A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 24, 2004
Big Time and Big Town
"Big Time" and "Big Town" are important parts or precursors of the "Big Apple" nickname. The New York Morning Telegraph was a sports and entertainment newspaper, and the big time had been used extensively for about ten years before "Big Apple" appeared.

The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, A-G, has the following:

the highest level of attainment or prestige in any given area; (specif. and orig.) the most prestigious theaters or the major leagues of sports--constr. with the. Now collog. or S.E..

1910 Variety (Aug. 20) 12: The "ballyhoo: is not for vaudeville, present day vaudeville, "big" or "little time."

1910 in OEDS: The "big time," as such theatres as Percy Williams' and William Morris' are termed.

1913 Sat. Eve. Post (Mar. 29) 8: The "big time"--comprising the finest theatres in the largest cities.

New York City; (occ) Chicago.--usu. constr. with the.

1902 Cullen More Tales 78: You've got the [notion] that you'll be able to work me for the ride to the big town.

1915 Howard God's Man 189: Anybody'd think you just come to the Big Town the way you take it, Sonny.

1922 Tully Emmett Lawler 201: Just hit the Big Town, kid?

1933 Ersine Pris. Slang 18:
Big Town
1. In the East, New York City.
2. In the West, Chicago.

Posted by Barry Popik
Pre-1920s • (0) Comments • Saturday, July 24, 2004 • Permalink