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 October 13, 2019
Jewish Alps (Washington Heights)

Several area of New York City that had a large Jewish popular were dubbed the “Jewish Alps.” “An apartment house section of Brooklyn known as the ‘Jewish Alps’” was printed in the Truth (Buffalo, NY) on May 24, 1919, but it’s uncertain where this was.

Washington Heights, in Manhattan, was frequently called the ‘Jewish Alps” in the 1920s and 1930s. “While in this city I shall make a tour of the Jewish Alps in the Fort George Section, which one of my opponents has sneeringly alluded to as ‘Kike’s Peak’” was printed in the New Orleans (LA) States on July 5, 1924. “The heights secured by Washington with powder and shot, the heights known locally as ‘the Jewish Alps’” was printed in the book East Side, West Side (1927) by Felix Riesenberg. “He takes her to the Jewish Alps (168th Street), marries her” was printed in Time magazine on February 7, 1927. “Washington Heights in New Yorkese are ‘the Jewish Alps’” was printed in the book New York, City of Cities
(1937) by Hulbert Footner. The “Jewish Alps” term for Washington Heights was seldom used by the 1960s.

Jewish entertainers, in the period of about 1920 to 1970, frequently performed at hotels in the Catskill Mountains in New York that were dubbed the “borscht belt” or “borscht circuit.” This region was also called the “Jewish Alps” or the “Yiddish Alps.”

“Summer is reported to be on its way and, according to Sidney Heller, the resort owners in the Catskills (or Jewish Alps) are coming to town looking for social staffs” was printed in the Daily News (New York, NY) on May 4, 1935. “Sidney Heller, a New York Hebrew, high in theatrical circles, has renamed the Catskill mountains, the JEWISH ALPS” was printed in the Des Moines (IA) Sunday Register on June 16, 1935. It’s uncertain if Sidney Heller was the first to apply “Jewish Alps” to the Catskills.

“The Grossinger Hotel is on the fringe of the Catskills, known as the ‘Yiddish alps’ or the ‘borscht belt’” was printed in Life magazine on January 31, 1938. “The Catskills, sometimes called the Yiddish Alps” was written by Larry King in the Miami (FL) News on June 26, 1970.


Wikipedia: Washington Heights, Manhattan
Washington Heights is a neighborhood in the northern portion of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The area is named for Fort Washington, a fortification constructed at the highest natural point on the island of Manhattan by Continental Army troops during the American Revolutionary War, to defend the area from the British forces. Washington Heights is bordered by Harlem to the south, along 155th Street; Inwood to the north along Dyckman Street or Hillside Avenue; the Hudson River to the west, and the Harlem River and Coogan’s Bluff to the east. As of 2016, it has 200,000 inhabitants.

Wikipedia: Borscht Belt
Borscht Belt, or Jewish Alps, is a nickname for the (now mostly defunct) summer resorts of the Catskill Mountains in parts of Sullivan, Orange, and Ulster counties in New York. Borscht, a soup associated with immigrants from eastern Europe, was a metonym for “Jewish”. These resorts were a popular vacation spot for New York City Jews between the 1920s and the 1970s. Most Borscht Belt resorts hosted traveling Jewish comedians and musicians, and many who later became prominent began their careers there.

The tradition of Borscht Belt entertainment began in the early twentieth century with the indoor and outdoor theaters constructed on a 40-acre (16-hectare) tract in Hunter, New York, by Yiddish theater star Boris Thomashefsky.

Beginning in the 1980s, the growth of air travel made the Catskills less attractive, so many of the resorts eventually closed, although Jewish culture has remained present.
(...)
Some of the Catskill hotels were converted from farms that immigrant Jews had started in the early 1900s. As the area grew, it began to cater specifically to Jews, providing kosher food, synagogues, and other features of Jewish communities, including entertainment. The area became known as “The Jewish Alps”, and the Sullivan County portion as “Solomon County”.

Newspapers.com
24 May 1919, Truth (Buffalo, NY), “Noted in Passing” by The Passenger, pg. 6, col. 1:
A large family of Russians, members of the Clan Kannofksy, who reside in an apartment house section of Brooklyn known as the “Jewish Alps,” have been denied the privilege of taking the “sky” off their name and camouflaging themselves, under he patronymic of Kenyon, by a Supreme Court Judge.

5 July 1924, New Orleans (LA) States, pg. 10, col. 4:
THE FOURTH PARTY CANDIDATE
Col. Davidge Descends on New York and Solves the Traffic Problem
(...)
“While in this city I shall make a tour of the Jewish Alps in the Fort George Section, which one of my opponents has sneeringly alluded to as ‘Kike’s Peak.’”

