Brooklyn Heights

This way to Mannahatta

September 4, 2015 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn bard Walt Whitman would feel right at home on the R train platform beneath Brooklyn Heights — “Mannahatta” is the name he used for Manhattan in his poetry. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
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Calling Walt Whitman!

Somebody out there riding the rails sure loves ya, baby.

Perhaps there’s a poetry-minded prankster out there thinking of you.

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Because a directional sign on a Court Street subway-station platform beneath Brooklyn Heights — the 19th-Century bard’s old stomping grounds — points the way to the train to “Mannahatta.”

That’s the name Whitman used for Manhattan in his poetry. He borrowed it from the Lenape Indians.

Whitman titled at least two poems with that name. In the more memorable one, he rapturously calls Mannahatta “City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts! City nested in bays! my city!”

Perhaps the light-hearted lit lover who altered the sign was feeling a twinge of summer’s-end ennui and wanted to see if commuters waiting for the R train would do double-takes at the sight of the doctored direction-giver.  

Here at the Brooklyn Eagle, we love Walt Whitman. He was the Eagle’s editor before the Civil War.

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