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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from July 30, 2006
Queens Topographical Poem

A Queens topographical poem—written in 1926 by Ellis Parker Butler—attempted to easily explain the new street numbering.
3 December 1926, New York Times, pg. 8:
E. P. Butler’s Rhyming System
Guides All Folks When Street
Plans Twist ‘Em.
Ellis Parker Butler, humorist, who lives in Flushing, Queens, has lately taken an interest in the street naming and house numbering system now being carried on throughout the borough. He has discussed the subject with Charles U. Powell, engineer in charge of the Topographical Bureau, and has suggested a rhyme, which, like the old rhyme for remembering the number of days in the month—“Thirty days hath September”—is hoped will become as useful to Queens residents.
Queens Borough is having its streets named and houses numbered under the modern method known as the Philadelphia method.
In Queens to find locations best—
Avenues, roads and drives run west;
But ways to north or south, ‘tis plain
Are streets or place or even lane;
While even numbers you will meet
Upon the west and south of street.
14 September 1937, New York Times, pg. 23:
His “Pigs Is Pigs” Made Nation
Laugh Thirty Years Ago—
Author of 32 Books
Had Served As Bank Executive
in Flushing, Where He Lived
30 Years—Succumbs at 67
30 July 2006, New York Times, City section, F.Y.I. by Michael Pollak, pg. CY2:
The bureau’s glory year was 1911, when Charles Underhill Powell, a chief engineer there, designed the numbering system to unify the street grid for the 60 or so villages in Queens. Some historians considered the numbered grid a model of urban planning. Many delivery people and outsiders venturing into the borough don’t.

Mr. Powell liked to help the uninitiated by distributing a verse by the humorist Ellis Parker Butler, who lived in Flushing:

In Queens, to find locations best
Avenues, roads and drives run west;
But ways to north or south ’tis plain
Are street or place or even lane.


Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityStreets • Sunday, July 30, 2006 • Permalink

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