Google Books
East Side, West Side
By Felix Riesenberg
New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company
1927
Pg. 331:
... and described as Sheba, and they lived up on the heights secured by Washington with powder and shot, the heights known locally as “the Jewish Alps.”

Google Books
7 February 1927, Time (New York, NY), pg, 45, col. 2:
He takes her to the Jewish Alps (168th Street), marries her.

Google Books
Card 13
By Mark Lee Luther and Mrs. Lillian Cummings Ford
Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill Company
1930
Pg. 149:
“Nor your family?”

“I see them when I go to New York. They live on Morningside Heights.”

“First peak of the Jewish Alps, eh? Some rise in the world!”

Newspapers.com
4 May 1935, Daily News (New York, NY), “Mainly About Manhattan” by John Chapman, pg. 26, col. 4:
Summer is reported to be on its way and, according to Sidney Heller, the resort owners in the Catskills (or Jewish Alps) are coming to town looking for social staffs.

Newspapers.com
16 June 1935, Des Moines (IA) Sunday Register, Magazine sec., pg. 3, col. 2:
Hokay! He’ll Pay $5 Extra for Cantor and Jolson
Sidney Heller, a New York Hebrew, high in theatrical circles, has renamed the Catskill mountains, the JEWISH ALPS.

Google Books
New York, City of Cities
By Hulbert Footner
Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott
1937
Pg. 271:
Washington Heights in New Yorkese are “the Jewish Alps.” West End Avenue is a more sedate street than Broadway and lacks interest.

Google Books
31 January 1938, Life (New York, NY), pg. 39:
An early admirer of “Bei Mir” was Mrs. Jeannie Grossinger, of Grossinger Hotel, Ferndale, N.Y. The Grossinger Hotel is on the fringe of the Catskills, known as the “Yiddish alps” or the “borscht belt.”

Newspapers.com
12 March 1938, Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) Star-Phoenix, “Happy Singers,” The Prairie Pals sec., pg. 4, col. 3:
An early admirer of “Bei Mir” was Mrs. Jeannie Grossinger, of Grossinger Hotel, Ferndale, N.Y. The Grossinger Hotel is on the fringe of the Catskills, known as the “Yiddish alps” or the “borscht belt.”

Google Books
Portrait of New York
By Felix Riesenberg and Alexander Alland
New York, NY: Macmillan
1939
Pg. 136:
The older houses along Broadway from the foothills of the Jewish Alps to the ripe woodwork still unburned in wicked Lincoln Arcade, harbor the hardiest cockroaches of the greater city.

Newspapers.com
26 June 1970, Miami (FL) News, “Those were the days (in N.Y.), my friend” by Larry King, pg. 8-C, col. 4:
The Catskills, sometimes called the Yiddish Alps…

Google Books
The Joys of Yinglish
By Leo Calvin Rosten
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
1989
Pg. 83:
The best-known today in “the Jewish Alps” are the Concorde, Kutscher’s, Brown’s, Nevele.

OCLC WorldCat record
The haunted smile : the story of Jewish comedians in America
Author: Lawrence J Epstein
Publisher: New York : Public Affairs, ©2001.
Edition/Format: Print book : Biography : English
Summary:
From vaudeville to the movies to television, the complete--and often hilarious--history of how Jewish comedians transformed American entertainment
Contents:
Introduction : the world of Jewish comedians --
1. The golden door and the velvet curtain, 1890-1930 --
1. The land of hope and tears : comedians and immigrant America --
2. Curtain up and curtain down : the age of Vaudeville --
2. The years of fear, 1930-1950 --
3. Theater of the mind : radio’s finest hour --
4. Laughing in the dark : films --
5. The Jewish Alps : the rise of the Borscht Belt --

Google Books
Traveling Around the World with Mike and Barbara Bivona:
Part One

By Mike Bivona
Lincoln, NE: iUniverse
2013
Pg. 174:
Due to the predominately Jewish population in the summer months, the area was referred to as the Jewish Alps, and Sullivan County was referred to as Solomon County.

Twitter
Andy Wright
@AndyMcCanse
Replying to @SarahKSilverman
@SarahKSilverman Aging a bit like the Yiddish Alps themselves #comingofageinthecatskills
6:41 PM · Jul 8, 2013·Twitter for iPhone

Twitter
G.S. Presslaff
@garyspDC
Replying to @sidrosenberg
Labor Day weekend in the Jewish Alps- fond memories.
Hope you had a wonderful time.
#misstheConcordandGrossinger’s
3:26 PM · Sep 1, 2019·Twitter for iPhone

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNeighborhoods • Sunday, October 13, 2019 • Permalink