"Big Apple" Origins Solved; Manhattan Borough President Mystery Intensifies
November 2nd, 2005

This is a story that begins in weirdness and ends illuminating something about politics in NYC, though I’m not sure what.

The 2005 Voters Directory from the New York City Campaign Finance Board is a useful guide that offers information supplied directly by the candidates who will be on the ballot in the general election.

The information for Barry Popik, the candidate of the Republican and Liberal parties for the office of Manhattan Borough President (one of five people running for that position), includes the question: 3. what makes you the best candidate for this office? His answer:

” I will never forget finally dedicating “Big Apple Corner,” alone, in the rain, while my mother was dying. No one needs to question my dedication to New York. But you shouldn’t vote for me for that, or because I found the first “beep” (borough president), or “hizzoner,” or New York “Yankees” (they played in Manhattan as the “Highlanders”), or the Manhattan cocktail, or Manhattan clam chowder, or the origin of “the Great White Way.” The difference is the qualities I’ve displayed to do all this.”

Karol Sheinin was stumped. “I just have to ask ‘what the?'” reacted the blogger of Alarming News, whose Republican party loyalty was severely tested: “Now, I don’t have to agree with the candidate on everything but I do have to know what the hell they’re talking about.”

Barry Popik himself replied, commenting both in Alarming News and in The Politicker. He explained that he claims to have solved the mystery of why New York City is called the Big Apple — a “dusky stablehand” in New Orleans coined the phrase — and is responsible for former Mayor Rudy Giuliani having named the southwest corner of West 54th Street and Broadway the Big Apple Corner. (Presumably the rest of his answer in the voters directory concerned other coinages he unearthed). Then he went on to complain about the state of politics and the press in the city:

“We’re outnumbered 5-1 in NYC, but it’s worse in Manhattanwhere we’re outnumbered 8-1. It’s no secret that every elected official in Manhattan is a Democrat.No Republican has held the Manhattan BP post for 60 years, since La GuardiaUnless there’s some free-spending millionaire out there to level the playing field, the press just isn’t interested.”

Actually, Fiorello LaGuardia was never Manhattan Borough President, certainly not 60 years ago; in 1945, he was coming to the end of his 12 years as mayor.

By on November 2, 2005, 12:56 pm
In category: Electoral Politics,Gotham City | 5 Comments »

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5 Responses to “"Big Apple" Origins Solved; Manhattan Borough President Mystery Intensifies”

  1. Karol Says:
    November 2nd, 2005 at 4:31 pm

    whose Republican party loyalty was severely tested

    Hahaha. My party loyalty is always tested in this city.

  2. Barry Popik Says:
    November 2nd, 2005 at 5:31 pm

    I had meant to say since the “La Guardia administration.” I had used the mayor’s name simply because it is more memorable than the actual BP’s name of 60 years ago. I’m very proud to be in the same party as La Guardia.

    As you may know, I am an Oxford English Dictionary consultant in addition to being a NYC administrative law judge. My popular NYC dictionary-type website (also provided in the Voters Guide) has received over a million website hits.

    “The Big Apple” is important, not just because it’s one thing that I’ve done that is outstanding. I first gave my research papers to the Manhattan Borough President’s office, fifteen years ago. I gave my research papers to the next Manhattan Borough President. Although my work is on the web pages of the NY Historical Society and the Museum of the City of NY, the Manhattan Borough President has never replied. As a result, the “dusky stablehand” from New Orleans has never been honored.

    There are real issues in this race. The borough presidents are being bought with real estate money. The public’s 4-1 match of much of this money is obscene and promotes _bad_ government. The Working Families Party has clearly appears to have improperly meddled in the Democratic primary for Manhattan Borough President. The Campaign Finance Board case is still pending. The Democratic winner may be a crook.

    The public should know about all this.

  3. Barry Popik Says:
    November 2nd, 2005 at 5:39 pm

    By the way, I’ve also researched the origin of “wonk.” It was used in the Harvard Lampoon of the 1950s, where “wonk” was said to be “know” spelled backwards!

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