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 July 21, 2004
Do a Brodie
On July 23, 1886, Steve Brodie jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, survived, and achieved instant fame.

Some books state that this was a hoax and that Brodie never jumped, but David Shulman of Brooklyn has examined the early accounts and is convinced that Brodie really did it. Shulman's research on Brodie has made recent articles in the New York Times and Post.

The Historical Dictionary of American Slang has the following meanings for "Brodie":

. to dive, leap, tumble or fall, usually as "Do a Brodie."
. in boxing, a pretended knockdown.
. in the entertainment industry, an utter failure or flop.
, a spin made by a skidding vehicle (California use),
, a long chance.

The first citation of these (for the first sense) dates from 1899.

Wikipedia: Steve Brodie (bridge jumper)
Steve Brodie (December 25, 1861 – January 31, 1901) was an American from New York City who claimed to have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and survived on July 23, 1886. The resulting publicity from the supposed jump, whose veracity was disputed, gave Brodie publicity, a thriving saloon and a career as an actor.

Brodie's fame persisted long past his death, with Brodie portrayed in films and with the slang terms "taking a Brodie" and "Brodie" entering the language for "taking a chance" and "suicidal leap."
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • Wednesday, July 21, 2004 • Permalink