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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Postcard Thursday: Melville's Whale

site for processing whale oil, Antarctica
On October 18, 1851, a novel called The Whale by Herman Melville was published in England. It would come out in America about a month later under the title Moby Dick and would become a landmark of 19th-century American literature. (Though not immediately -- the first edition was a failure.)

Melville was born in Lower Manhattan and -- when he wasn't working on square-rigged sailing ships -- spent most of his life in the city.
"There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs—commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward…. Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you see?—Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries."
-- Herman Melville, Moby Dick

For years, there was a bust of Melville inset into the wall behind 17 State Street, a 1988 office tower built by Emory Roth & Sons in the Financial District. The bust marked the spot (sort of) where Melville was born at 6 Pearl Street.

However, a recent renovation of the plaza has erased the Melville memorial. Do any readers know what happened to the bust? We've reached out to the leasing agent for the building, but so far have not heard back.

Image result for whaling ships

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Want to hear more about NYC history?

Inside the Apple has recently been released for the first time as an audio book!

Visit Amazon or Audible to download today

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