A (New Yorker’s) Christmas Poem


1862 Illustration from Moore’s “A Visit From Saint Nicholas”

On July 15, 1779,  Clement Clark Moore was born in New York City. He graduated from Columbia University in 1798 and went on to enjoy a successful career as a professor. But he is perhaps best known and remembered as the author of “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” commonly known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Moore was born and lived in the family home known as the “Chelsea House” at roughly 420 W. 23rd Street (the house later giving the name to the NYC neighborhood).

The Chelsea House was the 2nd house that stood on a 30 acre site later known as Chelsea

Moore wrote the poem for his two daughters in 1822; it was not intended for public use. But a visiting relative who heard Moore recite it in 1823, asked for a copy and soon after sent it in to the Troy Sentinel. On December 23, 1823, the newspaper published it anonymously.

Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) was born in New York City

As each year passed, the poem circulated, soon becoming a classic for the holidays.

It was not until 1829 that its author was identified as Dr. Moore, who, it was noted, was indeed a “respectable New Yorker”; Moore was reportedly “chagrined” initially that the poem had been made public.

In 1837, the poem was published in the volume, The New York Book of Poetry.

Decades later, in 1862, George H. Moore, the librarian of the New York Historical Society at 72 East 12th Street, wrote to Clement Moore and asked him for an autographed copy of the famous poem written by one of the city’s own.

Dr. Moore responded with the following hand written version of his beloved poem:




Each Christmas eve, in Clement Moore Park in Chelsea, people gather to read Moore’s classic work.

~Jenny Thompson



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