Ithaca Literary Tour

Learn about Ithaca's legacy of notable authors and poets

Ithaca Literary Tour

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Ithaca Heritage

Tour Information

Ithaca has served as the home for many notable writers, including multiple Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winners. Take this tour through Ithaca's literary past and learn about the places that famous authors lived and worked.


Intended to be a driving tour or an avid biking trail.

Total distance travelled: 5.47 miles

Listen to the tour on SoundCloud:


Research and pictures compiled by The History Center in Tompkins County.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Author Junot Díaz (b. 1968) lived here at 702 North Cayuga Street while completing his M.F.A. from Cornell University. After his graduation in 1995, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) and wa... Read more
Author Alex Haley lived at this house at 212 Cascadilla Street, built in 1910, for six weeks after his birth in 1921. His family then moved to Tennessee. LISTEN HERE ...
Alex Haley (1921-1922) was born in Ithaca while his father, Simon, completed a master's degree in agriculture at Cornell University. The family moved to Tennessee only six weeks after Haley's birth, but Ithaca honors the writer and his lega... Read more
Founded in 1975, The Bookery reflects the academic and cultural elements of our community. We have a large selection of used and rare books in our store and online. Our shelves feature used and rare books about New York and local history, a... Read more
**Please note - After 45 years in business The Bookery closed in 2019** Founded in 1975, The Bookery reflects the academic and cultural elements of our community. We have a large selection of used and rare books in our store and online. Our... Read more
The History Center Research Library & Archives is a place for discovery about Tompkins County's past. The History Center’s research library serves casual browsers and scholars, school children, local historians, genealogists, and ... Read more
60,000 books, 10,000 records & a Cafe, all under one roof. Autumn Leaves offers the selection & quality of a new book store at used book prices. Our spacious, well lit store is designed for comfortable browsing, with a knowledgeable... Read more
Tompkins County Public Library (Ithaca, New York), founded in 1864 by Ezra Cornell, serves the 104,926 residents of Tompkins County and is the Central Library for the Finger Lakes Library System, serving libraries and users in Tompkins, Tio... Read more
Before winning the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel Ironweed, author William Kennedy (b. 1928) spent a sabbatical year in 1982-1983 living at 105 Cascadilla Park Street and teaching writing at Cornell University. Using funds f... Read more
This empty building at 900 Stewart Avenue was originally built in 1925 in the style of an Egyptian tomb as home of the Sphinx Head Senior Honor Society at Cornell University. It was substantially remodeled over the years, with astronomy pro... Read more
Novelist Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) spent a decade in Ithaca teaching Russian and European literature at Cornell University, but he rarely lived in one place for long. He spent the 1954-1955 academic year living in apartment #30 of the Be... Read more
Children's author E. B. White (1899-1985) spent most of his freshman year at Cornell in 1917-1918 living in the Baker Dormitories on West Campus. Although he spent his first few days in a cramped Sheldon Court room in Collegetown, he quick... Read more
The opening of Thomas Pynchon's novel The Crying of Lot 49 (1965) mentions "a sunrise over the library slope at Cornell University that nobody out on it had seen because the slope faces west." Pynchon (b. 1937) spent four years in Ithaca ... Read more
6 South Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850 Kurt Vonnegut joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity and lived here at 6 South Avenue as a sophomore and junior at Cornell University from 1941 until he dropped out in 1943. His father had been a member of the sam... Read more
Before she was famed author Toni Morrison, she was Cornell student Chloe Wofford. Wofford lived in Cornell's Cascadilla Hall dormitory while completing her master's degree in 1954-1955. She would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved ... Read more
Sheldon Court opened as a private dormitory for Cornell students in 1903 and was eventually purchased by the university in 1955. Many notable Cornellians lived here, including children's author E. B. White, Class of 1921, who moved in short... Read more
Author Richard Fariña (1937-1966), who wrote the popular counterculture novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me (1966) based on experiences at Cornell, lived in this house at 226 Linden Avenue in fall 1958. His friend, author Thoma... Read more
When Vladimir Nabokov first arrived in Ithaca in July 1948, he moved into this 957 East State Street home of a vacationing faculty member until the end of the summer. He would return to live here again in late summer 1953 through 1954 while... Read more
Vladimir Nabokov rarely stayed in one Ithaca home for more than a year, with this residence being an exception. The Nabokovs considered 802 East Seneca Street to be too large, drafty, and costly, but they stayed from fall 1948 to 1950. LIST... Read more
During his junior year at Cornell University from 1957 to 1958, author Thomas Pynchon resided here at 702 East Buffalo Street.  LISTEN HERE ...
As a freshman at Cornell University from 1940 to 1941, Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) boarded here at 109 Williams Street. After dropping out in 1943, Vonnegut become an enormously successful novelist, whose fourteen novels include Player Piano... Read more


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