Written by Joe Scotchie: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 06 April 2012 00:00
Memorials and references to Roslyn’s most famous literary figure, William Cullen Bryant are at numerous places in New York: The huge Bryant Park and monument in back of the New York City Public Library, a Bryant High School in Queens County, and here in Roslyn, the local library, an avenue, and Cedarmere, his longtime home.
And pending approval of the New York State Assembly, that list might grow to the Roslyn Viaduct Bridge.
Recently, a bill sponsored by State Senator Jack M. Martins (R. – Mineola) to rename the viaduct in honor of Bryant has been approved by the state senate. The bill (S. 6240) awaits approval from similar legislation in the state assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.
In the meantime, the Martins bill was received with a ringing endorsement by prominent figures in the Roslyn community.
“Naming the Roslyn Viaduct after William Cullen Bryant is a great tribute to a man who has contributed so much to what is now the historic Roslyn Village,” said John Durkin, mayor of the Village of Roslyn. “Now, all who travel from the east and west through our village will be reminded of the many contributions of William Cullen Bryant, an outstanding poet, writer, anthologist and translator.”
“It’s so apropos to name the bridge in honor of a man who has done so much for Roslyn,” added Cathleen Mealing, director of the Bryant Library. “I want to thank Senator Martins for introducing the bill.”
“It’s really an admirable thing to do,” said Roslyn Landmark Society Executive Director Franklin Hill Perrell of renaming the viaduct. “We hope the naming of this bridge will lead to the rediscovery of this writer. During the 19th century, William Cullen Bryant rivaled Mark Twain as the most famous author in America.”
For his part, Senator Martins noted the village’s strong reputation as a place where historical preservation is of paramount importance. Renaming the bridge, he said, would add to the village’s luster in that field.
“The Village of Roslyn, the Bryant Library and the Roslyn Landmark Society do an exceptional job of preserving the history of this beautiful village,” said Senator Martins. “It’s appropriate that the viaduct have a name that is synonymous with the community.”
The Roslyn Viaduct was constructed in 1949. It recently underwent an extensive renovation process, the first in its history. And now, that project may culminate with a new name for the structure.
A native of Cummington, MA, Bryant moved to New York in 1825, where after working for several literary publications, he eventually served for half a century as editor of The New York Evening Post. In 1843, Bryant was able to purchase the residence known as Cedarmere, from where he would commute daily to Manhattan and his editorial duties at The Evening Post. Bryant’s most famous poem is Thanatopsis, which was published in 1817. In addition to his editorial work, Bryant was also a civic leader, helping to create the Metropolitan Museum of Art and giving shape to the construction of Central Park. Bryant also introduced Abraham Lincoln when the latter gave his Cooper Union address in New York City in 1860, solidifying his position as one of the leading political activists of his time.