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 May 15, 2019
Buffalo: City of No Illusions (nickname)

"City of No Illusions” is one of the nicknames of Buffalo, New York. The nickname has been printed on many images.

Michael Morgulis of Great Arrow Graphics (later New Buffalo Graphics) created “Buffalo—City of No Illusions” T-shirts (featuring a buffalo) during the Blizzard of ‘77 (January 28-February 1, 1977). Morgulis meant that Buffalo is what it is—it doesn’t pretend to be any place else. He was inspired for the nickname from a 1967 post-apocalyptic novel, City of Illusions, by Ursula K. Le Guin.


Wikipedia: Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second largest city in the U.S. state of New York and the largest city in Western New York. As of 2017, the population was 258,612. The city is the county seat of Erie County and a major gateway for commerce and travel across the Canada–United States border, forming part of the bi-national Buffalo Niagara Region.
(...)
Nicknames: The Queen City, The City of Good Neighbors, The City of No Illusions, The Nickel City, Queen City of the Lakes, City of Light

Wikipedia: City of Illusions
City of Illusions is a 1967 science fiction novel by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin. It is set on Earth in the distant future, and is part of her Hainish Cycle. City of Illusions lays the foundation for the Hainish cycle which is a fictional world in which the majority of Ursula K. Le Guin’s science fiction novels take place.

NYS Historic Newspapers
5 August 1977, The Spectrum (Buffalo, NY), “La mia bella” (editorial), pg. 4, col. 1:
Summer in Buffalo is fun. A T-shirt circulating among certain people here reads: Buffalo, city of no illusions. What is Buffalo. Buffalo is a state of mind. Yes, so are the illusions. If you are unhappy in this city, the causes of your malaise stem from inside of your head, not from the streets on which you sweat.

NYS Historic Newspapers
17 October 1977, The Spectrum (Buffalo, NY), “Graphic cooperative operates in Buffalo” by Brenda Strayhall, pg. 12, col. 1:
The Great Arrow Graphics Shop is run by Mike Morgulis, his brother Jerry, cousin Ross Reback, and two friends, Willie Echevarria and Michael Levinson.
(...)
The design had a picture of a buffalo against a colorful background with the caption “Buffalo—City of No Illusions.” The response to the shirt was very favorable and shortly thereafter Jerry joined the business.

Google Books
Third Helpings
By Calvin Trillin
New Haven, CT: Ticknor & Fields
1983
Pg. 22:
Buffalo has always had a civic morale problem; one of the T-shirts for sale in town reads “Buffalo: City of No Illusions.”

Google Books
Summer-Fall 1984, New York Folklore (Cooperstown, NY), “Folklore, the Lifeblood of the City” by Phillips Stevens, Jr. pg. 2:
The observer who tarries a while may encounter a T-shirt or greeting card designed by Michael Morgulis of Buffalo Graphics, showing a buffalo looking straight at the viewer, encircled by snowflakes and the slogan, “Buffalo***City of No Illusions.”
Pg. 147:
In 1978 Michael Morgulis, a resident graphic artist, designed a T-shirt that became instantly and lastingly popular among Buffalonians and ex-Buffalonians (the latter tend to remain strongly affiliated). The words “BUFFALO: CITY OF NO ILLUSIONS” and flakes of snow encircle our apparent namesake, a buffalo.

OCLC WorldCat record
Buffalo no illusions
Author: Andrei Codrescu
Publisher: [Washington, D.C.] : National Public Radio, ℗1990.
Edition/Format: Audiobook on Cassette : Cassette recording : English
Notes: Title from label inside cassette container.
Recording of Andrei Codrescu’s piece aired on All Things Considered, December 26, 1990. Piece was published in his 1994 work Zombification as: Buffalo: city of no illusions.
“ATC 901226"--Cassette label.

Buffalo (NY) News
16 August 2009, Buffalo (NY) News, “Who are we?: Queen City, Flour City, Nickel City ... what’s with all the nicknames for Buffalo?” by Anne Neville, pg. F1:
Michael Morgulis, who came up with “The City of No Illusions” in 1977 while designing a logo for the American Studies Program at UB, says the phrase has been popular ever since because it “hits just the right note. It’s sort of an ambiguous statement some people take offense because they think it’s negative, but it really isn’t. It’s like ‘it is what it is,’ or ‘what you see is what you get.’ And it’s funny, too.”
(...)
*"The City of No Illusions.” Michael Morgulis, the graphic designer who operates New Buffalo Graphics, sat down in 1977 with a small group of students and professors from UB’s Department of American Studies to design a logo for the department.

