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 Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 06, 2019
Gay Nineties (1890s)

The term “Gay Nineties” refers to the 1890s, when (supposedly) life was simpler and more fun ("gay"). The word “gay” in “Gay Nineties” did not mean “homosexual,” although that meaning was sometimes applied in the 1990s.

R. V. (Richard Vincent) Culter drew illustrations titled “The Gay Nineties” that were printed in Ogden (UT) Standard-Examiner and other newspapers on April 1, 1923. Culter then published a “Gay Nineties” series of illustrations for the New York City humor magazine Life from April 9, 1925 until March 22, 1928. Culter’s book, The Gay Nineties; A Book of Drawings (1927) contained some of these illustrations.

A New York City speakeasy and restaurant called “Bill’s Gay Nineties” opened in 1924 at 57 East 54th Street. The name was changed in the 2000s to ‘Bill’s.”


Wiktionary: Gay Nineties
Proper noun
Gay Nineties

1. (US) The decade of the 1890s, characterised by decadence, social scandal, and the beginning of the suffragette movement.

Wikipedia: Gay Nineties
The Gay Nineties is an American nostalgic term and a periodization of the history of the United States referring to the decade of the 1890s. It is known in the United Kingdom as the Naughty Nineties, and refers there to the decade of supposedly decadent art of Aubrey Beardsley, the witty plays and trial of Oscar Wilde, society scandals and the beginning of the suffragette movement.

Despite the term, the decade was marked by an economic crisis, which greatly worsened when the Panic of 1893 set off a widespread economic depression in the United States that lasted until 1896.

Etymology
The term Gay Nineties itself began to be used in the 1920s in the United States and is believed to have been created by the artist Richard V. Culter, who first released a series of drawings in Life magazine entitled “the Gay Nineties” and later published a book of drawings with the same name. The phrase has nothing to do with the modern usage of the term gay to refer to homosexuality and instead refers to the former meaning of the word, though a gay bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota uses the phrase as its name.

Bill’s (57 East 54th Street, New York City)
Restaurant and Piano Bar
A New York Original Speakeasy
(...)
When it was a speakeasy…
There’s an uplifting adage that goes, “When something bad happens God is closing a door but opening a window.” Well, in 1924, Bill Hardy took that adage literally and reversed it. He boarded up the windows and opened a door, and thus began the legend that is Bill’s Gay Nineties.

Having been a boxer, a jockey, a dance instructor, a Broadway dandy and married to one of the Ziegfield girls from the legendary Ziegfield Follies, who better than Mr. Bill Hardy to launch such a New York enterprise?

Newspapers.com
1 April 1923, Ogden (UT) Standard-Examiner, magazine sec., pg. 7, col. 2:
AMONG US MORTALS
THE GAY NINETIES
BY RICHARD VINCENT CULTER

15 September 1923, The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer (New Orleans, LA), “News-Pictures” by David D. Cooke, pg. 313, col. 1:
THE fag end of the “gay nineties” introduced news photography as an everyday newspaper attraction.

9 April 1925, Life (New York, NY), pg. 7, col. 1 illustration caption:
THE GAY NINETIES

28 June 1925, Denver (CO) Post, pg. 17, right masthead:
FROM THE GAY NINETIES.
“Where shall we go on our wedding trips—Niagara Falls?
“No, I’ve been there.”
“Why, I didn’t know you’d been married before!”—Life.

OCLC WorldCat record
The gay nineties; a book of drawings,
Author: R V Culter
Publisher: Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, Page & Company, 1927.
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Baker’s gay nineties scrapbook; a collection of stunts, skits, blackouts, readings, songs, dances, old-fashioned melodramas, monologues, travesties, novelties, for a complete gay nineties revue!
Author: John G Fuller; Baker’s Plays (Publisher)
Publisher: Boston, Baker’s Plays [©1941]
Series: Bakers plays.
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The gay nineties
Author: Freddie Hall, musician.
Publisher: New York : Spinorama, [1958]
Edition/Format: Music LP : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Gay nineties.
Author: Colby D Hall
Publisher: San Antonio : Naylor Co., [1961]
Edition/Format: Print book : Biography : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The gay nineties : an anthology of contemporary gay fiction
Author: Phil Willkie; Greg Baysans; James W. Jones Collection of Gay and Lesbian Literature.
Publisher: Freedom, CA : Crossing Press, ©1991.
Edition/Format: Print book : Fiction : English

Eater—New York
New Restaurant in Bill’s Gay Nineties Space Opens Tomorrow
Another restaurateur has taken it over

by Serena Dai Apr 26, 2016, 4:28pm EDT
The space of the former 90-year-old bar Bill’s Gay Nineties now has another new face. Restaurateur Curt Huegel, the former founder of LDV Hospitality, has taken over the restaurant and turned it into Bill’s New York City, an American restaurant that he tried to make feel as nostalgic as possible. “I have always loved the building,” he says in a statement. “There are very few classic restaurants that identify with the old NYC. Bill’s is one of them.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTime/Weather • Friday, September 06, 2019 • Permalink