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 February 15, 2006
Big Apple of Wathena, Kansas (1928-1940)
There used to be a building (restaurant/dance hall) in the shape of a big apple near Wathena, Kansas. The "Big Red Apple" building was opened in 1928 -- before the 1937 big apple dance craze. It is not the source of New York City's "Big Apple" nickname.

A fire destroyed the structure in the 1929, it was rebuilt in 1930, and then another fire destroyed it in 1940.

Similar "Big Apple" roadside attractions include a "Big Red Apple" in Cornelia, Georgia (1926-present), a "Big Apple" kiosk in Mumbles, Swansea Bay, Wales (1930s-present), a "Big Apple" at Robinette's Apple Haus in Grand Rapids, Michigan (1973-present), a "Big Apple" tourist information booth in Meaford, Ontario, Canada (1974-present), a "Big Apple" in Thulimbah, Queensland, Australia (1978-present), a "Big Apple" in Colborne, Ontario, Canada (1987-present), a "Big Apple" at the Big Apple Cafe & Event Centre in Waitomo Caves, New Zealand (1995-present), a "Big Apple" in Medina, New York (2000-present), a "Big Apple" at the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan (2008-present), "La Mela Reintegrata" or "The Apple Made Whole Again" at Central Station in Milan, Italy (2015-present) and the "Big Apple of New England" at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts (2019-present).

22 July 1928, St. Joseph (MO) Gazette, pg. 8B, col. 3:
Novel Structure Near Wathena
to House Dance Hall; Plan

They don't make them any bigger than this one.

This is the largest "apple" in one of the greatest apple growing regions of the world, as well as the most expensive.

It is called the "Big Red Apple," and is part of the tourist camp being established at Hunt Brothers' farm, two miles west of Wathena on U. S. Highway No. 36.

It was completed recently at a cost of approximately $10,000. It is 30 feet high and 32 feet in diameter, with two floors, and from the outside looks much like a real Jonathan apple of giant proportions.

The first floor will be used for serving apple, cider, other apple products and refreshments.

More than 100 persons are to be accommodated on the dance floor on the second floor. The structure soon is to be thrown open to the pubic. It was designed by Eckel & Aldrich, St. Joseph architects.

Sixteen cottages will make up the tourist camp, which is being built in connection with the big apple. They will be of the double type, each with a furnished room and a shelter for an automobile. A comfort station with hot and cold showerbaths is to be a part of the camp.

17 August 1928, St. Joseph (MO) Gazette, pg. 4, col. 8:
'Big Red Apple,' West of
Wathena, Opens Saturday

The formal opening of the "Big Red Apple" at the Hunt Brothers' orchards,, two miles west of Wathena, will take place Saturday. The first floor of the apple-shaped building is a refreshment place; the second floor is to be use as a hall.

A modern tourist camp, including a tennis court, has been established in connection with the "apple."

17 August 1928, St. Joseph (KS) News-Press, pg. 17, col. 5 ad:
The Largest Apple
in the World
Opens for Business
Saturday, August 18th
Drive West of Wathena, Kan., on the
Troy Road and See
The Big Red Apple

19 September 1929, Cameron (MO) Sun, pg. B1, col. 4:
"Big Red Apple" Burns
The "Big Red Apple," popular refreshment stand a few miles out of St. Joseph on the Kansas side, burned Sunday. It is understood a gasoline coffee urn exploded and caused the blaze. The establishment was completely destroyed.

29 October 1929, St. Joseph (MO) News-Press, pg. 2, col. 4:
Hunt Brothers Award Contract for
Structure Near Wathena.

12 April 1930, St. Joseph (MO) Gazette, pg. 12, col. 6 ad:
The New
Big Red Apple
The Largest Apple in the World
Dance and Dine in the Red Apple
Opens Saturda, April 12th
Bigger and Better Than Ever

23 October 1937, Standard-Sentinel (Hazleton, PA), pg. 20, col. 3 photo caption:
ORIGINAL "BIG APPLE" -- Dancers everywhere are doing the "Big Apple". But few know that this is the original "Big Apple", a unique country cafe and ballroom near Wathena, Kas. capital of the Kansas apple country.

25 November 1937, McKean County Democrat (Smethport, PA), pg. 3, col. 2 photo caption:
Here's the Original "Big Apple"
Dancers everywhere are doing the "Big Apple," but few know about the original which happens to be this unique country cafe and ballroom near Wathena, Kan., the capital of the apple country.

1 May 1938, San Francisco (CA) Examiner, American Weekly, pg. 4:
An Architect's Clever Version of the Big Apple
Photo caption:
Wathena, Kansas, Is Proud of Its "Big Apple" Restaurant and Dance Hal, Which Is in the Heart of An Orcharding Region and Was Erected Before the Big Apple Dance Became Nationally Popular.

WHENEVER a new dance craze, a popular radio or movie character or other much publicized figure is thrust into the limelight, restaurants and night-clubs are immediately named after it. From Maine to California, a man motoring over state highways is confronted with signs recommending that he try the culinary delights at the "Three Little Pigs," the "Garbo," the "Charlie McCarthy" and other places named after the great, and near great.

In fact one can almost tell the year in which the eating place was opened by the name given to it and transcontinental motorists have eased the boredom of their long trips by playing a guessing game with the restaurants they pass along the way.

They all fall down when they pass through Wathena, Kansas, and glimpse the Big Apple. While the dance itself is a recent one, the Big Apple, a large, two-story dance hall and eating place shaped like an apple, with a coat of rosy colored paint and a chimney in the form of a stem, has been a Kansas land mark for many years.

Long before the Big Apple dance craze swept over the country from Dixie and set thousands of youngsters to swaying, bending and going through contortions, the folks of Wathena and its environs were pointing to the Big Apple dance hall with pardonable pride.

Living in a section of the state where big, luscious apples are grown, they felt the dance hall proprietor was doing his bit to publicize this fruit and the farmers who own the orchards.

The Walthenans showed their appreciation by patronizing the Big Apple and on Saturday nights, young blades with their hair slicked down and girls in their very best frocks, drive into town from miles around to meet at the novel dance hall to step to the latest dance tunes.

When the Big Apple craze hit Kansas recently, it found a dance hall already built to match it.

13 July 1940, Wichita (KS) Eagle, pg. 1, col. 1:
WATHENA, KAN., July 13. -- (UP) -- The Big Red Apple dance hall located in the heart of the Doniphan county apple district, burned last night as a result of defective wiring. The structure, built at a cost of $20,000, was in the shape of a huge apple.

Newspapers.com (first part of article)
Newspapers.com (second part of article)
6 May 1988, St. Joseph (MO) News-Press, "Young at Heart" sec., pg. 4, cols. 1-3:
Apple roadside oddity

4 October 1992, St. Joseph (MO) News-Press, pg. 2C, col. 2:
Advertised as the largest apple ever grown, the Big Red Apple on U.S. Highway 36, eight miles west of St. Joseph near Wathena, Kan., was owned by the Hunt Brothers, who also owned a 600-acre apple orchard nearby The 30-foot-tall apple an its grounds featured a campground, gasoline station and 'courteous' attendants, restrooms, refreshments, roof garden and dance floor.

26 July 2001, St. Joseph (MO) News-Press, pg. B4, cols. 3-4:
Big Red Apple puts Wathena on the map
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityThe Big Apple1970s-present: False Etymologies • Wednesday, February 15, 2006 • Permalink

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