By Andrew Wroblewski
Walt Whitman’s legacy to Huntington has permanently planted its roots in the heart of its birthplace with an historic marker now standing near the barn where Whitman produced The Long-Islander 178 years ago.
Representatives of the newspaper today, along with officials from the Town of Huntington, Press Club of Long Island, Huntington Historical Society and Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, participated in a ceremony Tuesday – Whitman’s birthday -- when the marker was unveiled.
The historic marker is one of hundreds spread across the town. This one was created through an initiative of The Press Club of Long Island, which is the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The initiative has set out to mark locations of significance in Long Island journalism history.
The birthplace of The Long-Islander, a barn located at the site of the Gerard Street municipal parking lot, is the second location to be marked in such a way.
Whitman, a beloved poet, founded The-Long Islander in 1838 out of a barn behind a stonecutter’s shop on Main Street. He wrote, produced and delivered the newspaper in its early years. Today, The Long-Islander operates as one of three publications of Long Islander News, located at 14 Wall St., just steps away from the original location.
During the unveiling ceremony, Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said he hopes the historic marker will lead children to ask their parents about the newspaper and about Whitman.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) also spoke, detailing his affection for Whitman, noting that he has a framed cover of Whitman’s poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, framed in his office in Washington. The cover, he said, was a gift from the Cynthia Shor, executive director of the Whitman Birthplace.