[See also part one, “Big Apple Corner (1992-1997),” and part two, “Big Apple Corner (1997 Law & Today).”]
The site of the New York (NY) Morning Telegraph newspaper—where John J. Fitz Gerald wrote about “the Big Apple” back in the 1920s—has been suggested as a happier place for “Big Apple Corner” than where he died (the present place of the street sign). It is very possible, of course, to have “Big Apple Corner/Place” signs in both places.
The Morning Telegaph had at least four locations. The first location (from 1902 until 1931) was on the southeast corner of West 50th Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. The newspaper occupied a former horse barn (and later car barn) in what many described as a fire trap building. One later advantage was that the third Madison Square Garden building was built right across the street and opened in 1925, until this was demolished in 1968 for a fourth (and current) Madison Square Garden at Penn Station. Fitz Gerald wrote his “Big Apple” columns in the old barn, and here would be a place for a second “Big Apple Corner” street sign or a plaque.
In late 1931, the Morning Telegraph moved to West 36th Street. However, Fitz Gerald did not have a “Big Apple"-named column in the newspaper at this time. He would leave the newspaper soon after the move.
The 1940 Manhattan Telephone Directory lists the Morning Telegraph‘s address at 343 West 26th Street.
Wikipedia lists the Morning Telegraph‘s last address, at 525 West 52nd Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. It’s here where the Morning Telegraph last published, on April 10, 1972. However, Fitz Gerald did not write his “Big Apple” columns from this location.
Wikipedia: The Morning Telegraph
The Morning Telegraph (1839- April 10, 1972) (sometimes referred to as the New York Morning Telegraph) was a New York City broadsheet newspaper owned by Moe Annenberg’s Cecelia Corporation that was first published in 1839 then as the Sunday Mercury from 1839-1897 before becoming The Morning Telegraph in December, 1897.
The paper was devoted mostly to theatrical and horse racing news. It published a Sunday edition as the Sunday Telegraph. On closing, it was replaced by an Eastern edition Triangle’s sister publication, the Daily Racing Form.
The Society for New York City History
Why Do They Call It “The Big Apple”?
Joe Zito, who joined the paper as a young man some 70-plus years ago, recently reminisced about Jack Fitzgerald and his times.
“In the early 1930s I got my first job as a rewrite man and a copy reader for the Morning Telegraph. The Telegraph at that time was situated on West 24th Street, and the site is now part of the parking lot of the huge Penn South complex.
John FitzGerald—we called him Jack—was the feature writer for the paper, and he covered the races in New York State.”
In FitzGerald’s honor (and due largely to the strenuous efforts of attorney-etymologist Barry Popick, who, like the columnist, immigrated to NYC from upstate New York) a street sign reading “Big Apple Corner” was installed at Broadway and West 54th Street in 1997, near the hotel where FitzGerald died in poverty in 1963—although a location near the old Telegraph office might arguably have been a happier spot for it.
A True Story of American Stage Life
New York, NY: The Macauley Company
Sometimes, on Sunday morning, if he found me awake he would hand me the Morning Telegram. No wonder they call it “the chorus girl’s breakfast.”
The Auction Block:
A Novel of New York Life
By Rex Beach
New York, NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers
Jim also had come home in the still hours of the night before, and had but lately made his breakfast on a cup of coffee, three cigarettes, and the racing sheet of the Morning Telegraph.
20 September 1918, Reedy’s Mirror (St. Louis, MO), pg. 466, cols. 1-2:
The Paper of the Live Ones
The Morning Telegraph is a peculiar institution—peculiar, that is, to New York.
Buys it for the racing results, prize fight news, personal gossip of the theaters and movies, politics. The chorus girls’ breakfast is a copy of the Morning Telegraph and a cigarette. New York’s cafe population swears by the paper.
24 September 1929, Rockford (IL) Register-Gazette, “Bo Broadway” by Joseph Van Raalte (By Central Press), pg. 6, col. 6:
New York, Sept. 24—Once upon a time the Morning Telegraph was known as the Broadway Bible. It involved the famous definition of a Chorus Girl’s Breakfast—“a copy of the Telegraph and a cigarette.”
And now look at it! They’re ripping out the front of the Morning Telegraph building on Eighth Avenue to make room for a white-tile orange drink stall.
O tempora! O morons!
Google News Archive
28 September 1931, The Telegraph (Nashua, NH), “About New York” by William Gaines, pg. 4, col. 5:
The Morning Telegraph (in pre-tabloid days, it and a cigaret were a chorus girl’s breakfast) soon is to move from the converted horse car barn opposite Madison Square Garden, so long the sheet’s home.
5 November 1931, The World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 19, col. 4:
Telegraph to Move.
Saturday, November 14, will be the last day of publication of the Morning Telegraph in the old car barns on Eighth avenue and Fiftieth street that has housed the sporting sheet for 29 years. To celebrate its moving to more modern quarters in West Thirty-sixth street, the staff on that evening will play host to every newspaper man who ever worked there—which means a large segment of the local newspaper fraternity.
New York City • The Big Apple • 1980s-present: Big Apple work by Gerald Cohen, Barry Popik • Sunday, August 16, 2015 • Permalink