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 December 01, 2004
Gas House District
The "Gas House District" used to be around 18th street and east of First Avenue. There were actual gas houses there in the 19th century, but they have long since been removed. The term is no longer used. The area is now occupied by Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

It was a bad area, and criminals there were called members of the "gas house gang." This is not related to baseball's 1930s St. Louis Cardinals, also known as the "Gas House Gang."

9 October 1879, New York Times, pg. 2:
At a meeting of the Cornall-Hoskins Club of the Sixteenth Assembly District, last evening, at No. 427 Second-avenue, the names of over 40 new members were added to the roll.
(...)
This is what is known as the "Gas-house Dictrict," because the hundreds of employes in the gas-works there have for years been practically compelled to vote the Democratic ticket.

4 November 1885, New York Times, pg. 8:
John McGovern, of No. 507 West Twenty-sixth-street, was working the "gas house" district in behalf of Dunham,
15 November 1894, New York , pg. 12:
POLITICS AND POETRY.

Good Verses, but They Didn't Go with the
Gas House Gang.

17 February 1895, New York Times, pg. 16:
Six boys were arraigned in the Harlem Police Court yesterday on charges of burglary. All belong to the "Gas House Gang," many members of which have been sent to the State prison and the penitentiaries.

The American Metropolis
by Frank Moss
New York: P. F. Collier
1897

Pages 395-396:
...but perhaps the most unique of all vicious drinking places is a "dead house" on 18th Street, in what is called the "gas-house district." It is a "Mecca" for vagrants and "bums" of New York, Brooklyn and New Jersey.


Posted by Barry Popik
Neighborhoods • (0) Comments • Wednesday, December 01, 2004 • Permalink