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 September 14, 2010
El Chuco or Chucotown (El Paso nickname)

El Paso is infrequently called “El Chuco” or “Chuco Town”/“Chucotown.” The term comes from the word “pachuco,” a Mexican Spanish Caló dialect word of disputed origin, dating from the 1930s-1940s.
“El Pachuco” is cited in print since at least the 1950s, “El Chuco” is cited from 1965, and “Chuco Town” is cited from 2005.
Wikipedia: El Paso, Texas
El Paso (pronounced /ɛlˈpæsoʊ/) is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, and lies in West Texas. According to the United States Census Bureau’s 2009 population estimates, the city had a population of 620,447 (July 2009). It is the sixth-largest city in Texas and the 22nd-largest city in the United States. Its metropolitan area covers all of El Paso County. In 2009, the El Paso metropolitan area had a population of 751,296. The metropolitan population is estimated to be at 804,000 as of the 2010 census.
El Paso stands on the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte), across the border from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The image to the right shows Downtown El Paso and Juárez, with the Juárez Mountains in the background. The two cities form a combined international metropolitan area, sometimes called Juarez-El Paso, with Juárez being the significantly larger of the two. Together they have a combined population of 2 million, with Juárez accounting for 2/3 of the population. In 2010 El Paso was awarded an All-America City Award, prestigious & the oldest community recognition program in the nation.
Wikipedia: Pachuco
Pachucos are Mexican American youths who developed their own subculture during the 1930s and 1940s in the Southwestern United States. They wore distinctive clothing (such as zoot suits) and spoke their own dialect of Mexican Spanish, called Caló or Pachuco. Due to their double marginalization stemming from their youth and ethnicity, there has always been a close association and cultural cross-pollination between the Pachuco subculture and gang subculture.
One famous pachuco is Roy Estrada, a bass player and former performer in the Mothers of Invention.
The Pachuco style originated in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez Mexico and moved westward, following the line of migration of Mexican railroad workers (“traqueros”) into Los Angeles, where it developed further. The word “pachuco” originated, probably early in the 20th century, in a Mexican Spanish slang term for a resident of the cities of El Paso and Juárez. Even today, El Paso and Juárez are the “El Chuco Town” or “El Pasiente” by some.
Another theory is that the derivation of the word “pachuco” came from Pachuca, the name of the city in the Mexican state of Hidalgo where Mickey Garcia, thought by some to be the originator of the zoot suit, befriended a local of the town known as “El Hueso”. El Hueso was an elderly man known only to have a tattoo on his right shoulder. It is unknown what the tattoo said but some have claimed that it bore two names: one beginning with a “J” and the other with a “B”. Mickey Garcia brought his style from Pachuca, Mexico to San Diego. Another theory says that the word derives from pocho, a derogatory term for a Mexican born in the United States who has lost touch with the Mexican culture. The word is also said to mean “punk” or “troublemaker”.
Urban Dictionary
1) Short for “Pachuco”. Mexican Culture started in El Paso, Texas.
2) A Nickname for El Paso, Texas.
Let’s go to chuco and do nothing because there’s nothing to do there.
by LC Rogers Nov 23, 2006
Urban Dictionary
El Chuco
El Paso, Texas
I’m headed for El Chuco, where the women are women and the men ain’t no competition.
by John MacAyeal Sep 15, 2003
Urban Dictionary
The Chucotown is El Paso, Texas.
Ey man I live in chucotown!
by mchula Sep 3, 2005
Google Books
Pachuco: an American-Spanish argot and its social functions in Tucson, Arizona
By George Carpenter Barker
Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press
1958, ©1950
Pg. 19:
Spanish   Pachuco   Meaning
El Paso       El pachuco El Paso
Google Books
The tongue of the Tirilones:
A linguistic study of a criminal argot

