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 January 29, 2019
“Everybody ought to have a Lower East Side in their life”

American composer and lyricist Irving Berlin (1888-1989) grew up in extreme poverty in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. However, he enjoyed many friendships and the cultural richness that the Lower East Side gave him in those early years.

Vogue magazine printed this quotation in a November 1962 profile of Irving Berlin:

“Last summer on a photographic tour of his old places he (Irving Berlin—ed.) told Henri Cartier-Bresson: ‘Everybody ought to have a Lower East Side in their life.’”

“Everybody ought to have a Lower East Side in their life” has been frequently cited in books and articles about New York City.


Wikipedia: Irving Berlin
Irving Berlin (born Israel Beilin (Russian: Израиль Моисеевич Бейлин) May 23 [O.S. May 11] 1888 – September 22, 1989) was an American composer and lyricist, widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history. His music forms a great part of the Great American Songbook. Born in Imperial Russia, Berlin arrived in the United States at the age of five. He published his first song, “Marie from Sunny Italy”, in 1907, receiving 33 cents for the publishing rights, and had his first major international hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” in 1911. He also was an owner of the Music Box Theatre on Broadway. It is commonly believed that Berlin could not read sheet music, and was such a limited piano player that he could only play in the key of F-sharp unless using his custom piano equipped with a transposing lever.
(...) (Photo caption—ed.)
Lower East Side in 1909. He said he never forgot his childhood years when he slept under tenement steps, ate scraps, wore secondhand clothes and sold newspapers. “Every man should have a Lower East Side in his life,” said Berlin.

November 1962, Vogue (New York, NY), “IRVING BERLIN: Key man in the making of ‘Mr. President,’ the new semi-political musical. Here, four pages photographed especially for Vogue by Henri Cartier-Bresson, pg. 146, col. 1:
Last summer on a photographic tour of his old places he told Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Everybody ought to have a Lower East Side in their life.”

Google Books
Celebrity Register:
An Irreverent Compendium of American Quotable Notables (Vol. 2)

By Cleveland Amory and Earl Blackwell
New York, NY: Harper & Row
1963
Pg. 51:
Born Isadore Baline in Temum, Russia, 11 May 1888. He was four years old when his family came to the U.S. and settled on New York’s Lower East Side. (“Everybody ought to have a Lower East Side in their life.")

Google Books
Irving Berlin:
A Life in Song

By Philip Furia
New York, NY: Schirmer Books
1998
Pg. 8:
Irving Berlin, however, refused to sensationalize the conditions under which he grew up, saying “Everyone should have a Lower East Side in their lives” and insisting he was happy as a child who knew nothing else besides poverty:

“I never felt poverty because I’d never known anything else.”

Google Books
The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited:
A History and Guide to a Legendary New York Neighborhood

By Joyce Mendelsohn
New York, NY: Columbia University Press
2009
Pg. 73:
Looking back on his early years, he once remarked, “Everyone should have a Lower East Side in their lives.”

Twitter
New Yorker Beer
@NewYorkerBeer
“Everybody ought to have a Lower East Side in their life” - Irving Berlin
#newyorkerbeer #famousquotes #dailyquotes #mondaymotivation
4:05 AM - 31 Jul 2017

Twitter
Christa Avampato 🌃 📚 🐶
@christanyc
“Everybody ought to have a lower East Side in their life."~Irving Berlin
At @caveatnyc on Thurs, Feb7 @ 7pm, @DanielAbse will tell us about the characters that made the Bowery home. Figments of his imagination or fact? Find out at NYC’s Secrets&Lies! Tix: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-york-citys-secrets-and-lies-what-lies-beneath-tickets-54268488510?aff=erelexpmlt
9:44 AM - 24 Jan 2019

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNeighborhoods • Tuesday, January 29, 2019 • Permalink