“We knew we needed something catchy,” says Morgulis. “Somebody said, ‘I just read this great novel by Ursula K. LeGuin—‘City of Illusions,” and it could be “Buffalo, city of Illusions!” ‘ and I said, ‘No way! It’s got to be City of NO Illusions!’

“I made about a dozen T-shirts for the program, and all of a sudden people started calling, knocking on the door and it just took off. I’ve been producing it now since 1977.”

4 March 2012, Buffalo (NY) News, “Wearing it on their sleeves: Pride in all things Buffalo prompt several successful T-shirt businesses” by Stephen T. Watson, pg. D1:
Morgulis has been selling shirts with variations on his iconic buffalo logo ever since, first from a storefront on Elmwood Avenue and for the past four years from his studio on Hertel Avenue.

He prints his own shirts for his New Buffalo Graphics company. The most popular shirt remains one carrying a phrase he says he coined—“Buffalo: City of No Illusions.”

“I did that the night of the Blizzard of ‘77, when I was stuck in my studio overnight,” Morgulis said.

20 June 2014, TCA Regional News (Chicago, IL), “Wall Street Journal article shows city no ‘Buffalove’” by Melinda Miller, pg. ?:
That is what artist and designer Michael Morgulis had in mind years ago when he described Buffalo as “The City of No Illusions”—a phrase he came up with for his copyrighted graphic prints and T-shirts.

Contacted Friday at his shop, New Buffalo Graphics World Headquarters, 1417 Hertel Ave., he was surprised to hear the phrase was being used for the tours. No one had contacted him for permission to use it, he said.

More to the point, after hearing about the tour’s focus on urban blight, Morgulis added, “I think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“The phrase is ambiguous on purpose,” he said. “I don’t think illusions are good for any city. It means what you see is what you get, and in Buffalo, it’s kind of great these days.”

7 July 2015, TCA Regional News (Chicago, IL), “Buffalo artist gets some love from Los Angeles” by Colin Dabkowski, pg. ?:
July 07--Veteran Buffalo artist and designer Michael Morgulis—famous among other things for coining the unofficial Buffalo motto “City of No Illusions”—was featured in a Los Angeles Times story today.

The piece, by John M. Gliona, talks about the artist’s fervent commitment to his hometown in good times and bad.

Morgulis was always more than slogans. Trapped in his studio during the epic blizzard of 1977, Morgulis designed the “City of No Illusions” work, based on the 1967 post-apocalyptic novel “City of Illusions” by Ursula K. Le Guin. After photos of actor Brad Pitt wearing the shirt ran in several magazines, sales soared.

Google Books
Local Food Systems in Old Industrial Regions:
Concepts, Spatial Context, and Local Practices

Edited by Neil Reid, Jay D. Gatrell and Paula S. Ross
New York, NY: Routledge
2016
Pg. 14:
Over the course of its rich history, the city of Buffalo has accrued a number of nicknames: Queen City, Nickel City, City of Light, City of Trees, City of No Illusions, and the City of Good Neighbors.

Buffalo (NY) News
Iconic Buffalo designer retires, puts New Buffalo Graphics up for sale
By Samantha Christmann|Published September 17, 2018|Updated September 17, 2018
Artist, designer and printmaker Michael Morgulis was trading in Buffalove before the word was ever coined.

His Buffalo-centric designs have been around since the 1970s, gracing everything from T-shirts to billboards. He dubbed Buffalo “the City of No Illusions” and printed merchandise calling it such while trapped in his studio overnight during the Blizzard of ‘77. He has designed logos and merchandise for such Buffalo institutions as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Lexington Co-op and Shakespeare in Delaware Park.

Twitter
Charles Sickler
@CharlesSickler
Fun Fact Friday . Buffalo is know by many nicknames , City of Light , Queen City , City of Good Neighbors , City of No Illusions and Nickel City to name a few . Where does Nickel City come from ?
9:05 PM - 26 Apr 2019

Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesNew York State • Wednesday, May 15, 2019 • Permalink