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 25, 2004
Brooklyn Side, New York Side (tenpins)
The terms "Brooklyn side" and "New York side" in bowling go back to around 1900. "Jersey side" and "New York side" are sometimes used now, but "Jersey side" is a modern corruption, of course.

13 January 1911, Decatur (IL) Review, pg. 4, cols. 1-2:

St. Louis, Jan. 13. - Do you tenpin? Of course - you have to, to be in style, for the next month. It's quite Country Clubby, you know. If you doubt, drift into the Middgy club's lounging place and see the Silk Stocking Seven at work.


But supposing that you do bowl--bowl at times when it's not just the fad. Suppose you're a regular. Do you know what is meant by the "Brooklyn side"? And if you are so close to the inner circle of the game that you happen to have heard the expression, do you know its origin?


It's a grape fruit to a grape seed you don't.

Here's the story--it's told by H. W. Harrington, now of St. Louis, formerly a member of the champion Chicago team, which beat the New York cracks back in the dim days before the American Bowling congress was a de facto organization. That is to say, just twelve years ago.


Harrington and one of his teammates on the five that made the memorable trip to New York from the Windy City in 1899, W. V. THompson, will bowl an exhibition match as one of the features of the national championship tournament, which will open here Jan. 21. Here's Mr. Harrington's tale:


"The alleys were not alltogether at their best. THey had been bowled on a good deal and there were spots where the bowler would be favored, if he could only search them out. To this end Brill had been studying the boards during the match. The alleys were located downtown near the river and so disposed that the left-hand side of the runway was toward Brooklyn.


"Thompson walked up to shoot his first ball and Brill could see from his stand that he was going after the "one-three" break. This means hitting on the right hand-side of the head pin. Brill had observed some ugly "splits" resulted from this play. As Thompson was about to make his shot Brill shouted out:

"Not that way, not that way--try the 'Brooklyn side!':

Thompson halted in his delivery when Brill went over and explained.

"All the good breaks are coming on the left side of the head pin. Play for the one-two, instead of the one-three break."


"Thompson did and struck the game out, winning the match by ten pins majority.

"Among the bowlers the 'one-three' break, using a hook ball, is considered safest to give best results, especially on new alleys. But whenever they find that the alleys are not "grooved" to suit their particular style of bowling they always try the 'Brooklyn side.'

"The name still clings."

9 January 1917, Mansfield (Ohio) News, pg. 12, col. 2:
Left-handed bowlers start their deliveries on the left-handed corner, but shoot for the 1-2 or "Brooklyn," instead of the "New York," ar right-handers do.

Only when a bowler fails to get pins on a 1-3 hit, does he cross over to the 1-2 or "Brooklyn" side. It all depends on the alley.

22 April 1917, Washington Post, pg. S2:
Same Results Possible on "Brooklyn" as "New York" side"

A 1-3 hit in tenpins is called "the New York," while when a pin-toppler hits them on the other side of the 1-2 it is termed a "Brooklyn"

The terms originated many years ago in New York in a famous match, when one of the men bowling found that he could get plus equally as well by hitting the 1-2 as the 1-3.

The alleys on which the above match was rolled ran parallel with the river. The 1-2 side of the pine faced toward the river or Brooklyn side, and the 1-3 inland or to New York.

3 June 1958, New York Times, pg. 40:
...I hit the Brooklyn side (between the 1 and 2 pins)...
Posted by Barry Popik
Sports/Games • (0) Comments • Sunday, July 25, 2004 • Permalink