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 June 20, 2006
“New York, thy name’s Delirium” ("Owed to New York” poem)
Byron Rufus Newton (1861-1938) wrote "New York, thy name's Delirium" as the last line of his poem,"Owed to New York." He wrote the satirical poem as a reporter of the New York Herald in 1906.


13 March 1907, Kansas City (MO) Evening Times, pg. 8:
"Crazed by avarice, lust and rum, New York, thy name's delirium."

3 June 1908, Reno (NV) Evening Gazette, pg. 6:
New York

Vulgar of manner, overfed,
Overdressed and underbred;
Heartless, Godless, Hell's delight,
Rude by day and lewd by night,
Bedwarfed the man and large the brute,
Ruled by Jew and prostitute,
Purple robed and pauper clad,
Rotten, raving, money-mad;
A squirming herd in money's mesh,
A wilderness of human flesh;
Crazed by avarice, lust and rum --
"New York" thy name's Delirium.

31 August 1915, Stevens Point (WI) Daily Journal, pg. 3:
One of Byron R. Newton's poems has been printed and reprinted. he was a reporter on a great New York paper and he had witnessed the results of a great tragedy. he thought on the tragic event and then on the carelessness of the joyous crowds all unheeding of the sore troubles and the heartbreaks about them. Some people have said it is an awful poem. It is strong and very likely awful, but it is doubtful if its truth is overdrawn. Here it is:

ODE TO NEW YORK.

Vulgar of Manner, overfed,
Overdressed and underbred,
Heartless, Godless, hell's delight,
Rude by day, and lewd by night;
Bedwarfed the man, o'ergrown the brute,
Ruled by boss and prostitute,
Purple robed and pauper clad
Raving, rotting, money mad;
A squirming herd in Mammon's mesh,
A wilderness of human flesh;
Crazed with avarice, lust and rum,
New York, thy name's delirium.

24 September 1917, Kansas City (MO) Star, pg. 14, col. 2:
POLITICIAN AND POET, TOO.
New York Recalls Bitter Verses of the
New Port Collector.
From the New York Sun.

If Byron Rufus Newton is nominated and confirmed as collector of this port to succeed Dudley Field Malone, who resigned for reasons of conscience, New York's custom house will not be the first establishment of the sort which has sheltered an eminent man of letters. It will be remembered that Nathaniel Hawthorne served three years as surveyor of the port of Salem, Mass.

We violate no confidence and we correct many misapprehensions when we definitely attribute to the Hon. Byron Rufus Newton the authorship of the immortal "Owed to New York, a production in which it seems that both the vitriolic spirit of Juvenal and the reckless genius of that other unterrified poet for whom Byron Newton himself was named had collaborated with him on this occasion. The subjoined lines in celebration of this metropolis have been inaccurately credited to other writers:

Vulgar of manners, overfed,
Overdressed and underbred,
Heartless, Godless, hell's delight,
Rude by day and lewd yb night,
Bedwarfed the man, o'ergrown the brute,
Ruled by Boss intent on loot;
Purple robed and pauper clad,
Raving, rotting, money mad;
A squirming herd of Mammon's mesh,
A wilderness of human flesh;
Crazed with avarice, lust and rum,
New York, thy name's delirium!

A custom house does not strike the imagination as altogether the most favorable place for the cultivation of the muses; but the circumstance that during Hawthorne's occupancy of the federal building at Salem he produced his masterpiece, "The Scarlet Letter," warrants high expectations of the Hon. Byron Rufus Newton's pen if he should come to Bowling Green to take possession of the desk so conscientiously vacated by the Hon. Dudley Field Malone.

22 February 1925, New York (NY) Times, pg. BR28:
"New York, a Pandemonium"
PIERCE -- I would like to have the satire on New York City by the criminal lawyer Delphin Delmas, the last line of which is "New York, thy name is pandemonium."

31 October 1926, New York (NY) Times, pg. BR35:
"New York
JOHN L. PORTER, Pittsburgh, Pa. -- M. S. asks in your issue of Sept. 12 for the brief poem about New York, which was written by Byron R. Newton in 1906 and delivered on the occasion of the annual dinner of The New York Herald. The title of the poem is "Owed to New York," as follows:

Vulgar in manner, overfed,
Over-dressed and under-bred,
Heartless, Godless, Hell's delight,
Rude by day and lewd by night;
Bedwarfed the man, enlarged the brute,
Ruled by Jew and prostitute.
Purple robed and pauper clad.
Raving, rotten, money mad,
A squirming herd in mammon's mesh,
A wilderness of human flesh,
Crazed by avarice, lust and rum,
"NEW YORK" thy name is DELIRIUM.


Samuel Schwarzberg, New York, writes that the author of the poem was at one time Collector of the Port of New York. A number of readers answered this query, not a few of whom sent in the poem and interesting (Pg. 37 -- ed.) data about it, but we have not space to print it. Several of the best letters have been sent to our correspondent. We published a full account of this poem in these columns of March 22, 1925.

Mr. Newton, the author of the poem, is at present in business in New York, so many readers tell us.

24 December 1961, New York (NY) Times "New York, Thy Name's Delirium" by Jacob K. Javits, pg. SM9:
Vulgar in manner, overfed,
Over-dressed and underbred,
Heartless, Godless, Hell's delight,
Rude by day and lewd by night...
Purple-robed and pauper-clad.
Raving, rotten, money-mad,
A squirming herd in Mammon's mesh,
A wilderness of human flesh,
Crazed with avarice, lust and rum,
New York, thy name's Delirium.

-- BYRON RUFUS NEWTON.

WHEN Byron Rufus Newton wrote those words in 1906 as a reporter for The New York Herald, he was writing with such tongue-in-cheek that he decided to title it "Owed to New York." But many New Yorkers took him seriously. Indeed, thirteen years later, when he was appointed Collector of Customs for the Port of New York his poetry brought demands that he be ousted from the post, until he demonstrated that it was all in good humor.

6 December 1970, New York (NY) Times, pg. 119:
Rushing hordes, honking horns and speeded-up revolving doors are the familiar distilled cliches of essential New York.
It was the city's peculiar quality of time that led Christopher Morley to call the place "the nation's thyroid gland." And it led a man named Byron Rufus Newton to write some doggerel ending with these lines: "crazed with avarice, lust and rum/ New York, thy name's delirium."

20 July 1975, New York (NY) Times, "Architecture View" by Ada Louise Huxtable, pg. D23:
Perhaps the unforgivable sin of this troubled city, to outsiders, is its refusal to take itself too seriously. New York, thy name is irreverence and hyperbole. And grandeur.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • Tuesday, June 20, 2006 • Permalink