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 Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 18, 2004
“On Line” (not “in line")
New Yorkers say "on line" where other Americans say "in line."

The Dictionary of American Regional English, volume III I-O, has this on page 877:

in phr. on line: In line. chiefly NYC, nNJ
(...)
1958 Francis Structure of Amer. Engl. 518, New York City and Hudson Valley...Morphology and Syntax. [H]e lives in King Street...we stood on line.


My gut feeling is that this is from New York's German immigrants. We also say "on the avenue." Perhaps the following (available electronically) is an early example of this type of speech:


http://historical.library.cornell.edu/Dienst/UI/1.0/Display/cul.nys/nys637?abstract=&pages=192

A VAGABOND IN NEW YORK
by Oliver Madox Hueffner
New York: John Lane Company
(Binghamton, NY: The Vail-Ballou Company)
1913

Pg. 192:
You would say "on Third Avenue," by the way, and never "in."
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Names/Phrases • (0) Comments • Saturday, September 18, 2004 • Permalink