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.

Recent entries:
“Life is basically all the stuff you have to do to get from coffee to wine time” (7/23)
“If people could hear the next five seconds after we hit ‘end call,’ we would have no friends” (7/22)
“In life, the only thing you ever have to do is die. Everything else is a choice” (7/22)
“Instagram is Twitter for people who can’t read” (7/22)
“Math is a drama queen. It can’t seriously have that many problems” (7/22)
More new entries...

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Entry from February 12, 2006
Street Smart & Street-Wise
"Street smart" perhaps started on the mean streets of New York City in the late 1950s-early 1960s. "Street-wise" is the slightly earlier term.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
street-smart a. U.S. slang = street-wise adj. (b) below; also street-smarts, the ability to live by one's wits in an urban environment

1976 (U.S.) 1 May 5/1 Rizzo is tough, *street-smart, charming in his own special way. 1976 N.Y. Times 9 Aug. 30 To be free, however, requires street-smarts, the cunning of the survivor.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
street-wise a. slang (orig. and chiefly U.S.), (a) familiar with the outlook of ordinary people in an urban environment; (b) cunning in the ways of modern urban life

1965 New Yorker 27 Mar. 78 A [social] worker therefore had to be wary as well as trustful, be security minded as well as loving, and be '*street-wise' as well as compassionate. 1971 18 June 37 Take a dirt-poor Sicilian peasant kid fresh out of steerage. Make him scrappy and street-wise.

24 October 1959, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 4:
While many honest men climbed, dozens of unscrupulous street wise and alley sharp men scrambled up the ladder.

15 November 1959, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 44:
Ascher formerly was director of the crime laboratory and is not as "street wise" as some of the former chiefs.

11 December 1960, Washington Post, "Fight Mob Has Met Its Match In 'Street Smart' John G. Bonomi" by Dave Brady, pg. C3:
Bonomi is relentlessly methodical in building his case with his investigative training: jealously careful about legal aspects to close all loopholes, but most of all he is what the fight mob calls "street smart."

He learned to be while helping kids on New York's sidewalks. For two years he was in charge of the Youth Parts of the Courts of General and Special Sessions.

4 June 1972, New York Times, pg. BR17:
Emmett Grogan is a freckle-faced Irish-American from Brooklyn. He learned to play Ringolevio in his childhood for money and glory -- until one game left one player dead and two critically injured -- and from it learned to be "street smart."
Posted by Barry Popik
Names/Phrases • (0) Comments • Sunday, February 12, 2006 • Permalink