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.

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Entry from May 28, 2018
Vain Stem (vain + Main Stem, for Broadway)

"Vain Stem” (vain + Main Stem) was a nickname for Broadway in Manhattan that was used in the 1930s and 1940s. “The newest name for B’way, ‘The Vain Stem,’” syndicated columnist Walter Winchell (1897-1972) wrote in his column on November 25, 1930. “In New York” syndicated columnist Paul Harrison also used the “Vain Stem” nickname.

Winchell last used “Vain Stem” in a column on December 4, 1958. The “Vain Stem” nickname is of historical interest today.


25 November 1930, Akron (OH) Beacon Journal, “On Broadway” by Walter Winchell, pg. 21, col. 1:
The newest name for B’way, “The Vain Stem.”

27 April 1932, Scranton (PA) Republican, “Broadway Notables In Riviera Picture,” pg. 14, col. 6:
...and you will have a combination that would break all current records on the “Vain Stem.”

2 May 1933, Daily News (New York, NY), “Behind the News” by Sidney Skolsky, pg. 40, col. 1:
Irving Hoffman, after listening to some of the folks on our Main Stem, suggests that the street should be called The Vain Stem.

24 October 1934, Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, “In New York” by Paul Harrison, pg. 6, col. 4:
NEW YORK, Oct. 24.—Meanderings: Broadway is called the Main Stem, and sometimes the Mean Stem, but Vain Stem fits it best. It’s a Gay Way, and a Play Way; the Rue Regret and the Boulevard des Hey-Hey. It’s a midway, a permanent sort of county fair with trimmings.

15 February 1935, Pittsburgh (PA) Press, “In New York” by Paul Harrison, pg. 28, col. 6:
High Hat Show
THE Vain Stem’s bright spots are gripped by an epidemic of society-girl entertainers, the theory being that Main Street thus can enjoy a flush of superiority over Park Avenue.

20 February 1935, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “In New York” by Paul Harrison, Green Sheet, pg. 2, col. 8:
New Slang on the Vain Stem

15 April 1935, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, Green Sheet, pg. 3, col. 4:
In New York
The Ah—Servant Problem—on Vain Stem

By PAUL HARRISON

10 July 1935, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, Green Sheet, pg. 3, col. 1:
In New York
Why Vain Stem Has Gone Patriotic

By PAUL HARRISON

19 May 1938, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “On Broadway” by Walter Winchell, pg. 11, col. 2:
Has anyone ever called Hollywood’s Vine Street—Vain Street?...Yeah, we were afraid of that...The Main Stem (here) was re-christened The Vain Stem just as long ago—so thay-er!

30 November 1934, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “On Broadway” by Walter Winchell, pg. 18, col. 1:
Vain Stem thespians basking in the spotlight of their bragging tongues.

4 December 1958, Lebanon (PA) Daily News, “On Broadway” by Walter Winchell, pg. 43, col. 6:
BIG CITY PANORAMA
(...)
The Vain Stem going to sleep bulb by bulb until only traffic lights blink in the darkness.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityStreets • Monday, May 28, 2018 • Permalink