Herman Melville is New York City's greatest writer. He was born here, at 6 Pearl St (now indicated by a plain gray wall and a plaque tucked behind a towering skyscraper in Lower Manhattan) and died here after three decades of obscurity.
Before he wrote "Moby-Dick," he was desperate for "tobacco money," so he turned to travel writing, capped in his 1849 book "Redburn." It was universally condemned. The London Britannia wrote that it he "seems to have taken up with the notion that anything will do for the public." Melville later apologized.