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 November 19, 2011
“Records are made to be broken”

"Records are made to be broken” is a popular sports saying. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) wrote in 1738, “Promises and Pye-crust are made to be broken.”

The “records” saying appears to have been popularized through cycling races and boat races. An 1889 cycling story, “How Cycling Road Records Are Made in England,” stated, “So eager is the competition, too, that road records seem to resemble promises and piecrust, inasmuch as they are only made to be broken.” The Irish Cyclist observed in 1892, “Records are like pie-crust this season—they are made to be broken, and evidently will not keep good for more than a few days.” A boat in an 1899 race was described that “her officers believe that records are made to be broken.”


Wikiquote: Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745) was an Irish writer and satirist. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, although he is also well known for his poetry and essays.
(...)
Polite Conversation (1738?)
Dialogue 1

The sight of you is good for sore eyes.
‘Tis as cheap sitting as standing.
I hate nobody: I am in charity with the world.
I won’t quarrel with my bread and butter.
She’s no chicken; she’s on the wrong side of thirty, if she be a day.
She wears her clothes, as if they were thrown on her with a pitchfork.
…promises and pie-crust are made to be broken.

Google Books
A complete collection of genteel and ingenious conversation, according to the most polite mode and method now used at court : and in the best companies of England. In three dialogues. By Simon Wagstaff
By Jonathan Swift
London: Printed for B. Motte, and C. Bathurst
1738
Pg. 45:
Ld. Sparkish. Why.Madam, you know, Promises are either broken or kept.
Lady Answ. I beg your Pardon, my Lord; Promises and Pye-crust are made to be broken.

13 July 1811, New-York (NY) Spectator, “Corporation Laws,” pg. 3, col. 3:
“Promises, like pye-crust, are made to be broken,” is not better established than “Corporation Law.”

14 March 1821, American Journal (Ithaca, NY), pg. 3, col. 2:
“Promises, like pie-crusts, are made to be broken.”

17 December 1886, New York (NY) Herald, “An Apotheosis of Pie,” pg. 4, col. 4:
Women’s promises and pie crust, says the cynic, are made to be broken.

Google Books
July 1889, Outing,"How Cycling Road Records Are Made in England” by “Faed,” pg. 300:
THE manufacture, and fracture, of cycling road records is a decidedly modern, and almost exclusively English, species of sport. So eager is the competition, too, that road records seem to resemble promises and piecrust, inasmuch as they are only made to be broken.

28 August 1892, Sunday Repository (Canton, OH), pg. 13, col. 3:
Records are like pie-crust this season—they are made to be broken, and evidently will not keep good for more than a few days.—Irish Cyclist.

4 September 1894, New York (NY) Daily Tribune, “The Talk of the Day,” pg. 6, col. 6:
Ocean records, like promises, are made to be broken.

Google Books
March 1896, Cassell’s Family Magazine, “Kings of the Playing-fields,” pg. 368, col. 2:
In conclusion it must be remembered that on such a subject it is impossible to he quite up to date, since records, like good intentions, are only made to be broken in a day or two.
B. FLETCHER ROBINSON.

19 February 1897, Idaho Register (Idaho Falls, ID), pg. 7, col. 4:
Records are made to be broken.

Google Books
14 September 1899, Christian Work: Illustrated Family Newspaper, pg. 415, col. 2:
It was then thought she had reached the top notch of her speed, but her officers believe that records are made to be broken, and that the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was built to break them, so on the trip which ended last week she crossed the ocean in 5 days, 18 hours and 5 minutes.

Google Books
January 1900, Munsey’s Magazine, pg. 524, col. 2:
But records are made to be broken, and it seems probable that before the City Hall of Philadelphia is finished its cost will have run up to still higher figures.

4 February 1910, Merrimack News (Lowell, MA), pg. 5, col. 1 ad:
Some one has said: “Records are only made to be broken.”

31 August 1911, Dallas (TX) Morning News, pg. 6:
Like piecrust, promises and aviation records are made to be broken.

Google Books
15 September 1911, Holstein-Friesian Register, volume 29, part 2, pg. 1061, col. 2:
Some one has said that pie-crust and records are made to be broken, but we need to be careful that suspicion as to methods adopted in breaking records do not rise to a point that discredit rather than credit will result.

Google Books
November-December 1917, Monotype: A Journal of Composing-room Efficiency, pg. 72, col. 1:
There is an old saying among sportsmen that “Records are made to be broken.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • (0) Comments • Saturday, November 19, 2011 • Permalink