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 19, 2015
“Make your mark in New York, and you are a made man”

Mark Twain (the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemons, 1835-1910) reported from New York City for the Daily Alta California, and wrote on May 17, 1867 (published on June 16):

“Make your mark in New York, and you are a made man. With a New York endorsement you may travel the country over, like Ristori, without fear—but without it you are speculating upon a dangerous issue. Our San Francisco Minstrels have made their mark here, most unquestionably. They located themselves boldly in Broadway, right opposite the Metropolitan Hotel, and their very first performance gave them a hold upon the popular favor which has never loosened its grip to this day.”

“Make your mark in New York, and you are a made man” has been a frequently cited statement about New York. “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” is a similar line from the popular song “New York, New York” (1977), with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb.


Wikipedia: Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “The Great American Novel”.

California Digital Newspaper Collection
16 June 1867, Daily Alta California (San Francisco, CA), pg. 1, col. 3:
LETTER FROM “MARK TWAIN.”
[No. 17]
[SPECIAL TRAVELING CORRESPONDENT OF THE ALTA.]
NEW YORK, May 17, 1867.
(Col. 4—ed.)
Make your mark in New York, and you are a made man. With a New York endorsement you may travel the country over, like Ristori, without fear—but without it you are speculating upon a dangerous issue. Our San Francisco Minstrels have made their mark here, most unquestionably. They located themselves boldly in Broadway, right opposite the Metropolitan Hotel, and their very first performance gave them a hold upon the popular favor which has never loosened its grip to this day.

Google Books
Mark Twain Handbook
By Eugene Hudson Long
New York, NY: Hendricks House
1957
Pg. 150:
“Make your mark in New York,” he advised, “and you are a made man.”

Google Books
Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain:
A Biography

By Justin Kaplan
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1966
Pg. 21:
They lay in a still-unmapped area bounded by journalism, humor, entertainment, and popular literature. He was convinced, after only a few months, that he had made the right choice in coming to this city. “Make your mark in New York, and you are a made man,” he reported, with a prophetic pun, to his California readers.

Google Books
The Making of Mark Twain:
A Biography

By John Lauber
New York, NY: American Heritage Press; Boston, MA: Distributed by Houghton Mifflin
1985
Pg. 182:
“Make your mark in New York, and you are a made man. With a New York endorsement you may travel the country over without fear,” he told Alta readers.

Google Books
Mark Twain
By Ron Powers
New York, NY: Free Press
2005
Pg. ?:
He knew this town and what it could do for a fellow with moxie: “Make your mark in New York, and you are a made man,” he instructed his Alta California readers a few weeks later. Frank Sinatra himself could hardly have put it better. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • Thursday, November 19, 2015 • Permalink