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 May 12, 2008
Hamlet on the Hudson (Hamlet of the Hudson)

New York Governor Mario Cuomo gave the keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, and he was strongly considered a presidential candidate in 1988 and 1992, but he never ran. Cuomo waited and considered running for so long that he was dubbed “Hamlet on the Hudson” (or “Hamlet of the Hudson,” to distinguish from towns or hamlets on the Hudson River). The moniker dates from at least 1986 and refers to Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, with its indecisive lead character who debates “to be, or not to be.”

“Hamlet on the Hudson” also refers to small towns on the Hudson River (such as Tarrytown) or, humorously, to New York City. In 2008, Congressman Vito Fossella of Staten Island debated whether to run for re-election and was dubbed “Hamlet on the Verrazano (Bridge).”

Wikipedia: Mario Cuomo
Mario Matthew Cuomo (/ˈkwoʊmoʊ/; June 15, 1932 – January 1, 2015) was an American politician and member of the Democratic Party. He served as the 52nd Governor of New York for three terms, from 1983 to 1994, Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1979 to 1982; and Secretary of State of New York from 1975 to 1978.

Wikipedia: Hamlet
Hamlet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601. The play, set in Denmark, recounts how Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on his uncle Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet’s father, the King, and then taken the throne and married Hamlet’s mother. The play vividly charts the course of real and feigned madness—from overwhelming grief to seething rage—and explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and moral corruption.

Despite much literary detective work, the exact year of writing remains in dispute. Three different early versions of the play have survived: these are known as the First Quarto (Q1), the Second Quarto (Q2) and the First Folio (F1). Each has lines, and even scenes, that are missing from the others. Shakespeare probably based Hamlet on the legend of Amleth, preserved by 13th-century chronicler Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum and subsequently retold by 16th-century scholar François de Belleforest, and a supposedly lost Elizabethan play known today as the Ur-Hamlet.

The play’s dramatic structure and depth of characterisation mean that Hamlet can be analyzed, interpreted and argued about from many perspectives. For example, commentators have puzzled for centuries about Hamlet’s hesitation in killing his uncle. Some see it as a plot device to prolong the action, and others see it as the result of pressure exerted by the complex philosophical and ethical issues that surround cold-blooded murder, calculated revenge and thwarted desire. More recently, psychoanalytic critics have examined Hamlet’s unconscious desires, and feminist critics have re-evaluated and rehabilitated the often-maligned characters of Ophelia and Gertrude.

Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play, and among the most powerful and influential tragedies in the English language.

Wikipedia: To be, or not to be
The phrase “to be, or not to be” comes from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (written about 1600), Act III, scene I, and it is often used in reference to the whole speech the line opens, and considered by some people to be among the most famous quotations in world literature. The soliloquy, spoken in the play by the eponymous character, follows in its entirety:

“To be, or not to be, that is the question;
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to — ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life,
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.”

Wikipedia: Hudson River
The Hudson River, called Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk in Mahican, the Great Mohegan by the Iroquois, or as the Lenape Native Americans called it in Unami, Muhheakantuck, Θkahnéhtati in Tuscarora), is a river that runs through the eastern portion of New York State and, along its southern terminus, demarcates the border between the states of New York and New Jersey. It is named for Henry Hudson, an Englishman sailing for the Dutch East India Company, who explored it in 1609. The Hudson River was originally named the Mauritius River, which is claimed to be the name given by Hudson in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau. Alternatively, it is said to be the name given by Sixteenth century European adventurers, explorers, and fishermen who knew the river as River Mauritius, ‘The River of Mountains’. 

Google Books
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Allusions
by Elizabeth Webber and Mike Feinsilber
Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster
Pg. 252:
Hamlet A legendary Danish prince and here of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, or someone who behaves like the Shakespearean character—soul-searching, melancholy, and tortured by indecision.
During his long political career as Democratic governor of New York, Mario Cuomo was frequently characterized as a Hamlet for his public indecision about whether to run for the presidency. He was referred to as the Hamlet of the Hudson or Hamlet of Albany.

13 April 1913, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “Tarrytown Tries Knox Fire Auto,” pg. 41, col. 5:
This well-known hamlet on the Hudson purchased a Knox-Martin Tractor last year…

12 September 1933, San Mateo (CA) Times, pg. 6, col. 7:
For years the Giants have been a poor drawing card in that little hamlet on the Hudson known as New York.

3 June 1986, Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal, “Cuomo in good position” by John McLaughlin, pg. A11, col. 1:
And all of it serves to make Kemp’s fellow New York contender, Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo—the Hamlet of the Hudson—look pretty good.

Time magazine
Letting The Cup Pass
Monday, Mar. 02, 1987 By RICHARD STENGEL
Mario Cuomo is blessed—or cursed—with the ability to see both sides of any argument. As a lawyer, he was trained to plead pro and con and was always deft at making his case. As a man, he is inclined to argue inwardly, to question his motivations, his ambitions.

Openly for the past four months, inwardly for a good deal longer, Cuomo has been weighing the prospect of running for President. Tentative, sometimes coy, playing Hamlet on the Hudson, he has offered only hints as to what was going on inside his mind. But of late the New York Governor seemed to be off and running, what with testimony in Washington, a speech in California, a trip to New Orleans, plans to go to Iowa and New Hampshire. Many Democrats saw him as a figure who could inspire Democratic voters with an eloquent message of national compassion combined with fiscal common sense, although he has been criticized recently for favoring polished rhetoric over nitty-gritty discussion of the issues.

16 April 1988, Washington (DC) Post, “David Garth, Contentiously: The Media Maven Is the Message” by Lloyd Grove:
Says Garth of the current race: “I looked at Dukakis and Jackson, and it was obvious that Hamlet on the Hudson”—another dig at Cuomo—“wasn’t gonna make a ... “

7 April 1991, Roanoke (VA) Times, “Presidential Campaign Primer,” pg. D1:
MARIO CUOMO: If Hamlet on the Hudson finally takes the plunge, he instantly overshadows everybody.

Mario Cuomo, Hamlet on the Hudson. (American Survey)
The Economist (US), September, 1991
Mario Cuomo continues to have no plans but has never categorically denied that he will run for president. Handicaps he would have running against Pres Bush, some of which the governor points out himself, are examined.

New York Daily News - Daily Politics blog
May 12, 2008
Savino Awaits Decision From ‘Hamlet On The Verrazano’
Sen. Diane Savino, one of several Democrats eyeing a run against Rep. Vito Fossella since the one-two punch of his drunk driving arrest and love child revelation, rejected the suggestion that it’s somehow unfair to box out the two candidates already raising money: Steve Harrison and Councilman Domenic Recchia, both of Brooklyn.
The person who holds most of the cards is Fossella himself, whom Savino jokingly referred to as “Hamlet on the Verrazano” (a nod to another pol who rather famously couldn’t make up his mind). 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • Monday, May 12, 2008 • Permalink