By Lurline Hughes Coltharp
Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press
Pg. 180:
El Chuco n. phr.
El Paso (the city of El Paso, Texas)
See also: El Pachuco
22 October 1970, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, pg. B2, col. 6:
On Origin of “Chicano”
EDITOR: This is written to enlighten some of the many experts that have surged to explain where the origin of the word Chicano came from. “Chicano” is a border slang word called “Calo,” like the word “Pachuco” or “El Chuco.” The word was born in El Paso during World War II. (...)—E. A. Gonzales, 8509 Capitan drive.
Google Books
South El Paso; El Segundo Barrio
By Salvador Ramirez
Boulder, CO University of Colorado
Pg. 8:
(EL Chuco)
29 December 1971, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post,“Chicano Movement - No. 3: Gang Wars Reveal Southside Problems” by Bob Ybarra, pg. B1, col. 5:
WORLD WAR II brought assimilation of many Mexican-Americans with persons outside “El Chuco” (El Paso) and from other barrios.
Google Books
Canto y grito mi liberación (y lloro mis desmadrazgos ... ); pensamientos, gritos, orgullos, penumbras poeticas, ensayos, historietas, hechizos almales del son de mi existencia ...
By Ricardo Sánchez
El Paso, TX: Mictla Publications
Pg. ?:
Thus the Pachuco became a movement— a movement that had its genesis in El Paso, Texas. A city that would become known among the carnales as El Chuco ( the pachuco city). The Pachuco movement went back many years— to the 1930’s in the streets of the el Segundo barrio.
Google Books
La Tierra Amarilla:
The people of the Chama Valley

By Anselmo F Arellano
Tierra Amarilla, NM: Chama Valley Schools
Pg. 51:
“El Chuco” is also the colloquial way of saying El Paso, the city where Pachucos and their idiom originated.
8 March 1993, The Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica), “Latinos—a multi-faceted, multi-cultural people” by Anita Snow, pg. 8, col. 1:
They were his schoolmates and his neighbors and his fellow reporters at the El Paso Herald-Post. But once he left the border town known as El Chuco to work as a writer in San Francisco and later New York, Shorris discovered other Latinos—Puerto Ricans, Salvadorans, Chileans, Argentines, Cubans, Nicaraguans, Costa Ricans.
25 July 1993, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “Painting the Town: Mural partnership in El Paso becomes social, artistic cause” by Suzanne Gamboa, pg. A1:
El Chuco is the slang name for El Paso. The name is an abbreviation of pachuco, which describes members of a Mexican American subculture whose clothes mimick…
Google Books
Border Correspondent:
Selected Writings, 1955-1970

By Ruben Salazar  
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press
Pg. 6:
When Ruben was eight months old his parents moved across the shallow Rio Grande and settled in El Paso, or “El Chuco,” as it was known by the Chicanos and pachucos of the 1940s and 1950s.
Google Books
A Biography of the People

By Earl Shorris  
New York, NY: W.W. Norton
Pg. 5:
The etymology of El Chuco as well as pachuco is uncertain. One version is that pachuco is a contraction of para El Chuco (to El Paso).
Google Books
Lalo: my life and music
By Lalo Guerrero and Sherilyn Meece Mentes
Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press
Pg. 97:
My first encounter with pachucos goes back to 1933 or so when young men from West Texas would hop on a freight train to go to California. They spoke a kind of slang called caló. They called El Paso “El Chuco” and California “Califas.”
Tom Brady
06-21-2005, 06:40 PM
Location: Chuco Town AKA El Paso Texas
City-Data Forum - Texas - El Paso
Question: Why “El Chuco”? (El Paso: credit, neighborhoods, gangs)
01-17-2008, 05:00 PM
I recall not very long ago, hardly anyone had any clue El Paso was called El Chuco, the word was pretty dormant, sounds pretty “MACHO” it is, yet I once brought up the subject in the old El Paso Times forum and now several people have adopted the name as their own, not bad.
Then again with a name like El Chuco, it will attract stereotypes and the negative objectors, then if someone else from another culture would have called El Paso something like the Little Apple or something like that it would be ok I guess, there are people that will actually rag on this one word, El Chuco.
In the Mexican and Mexican/American community El Paso is known as El Chuco, and Mexican people tend to call their neighborhoods nicknames names like barrios de los Indios, neighborhood of the Indians or La Calavera “the Skull”, barrio del Diablo, neighborhood of the Devil, you’ll find neighborhoods with names like this in El Paso, so from the pachuco’s came the word El Chuco meaning El Paso’s nickname in the modern day Chicano culture.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Tuesday, September 14, 2010 • Permalink

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