Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director, News Services
MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: Thursday, July 14, 2005, 10 am
QUEENS COLLEGE UNVEILS “WALT WHITMAN GARDEN” ON JULY 14
TO COMMEMORATE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF
LEAVES OF GRASS PUBLICATION
-- Garden at Entrance to College’s Student Union Marks Site Where One of
America’s and New York’s Foremost Poets Taught School in 1839 --
|WHAT: ||Dedication of “Walt Whitman Garden” followed by reception and display of Whitman memorabilia |
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|WHY: ||Commemorate 150th anniversary of publication of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass |
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|WHERE: ||Ceremony: Garden is at entrance to Queens College’s Student Union parking lot. |
Reception: Corner Bistro inside Student Union.
For directions, go to http://www.qc.cuny.edu/about/directions.php
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|WHO: ||Queens College President Dr. James L. Muyskens unveils plaque naming the newly planted garden. |
Jeff Gottlieb, president of the Central Queens Historical Association, discusses research that led to the discovery that Whitman taught in a one-room schoolhouse on this site in 1839.
Stephen Stepanchev, first Queens Poet Laureate and Professor Emeritus of Queens College, reads his Whitmanesque poem, “Words for Queens College," and an excerpt from Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”
Media, Please Note: The main college gate on Kissena Blvd. will be closed from 8 am to noon for this event. All media are requested to use the Student Union garage, located just before Melbourne Avenue on Kissena Blvd. There will be no parking charge for media who say they are covering the Walt Whitman event. After parking, take elevator to first floor and exit through Student Union’s main entrance.
BACKGROUND: Walt Whitman (1819-1892), born in West Hills, Long Island, was a poet, printer, publisher, farmer, journalist, teacher and proud New York resident. From 1836 to 1841, to subsidize his journalistic ventures, he taught at 10 schools on Long Island, including institutions in Bayside and Whitestone.
From the late fall of 1839 through the winter of 1839-40, Whitman instructed students in a building called the Jamaica Academy, located on Flushing-Jamaica Road. Today that road is called Kissena Boulevard. The school was on the present campus of Queens College.
By 1844, the school had become known as School No. 6 of Queens County. Later it came to be known as P.S. 25 until its closing in 1935.
Located at a site where the campus meets Melbourne Avenue at Kissena Boulevard were three structures: an early 19th century building (Whitman’s schoolhouse), a Civil War-era structure and a World War I-era building. They were eventually demolished and replaced by the Newtown High School Agricultural Program administration annex. In 1972 this also came down, and the Queens College Student Union building was erected.
The first sale of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, a “slim volume of poetry, bound in green cloth and embossed in gold,” took place in July 1855. Many consider it to be the finest collection of poems printed to date in the U.S.A.