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 January 18, 2016
City of Magnificent Distances (Washington, DC nickname)

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as “Washington”, “the District”, or simply “D.C.”, is the capital of the United States. The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country’s East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District is therefore not a part of any U.S. state.

The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. Named in honor of George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District.

19 February 1824, Independent Inquirer and Commercial Advertiser (Providence, RI), pg. 1, col. 5:
FROM THE EDITOR OF THE GALAXY.
Washington, Feb. 3.
Pg. 2, col. 1:
This city of magnificent distances is celebrated for its high winds.

31 January 1832, Portland Advertiser and Gazette of Maine (Portland, ME), pg. 4, col. 2:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 18.
The streets being stripped of their snowy mantle by the warm rays of an almost summer sun, I took the afternoon to stroll over the city of “magnificent distances” as John Randolph forcibly characterised it.

21 February 1832, Portland Advertiser and Gazette of Maine (Portland, ME), pg. 3, cols. 1-2:
WASHINGTON, FEB. 11.
(...)
I am ever thinking of that expressive remark of Randolph—“the city of magnificent distances.” These distances put coaches in frequent requisition, and make it quite unfashionable to walk. So numerous are the hackney coachmen, that when Mr. Clay or Mr. Hayne has spoken, the avenues of the capitol are so lined that a stranger would have thought some great fete was going on. All have frequent cause to regret, that Washington and Georgetown were not brought nearer together, as the two towns would have constituted a magnificent city, though bereft of the magnificent distances.

4 February 1870, New York (NY) Commercial Advertiser, pg. 3, col. 3:
The RIchmond WHig claims that John Randolph is the author of the title so frequently applied to Washington—“A City of Magnificent Distances,” but Forney says that it originated half a century ago with Abbe Correa da Serra, Minister of Portugal, “one of the wittiest of foreigners who ever made Americans happy in their social gatherings.”

27 November 1914, San Francisco (CA) Chronicle, “The City of Magnificent Distances,” pg. 6, cols. 6-7:
When the government was moved to Washington in 1800 it was far from being a satisfactory place of residence. The city was laid out in the wilderness. They “took to the woods” for a Capital City. It was the first time that a government had actually gone into the wilds and selected a site for a capital and laid out its city on a well-defined plan. Australia is not about to be the second country to pursue such a course, and has recently had a commission in AMerica to study the plan of Washington, with a view to laying out as beautiful a city, or improving upon it if possible. As beautiful as we consider Washington today, the Minister of Portugal, Abbe Serra, who was considered one of the greatest wits of his time and who in 1816 called it “The City of Magnificent Distances,” so named it purely in derision. In that day there was little but distance to the city. Charles DIckens, after his visit, wrote that “Its streets being in nothing and lead to nowhere.”—Frederick L. Fishback, in National Magazine.

OCLC WorldCat record
City of Magnificent Distances, the Nation’s Capital : a checklist
Author: Andrew J Cosentino; Richard W Stephenson; Cheryl A Regan; Library of Congress. Geography and Map Division.
Publisher: Washington, D.C. : Geography and Map Division, the Library of Congress, 1991.
Edition/Format: Print book : National government publication : English

OCLC WorldCat record
City of magnificent distances : toward local governance and social exclusion in Washington, D.C.
Author: Thomas A Neeley; Dartmouth College. Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program.
Publisher: 2006.
Dissertation: M.A.L.S. Dartmouth College 2006
Edition/Format: Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript Archival Material : English

Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesCity of Magnificent Distances (Washington, DC nickname) • Monday, January 18, 2016 • Permalink