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 August 08, 2016
City on the Make (Chicago nickname)

American author Lucius Beebe (1902-1966) called New York City “Babylon on the Make” in 1937 and several times in the 1940s. Atlanta was called a “city on the make” in Harper’s Magazine in 1949.

American author Nelson Algren (1909-1981) titled his 1951 Chicago essay, Chicago: City on the Make. “City on the Make” has been infrequently used as a Chicago nickname.


Wikipedia: Nelson Algren
Nelson Algren (March 28, 1909 – May 9, 1981) was an American writer. He may be best known for The Man with the Golden Arm, a 1949 novel that won the National Book Award and was adapted as a 1955 film of the same name.

Wikipedia: Chicago: City on the Make
Chicago: City on the Make is an essay by Nelson Algren published in 1951. Initially greeted with scorn by critics and newspaper editors in the city of its gaze (The Chicago Daily News famously called it a “Case for Ra(n)t Control"), it is now widely regarded by scholars as the definitive prose portrait of the city of Chicago, although it has never rivaled the literary status of Carl Sandburg’s 1916 poem “Chicago.” Algren leans heavily on the imagery and themes developed by Sandburg, to whom Algren dedicated the book. Curiously, he also quietly leans upon a poem about New York called “The City” by Ben Maddow, from whom Algren lifted powerful images of urban life. Subsequent portraits of Chicago, such as Studs Terkel’s 1985 Chicago, have likewise leaned heavily upon Algren’s work.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
slang (orig. U.S.). on the make: intent on profit or advancement; (also) intent on winning someone’s affections; seeking sexual pleasure; improving, advancing, getting better.
1863 S. P. Boyer Jrnl. 18 July in E. Barnes & J. A. Barnes Naval Surgeon I. ix. 158, I don’t think he acted very friendly but have an idea that he is on the ‘make’.
1869 J. R. Browne Adventures Apache Country 507 ‘Oh, you’re on the make, are you?’.. ‘Why, yes, to be candid, I’d like to make fifty thousand or so.’

In the 12,000-word lyrical essay, Algren summarizes 120 years of Chicago history as a tangle of hustlers, gangsters, and corrupt politicians, but he ultimately declares his love for the city with these famous lines: “Once you’ve become a part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies, but never a lovely so real.”

26 June 1937, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, “Stage Asides” by Lucius Beebe, sec. 6, pg. 14, col. 1:
The folk who make the glitter scene of Babylon-on-the-Make in 1937, however are all identifiable.

Google Books
Snoot If You Must
By Lucius Morris Beebe
New York, NY: D. Appleton-Century Company, Incorporated
1943
Pg. 1:
In saner communities business is not accomplished in the fine Scotch mist that envelops every sort of professional or commercial transaction in Babylon-on-the-Make, and the outlander is frightened out of his wits at the spectacle of people achieving their affairs in an atmosphere which in his mind is associated only with extravagant whoopdedo.

19 February 1944. New York (NY) Herald Tribune, “This New York” by Lucius Beebe, pg. 11, col. 1:
Babylon-on-the-Make’s archetypal citizen isn’t so much Father Knickerbocker as he is Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford.

22 July 1944, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, “This New York” by Lucius Beebe, pg. 9, col. 1:
... and other co-operative reporters who have found the Stork a lush source and fountainhead for yards of wonderful, wonderful copy about Babylon-on-the-Make.

1 July 1949, Harper’s Magazine, “The South Has Changed” by Mary Heaton Vorse, pg. 27:
The vivacity of Atlanta is a compound of the kindness of civilized manners and the drive of a city on the make.

OCLC WorldCat record
Chicago; city on the make.
Author: Nelson Algren
Publisher: Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1951.
Edition/Format: Print book : English : [1st ed.]

OCLC WorldCat record
Chicago: city on the make? : the case for balanced growth
Author: Ron Voss; Patricia Wright; Roger Kerson; Chicago Affordable Housing Coalition.
Publisher: Chicago : Chicago Affordable Housing Coalition, [1991?]
Edition/Format: Print book : English

YouTube
City on the Make (excerpt) by Nelson Algren
TEAMColum
Published on Jul 10, 2013
Text excerpt of Nelson Algren’s “City on the Make” read by poet Kevin Coval and set to footage of Chicago’s Red Line for Columbia College Chicago’s CCAP(Center for Community Arts Partnership) Summer Institute. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesWindy City, Second City, Chi-Town (Chicago nicknames) • Monday, August 08, 2016 • Permalink