“What Is It Then Between Us?”

The other day, I came across on Gothamist, some illustrations of Brooklyn at the time Walt Whitman walked his city of “ample hills”. I thought it would be neat to go and take some pictures of the same places today.

Above is Henry Street, between Cranberry and Orange in 1852 — , from all the flags flying, perhaps a July 4th parade. At the site of the low, red-brick buildings, was Whitman’s printing press.  Below is Borough Hall today, as well as when it was a two-year old City Hall, back in 1851.

boro hall city hall

And here is a bit of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, from America’s #1 poet.

What is it then between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?

Closer yet I approach you,
What thought you have of me now, I had as much of you–I laid in my stores in advance,
I consider’d long and seriously of you before you were born.

Who was to know what should come home to me?
Who knows but I am enjoying this?
Who knows, for all the distance, but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me?

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  • Andrew Porter

    The first illustration is a prime example of how Robert Moses screwed over BH in his drive to rid NYC of so-called slums. And if he’d had his original way, the Cadman Towers would have been one massive monolithic building consisting solely of studio apartments. Let’s not forget his wonderful plan to drive an expressway from the Manhattan Bridge across Manhattan to the Holland Tunnel, destroying all of Chinatown in the process.

  • nabeguy

    Peter, if the view is the east side of Henry between Cranberry and Orange then the low red buildings in the picture would be on Orange Street. The Rome Brothers printing shop was on Cranberry Street and the corner of Fulton.

  • nabeguy

    Here’s a pre-Cadman Plaza view from the opposite direction of Henry.

  • nabeguy

    And here’s a view of Cranberry between Henry and Fulton. The Rome Brothers shop is in the middle of the pic at the end of the block. Today, it would be the approximate location of the coffee cart that is out every morning on Cadman Plaza.

  • http://inklake.typepad.com PBK


    Thanks for the cool pics and the clarification. I probably should have used the term ‘proximate’ , though those red buildings do extend all the way to Cadman Plaza/Fulton, don’t they?