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 January 16, 2016
Metropolis of America

"Metropolis” (from the Greek word polis for “city") means “a large city” and is not a city nickname peculiar to New York City. In the 1700s, Philadelphia (and sometimes Boston) had been called the “Metropolis of America.” New York City was called the “ commercial metropolis of America” in 1808 and “Metropolis of America” in 1811. When Charles Dickens visited New York City in 1842, he called it the “metropolis of America.”

When the city was unified into five boroughs in 1898, New York City was called the “New Metropolis.” The fictional “Metroplis” of Superman comics was first cited in print in 1939.


(Oxford English Dictionary)
metropolis, n.
The chief town or city of a country (occas. of a province or district), esp. the one which is the seat of government; a capital. In extended use: any large, bustling city.
the metropolis (also the Metropolis) London, as contrasted with the whole of Britain, England, or the provinces; (occas.) London as a whole, as distinct from the City (see CITY n. 5a).
[a1398 J. TREVISA tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum (BL Add.) f. 174, Asturia is a prouynce of e hider spayne..the citee hatte metropolis.]
1590 MARLOWE Tamburlaine Pt. 2 III. v. 36 That sweet land, whose braue Metropolis Reedified the faire Semyramis.
1636 W. DAVENANT Witts IV. i, O, to live here i’ th’ fair metropolis Of our great isle.
1667 DRYDEN Annus Mirabilis 1666 sig. A2 (heading) To the Metropolis of Great Britain, The most Renowned..City of London.
1692 L. ECHARD Gazetteer’s or Newsman’s Interpr. Pref., All the Metropolisses of Provinces.
1726 B. FRANKLIN Jrnl. in Wks. (1887) I. App. 104 Newport..is the metropolis of the island [sc. the Isle of Wight].
1807 R. SOUTHEY Lett. from Eng. (1814) I. 291 London is now so often visited, that the manners of the metropolis are to be found in every country gentleman’s house.
1807 R. SOUTHEY Lett. from Eng. (1814) II. 144 Penrith..seems here, by comparison, like a metropolis.
1862 P. M. IRVING Life & Lett. W. Irving (1864) I. i. 17 Kirkwall, the metropolis of the island group [sc. the Orkneys].
1892 Nation (N.Y.) 21 July 44/1 She [sc. Trinity College, Dublin] lives in a workaday world, because she lies at the heart of a metropolis.
1938 F. D. SHARPE Sharpe of Flying Squad ii. 30 These..cars poodle about the Metropolis well under 30 m.p.h.

1 June 1752, New-York Gazette, or Weekly Post-Boy (New York, NY), pg. 2, col. 2:
BOSTON, May 23.
(...)
I AM extremely sensible of the honour done me by the Metropolis of America; ...

Google Books
February 1791, The American Museum, Or Universal Magazine: , pg. 73:
From Alleghany’s foot I removed to the metropolis of America, as Philadelphia proudly vaunts herself.

OCLC WorldCat record
Plan of the city of Washington : now building for the metropolis of America, and established as the permanent residence of Congress after the year 1800.
Author: B Baker
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : Bent, 1793.
Edition/Format: Map : English

26 April 1808, Albany (NY) Register, pg. 2, col. 4:
... manifested by the Navy-Department, to extend to the commercial metropolis of America, as full a proportion of the public floating force, as the laws authorize.

30 March 1811, New-York (NY) Gazette, pg. 2, col. 6:
[From the Freemans’ Journal.]
GOOD AND BAD POLICY.
(...)
The city of New York would become the Emporium, the Metropolis of America, and the state a cultivated garden.

Google Books
American Notes for General Circulation
By Charles Dickens
Paris: Published by A. and W. Galignani and Co.
1842
Pg. 99:
NEW YORK, The beautiful metropolis of America is by no means so clean a city as Boston, but many of its streets have the same characteristics; except that the houses are not quite so fresh-coloured, the sign-boards are not quite so gaudy, the gilded letters not so golden, the bricks not quite so red, the stone not quite so white, the blinds and area railings not quite so green, the knobs and plates upon the streetdoors, not quite so bright and twinkling.

OCLC WorldCat record
New York as it Is ; being the counter part of the Metropolis of America. [A description of a carved model of New York and Brooklyn, executed by E. Porter Belden and others.]
Author: Ezekiel Porter BELDEN; New York (N.Y.)
Publisher: New York, 1849.
Edition/Format: Print book : Document Computer File : English

OCLC WorldCat record
New-York Museum Association, incorporated under the laws of the state of New-York. : Capital, $300,000, divided into 3,000 shares, at $100 per share. Prospectus. The want of a respectable and well-regulated public museum, commensurate with the dignity of the metropolis of America, the great city of New York, has long been felt. ...
Author: John Banvard; New-York Museum Association.
Publisher: [New York] : [publisher not identified], [1865]
Series: Archive of Americana.; American broadsides and ephemera., Series 1 ;, no. 12083.
Edition/Format: Print book : Document Computer File : English

9 April 1866, Cleveland (OH) Daily Plain Dealer, “Geographical Nicknames,” pg. 2, col. 5:
Nicknames of some cities and towns:
(...)
New York, Empire City, Commercial Emporium, Gotham, and Metropolis of America; ...

OCLC WorldCat record
The Metropolis of America : New York illustrated : the shoe district in 1894, a souvenir.
Publisher: Boston : Press of the Boot and Shoe Recorder, [1894]
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
New York: The Metropolis of America
Author: Arthur Livingston.; J. Howard Avil.; Phototype Engraving Co.
Publisher: Philadelphia : J. Howard Avil, 1903.
Edition/Format: eBook : Document : English

Google Books
Names & Nicknames of Places & Things
By Laurence Urdang
Boston, MA: G.K. Hall
1987
Pg. 165:
Metropolis of America, the
A nickname of New York City.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNicknames/Slogans • Saturday, January 16, 2016 • Permalink