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 December 06, 2018
Gun City (gun + Fun City)

New York City Mayor John Lindsay, when viewing a crippling transit strike and other troubles at the beginning of his administration in 1966, remarked, “I still think it’s a fun city.” “Fun City” soon became a nickname for New York City, although it was often used derisively.

“Gun City” (gun + Fun City) is another nickname that was used since at least 1967 to describe the violence of “Fun City.” Both “Fun City” and “Gun City” became historical when the “Big Apple” nickname campaign was popularized by the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau in the 1970s.


10 April 1967, Asbury Park (NJ) Evening Press, “Voice of Broadway” by Jack O’Brian, pg. 14, col. 3:
We’d love to say Mollie Casey is wrong when she writes us that New York has become not Fun City but Gun City as she notes the sick wave of church vandalism suddenly causing houses of worship to remain closed and locked after morning services: “I came here 40 years ago, as a girl of 22. New York was a delight just to walk along streets and enjoy the sights. It is sad indeed to think that not even a church is respected today.” But Mollie is right.

26 July 1968, Daily News (New York, NY), “Raid Drugstore, Seize 25 Guns for Sale Without a Rx” by Edwin Ross and Richard Henry, pg. 6, col. 1:
He (Criminal Court Judge William E. Ringel—ed.) said he handled eight new homicide cases in one day in April, and warned that “Fun City is in danger of becoming Gun City.”

Spring 1969, The Hudson Review (New York, NY), “Theatre” by John Simon, pg. 100:
Fun City becomes Gun City; rus in urbe turns into Schuss in urbe.

15 September 1970, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “It Happened Last Night” by Earl Wilson, pg. 10, col. 4:
Veteran actor Sidney Blackmer says he was accosted on 7th Ave. by a streetwalker who, when he waved her away, pulled a knife on him. “We should change Fun City,” he says, “to Gun City.”

Google Books
Double-speak in America
By Mario Pei
New York, NY: Hawthorn Books
1973
Pg. 62:
There is little doubt that all analogical coinages dealing with the deterioration of New York City are of journalistic origin. They include “Times Scare,” “Slime Square,” “Crime Square,” and a “Gun City,” which is obviously based on Mayor Lindsay’s “Fun City.”

7 December 1973, Indianapolis (IN) News, “It’s Time To Find New Name For ‘Fun City’” by Don Maclean, pg. 26, col. 6:
Someone once suggested Gun City, but that’s not quite fair.

19 November 1974, Columbus (NE) Telegram, “It Happened Last Night: Fun City or Gun City?” by Earl Wilson, pg. 25, col. 1:
NEW YORK—Somebody called us not Fun City but Gun City.

Google Books
25 April 1988, New York magazine, “Letters,” pg. 6, col. 2:
Lindsay’s “Fun City” was also gun city.
(...)
Elmer P. Payne
Carle Place, N.Y.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNicknames/Slogans • Thursday, December 06, 2018 • Permalink