in the Village. When Scott's "Waverly" was published, people liked it so much that, a year after the author's death, they named a road after it. Why they didn't name is after Scott himself, I don't know. Maybe they didn't like his other books as much.

If anyone else out there knows of any other literary street, please speak up.

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