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 November 02, 2010
“George Washington slept here”

Historic American inns often make the overused claim: “George Washington slept here.” George Washington fought in New York City and was inaugurated president in New York City (briefly the nation’s capital city). The line was so familiar that George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart titled a Broadway comedy George Washington Slept Here (1940).

It cannot be dated exactly when the line became a cliché. The July 1914 The House Beautiful seems to indicate that the Washington claim was a cliché by this date (much before the play):

“Nearly every historic land-mark is claimed to have once been an inn. But when the proud and distant descendants begin to tell you in all seriousness that ‘Washington slept here,’ you believe for a certainty in the old saying that the father of our country must have spent his whole lifetime in slumber.”


Wikipedia: George Washington Slept Here
George Washington Slept Here is a 1942 comedy film starring Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan. It was based on the 1940 play of the same name by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, adapted by Everett Freeman, and was directed by William Keighley.

Plot
Bill and Connie Fuller are New Yorkers who purchase a dilapidated farmhouse where, according to rumors, George Washington spent the night.

Google Books
August 1878, Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, vol. 6, pg. 168, col. 2:
“I trust you will rest well in the old-fashioned bed. George Washington slept here, on his way to Cambridge to take command of the army. The pillow on which his blessed head rested should surely be a peaceful one.”

Google News Archive
9 February 1911, Sheffield (PA) Observer, “The Highest Bidder: A Washington Birthday Story” by Clarissa Mackie, pg. 4, col. 1:
“I won’t hear a word against your Uncle Bob’s legacy. Just think of owning and occupying the oldest house in the state! Why, the tradition says George Washington slept here once when it was the best known tavern on the post road.”

Google Books
July 1914, The House Beautiful, “The Wayside Inn” by Joseph S. Seabury, pg. 33, col. 1:
Nearly every historic land-mark is claimed to have once been an inn. But when the proud and distant descendants begin to tell you in all seriousness that “Washington slept here,” you believe for a certainty in the old saying that the father of our country must have spent his whole lifetime in slumber. However, history is one thing and hereditary rumor quite another.

Google Books
December 1922, Scribner’s Magazine, “Marley’s Cove” by Cary Gamble Lowndes, pg. 713:
“President Cleveland was often here. The newspapers were full of his trips to Marley’s—the reporters dogged him, even in the blinds. He wrote his Venezuelan message in the dining-room. That was his bedroom, across the hall.”

“Washington slept here, of course?” I said, looking into another room, on the west side.

Brent laughed.

OCLC WorldCat record
George Washington slept here; a comedy in three acts
Author: Moss Hart; George S Kaufman
Publisher: New York, Random house [©1940]
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Dave Barry slept here
Author: Dave Barry
Publisher: New York : Random House, ©1989.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st ed
Summary: Barry’s humorous account of our country’s history includes the dull parts and discussion questions.

OCLC WorldCat record
Susan B. Anthony slept here : a guide to American women’s landmarks
Author: Lynn Sherr; Jurate Kazickas
Publisher: New York : Times Books, ©1994.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st ed.

OCLC WorldCat record
Robert E. Lee slept here : Civil War inns and destinations, a guide for the discerning traveler
Author: Chuck Lawliss
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, ©1998.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st ed

OCLC WorldCat record
Jim Thorpe never slept here : and other stories from a Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania boyhood
Author: Richard Benyo
Publisher: Scranton : Pennsylvania Heritage Books/University of Scranton Press, ©2008.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Darwin slept here : discovery, adventure, and swimming iguanas in Charles Darwin’s South America
Author: Eric Simons
Publisher: Woodstock, NY : Overlook Press, 2009.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English : 1st edView all editions and formats
Summary: Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of “The Origin of Species, Darwin Slept Here” offers a fresh-eyed and enchanting journey to South America that follows the famous biologist’s footsteps.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • (0) Comments • Tuesday, November 02, 2010 • Permalink