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 April 12, 2015
“Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State Building?” (joke)

New York City’s 102-story Empire State Building opened in 1931 and was the tallest building in the world until 1970. A popular joke is:

Q: Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State Building?
A: Of course. The Empire State Building can’t jump.


“I can jump as high as the Woolworth building.” was cited in 1919. “What animal can jump higher than the Empire State building?” was cited in 1939. “What animal has eyes and can’t see, legs and can’t walk, but can jump as high as the Chrysler Building?” was cited in 1944.

“Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?”—a Thanksgiving riddle version—has been cited in print since at least 2002.


Chronicling America
2 February 1919, Albuquerque (NM) Morning Journal, pg. 2, col. 4:
FROM THE CHESTNUT TREE.
“I can jump as high as the Woolworth building.”

“Aw, go on!”

“I can. The Woolworth building can’t jump at all.”

Chronicling America
22 September 1920, South Bend (IN) News-Times, “Our Lady Riddle,” pg. 20, col. 2:
(Answer to yesterday’s. “What has four legs and can jump as high as the Woolworth building. A dead cat; the Woolworth building can’t jump.)

9 August 1923, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “The Cheerful Idiot,” pg. 10, col. 6:
Judy reports it:

“What is it,” asked the Cheerful Idiot, “that has eyes and cannot see, legs and cannot walk, but can jump as high as the Guardian Building?

And when everybody gave up, he answered: “A tailor’s dummy.”

And of course they objected that while a tailor’s dummy had useless eyes and legs, it could not jump as high as the Guardian Building.

“Yes it can,” answered the C. I. “The Guardian Building can’t jump.”

We heard it when we were a kid, but that was a long time ago.

12 February 1933, Illinois State Journal (Springfield, IL), pt. 2, pg. 5, col. 8:
5. What is it that has two eyes, four legs, cannot walk and can jump as high as the Wrigley building.
--Mary Hillis, Beardstown.
Answer: A dead mule. (The Wrigley building can’t jump).

5 March 1939, Boston (MA) Herald, “Jokes and Riddles,” pg. 6B, col. 4:
Q. What animal can jump higher than the Empire State building?
A. A dog, because the Empire State building can’t jump at all. Sent in by Olga Goyette, Winthrop.

13 August 1939, Boston (MA) Herald, “Letters from Members,” pg. 8B, col. 2:
Why can any man jump higher than the Empire State building? A building can’t jump.
(Sent in by Marie Belander.—ed.)

31 May 1942, Illinois State Journal and Register (Springfield, IL), pg. 8, col. 8:
Riddle: What animal can jump higher than the Empire State building?
Ans.: A dog. The Empire State building can’t jump.
-- Grace Irwin.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
20 April 1944, The Herald Statesman (Yonkers, NY), “Colonel Joe Bush Says,” pg. 5, col. 2:
One for the next quiz party: What animal has eyes and can’t see, legs and can’t walk, but can jump as high as the Chrysler Building? Answer: A wooden horse; it has eyes and can’t see, legs and can’t walk—and the Chrysler Building can’t jump.

Google Books
The Garment Worker: Official Organ of the United Garment Workers of America
Volume 42
1945
Pg. 17:
The boys thought that over, and then the same cowhand growled: “Sure, but you said it could jump as high as the Empire State building.”

“If you boys would just think a moment,” the New Yorker replied, “you’d know the Empire State building can’t jump.”

Google News Archive
25 August 1954, Kentucky New Era (Hopkinsville, KY), “Office Cat,” pg. 4, col. 2:
Listener—Yes. But how does it (a horse—ed.) jump as high as the Empire State Building?
Life of the Party—The Empire State Building can’t jump.

Google Books
Psychology of Reading
By John A. Downing and Che Kan Leong
New York, NY: Macmillan
1982
Pg. 104:
I can jump higher than the Empire State Building.
How come?
The Empire State Building can’t jump!

Google Books
April 1992, Boys’ Life, “Think & Grin,” pg. 81, col. 2:
Woody: My dog Gus can jump higher than the Empire State Building.
Willy: No. he can’t.
Woody: Yes, he can. The Empire State Building can’t jump.
-- Bob Kienzle, Fayetteville, Ark.

Twitter
john job
‏@johnjob16
Q: Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State Building?
A: Of course. The Empire State Building can’t jump.  #justyou
1:18 PM - 6 Apr 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • Sunday, April 12, 2015 • Permalink