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 07, 2014
“So far, so good!” (Empire State Building jumper joke)

A joke is told about the “optimist” who fell or jumped off New York City’s Empire State Building. As he was falling many floors, someone asked, “How’s it going?” He responded:

“So far, so good!”

The joke pre-dates the Empire State Building (opened in 1931). “Turkey, ordering a new war-ship without paying what is due on past contracts, recalls the optimism of the slater who, falling from a tower, remarked as he passed each story, ‘All’s well so far’” was printed in The Youth’s Companion (Boston, MA) on May 30, 1901. “I (Commander Booth-Tucker of the Salvation Army—ed.) am reminded of the man who fell from the roof of a New York skyscraper. He was heard to remark as he passed each floor: ‘All right so far.’ What he remarked when he struck the cobblestone pavement was not reported” was printed in the Kansas Agitator (Garnett, KS) on September 25, 1903.

“The man who fell off the roof of the Railway Exchange Building, and who was heard to remark, as he passed the seventh floor on his way down, ‘So far, so good,’ was an optimist” was cited in print in 1924. “The man who jumped from the top of the Empire State Building said, as he passed the sixtieth story, ‘Well, everything’s all right up till now’” was cited in 1936.

[This entry includes subsequent research by the Quote Investigator.]


Wikipedia: Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is a 103-story skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. It has a roof height of 1,250 feet (380 m), and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454 feet (443 m) high. Its name is derived from the nickname for New York, the Empire State. It stood as the world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years, from its completion in early 1931 until the topping out of the original World Trade Center’s North Tower in late 1970. Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Empire State Building was again the tallest building in New York (although it was no longer the tallest in the US or the world), until One World Trade Center reached a greater height on April 30, 2012.

Google Books
30 May 1901, The Youth’s Companion (Boston, MA), pg. 282, col. 1:
CURRENT TOPICS.
Turkey, ordering a new war-ship without paying what is due on past contracts, recalls the optimism of the slater who, falling from a tower, remarked as he passed each story, “All’s well so far.”

Chronicling America
25 September 1903, Kansas Agitator (Garnett, KS), “Co-operation,” pg. 1, col. 2:
“I am reminded of the man who fell from the roof of a New York skyscraper. He was heard to remark as he passed each floor: ‘All right so far.’ What he remarked when he struck the cobblestone pavement was not reported.”
(Spoken by Commander Booth-Tucker of the Salvation Army.—ed.)

19 October 1903, The Sun (Baltimore, MD), “‘Soup, Soap, Salvation,’” pg. 12, col. 4:
(General Booth-Tucker, Commander-in-Chief of the Salvation Army.—ed.)
“I have been called an optimist, and I plead guilty to the charge, but I am not such an optimist as the man who fell from the roof of a 10-story building. As he passed the eighth story he called out: ‘I’m all right so far!’ As he passed the fifth story he cried out again: ‘I’m all right so far!’ and as he flew past the second story the same cheerful cry was heard. Then he landed headfirst and hadn’t a word more to say. I’m not like that man. I’m willing to say: ‘I’m all right so far!’ but I want a net to fall in.”

19 May 1904, San Francisco (CA) Chronicle, “Convention Opens Cheering Roosevelt,” pg. 2, col. 2:
“But the statement of Mr. Hayes reminds me of the optimist who fell from the roof of a thirteen-story skyscraper, and as he sped past each row of windows he called out: ‘All’s well so far.’”

23 October 1908, The Globe (Toronto, ON), “The Full-Fed Philosopher,” pg. 1, col. 7:
This reminds me of the optimist who fell from the top of a twenty-story building.

As he was passing the fifth story on his downward flight he was heard to murmur:

“I’m all right so far.”

26 April 1910, The Morning Mission and Riverside Enterprise (Riverside, CA), “School Superintendents of California Meet in Annual Session at Glenwood Inn,” pg. 1, col. 6:
He told a story about an optimist who fell out of a six story window, and as he passed the third story in his fall called out ‘All right so far,’ stating that the optimist is all right till he meets with sudden disaster.

28 July 1911, Minneapolis (MN) Morning Tribune, “Heard in the Lobbies,” pg,. 9, col. 5:
“I am as optimistic about North Dakota these days as that true optimist who fell out of a tenth story window. As he passed the fifth floor, where a crowd of horrified men watched him, he cried, ‘All right so far, boys.’”

23 January 1914, Santa Ana (CA) Daily Register, “From California to Kansas in a Five Passenger Ford,” pg. 9, col. 3:
... like the

“Optimist who fell ten stories,
And at each window bar,
He shouts to his friends:
‘All right so far.’”

Google Books
Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association,
Volume 21
1924
Pg. 186:
What, we may ask, is an optimist? The man who fell off the roof of the Railway Exchange Building, and who was heard to remark, as he passed the seventh floor on his way down, “So far, so good,” was an optimist.

Google Books
Mutiny:
An Adventure Story

By Frederick R. Bechdolt
New York, NY: Chelsea House
1927
Pg. 35:
“I heard a story once,” he said with husky attempt at levity, “the optimist — falling from the top of a skyscraper, you know. A man in a fourth-floor window heard him saying as he went down: ‘Well! So far, so good.’ That’s us. So far, so good!

22 February 1936, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, “It Seems to Me” by Heywood Broun, pg. 4, col. 7:
The man who jumped from the top of the Empire State Building said, as he passed the sixtieth story, “Well, everything’s all right up till now.”

31 March 1948, New Castle (PA) News, pg. 4, col. 1:
If this is inflation, at least we are carrying on after a fashion. As the character said, while passing the twentieth story in the forty-story fall, “So far, so good.”

Google Books
Thank God for My Heart Attack
By Charles Yale Harrison
New York, NY: Henry Holt
1949
Pg. 24:
I once heard an optimist described as a man who jumped from the top of the Empire State Building, and as he passed the windows of the sixtieth floor, said: “So far, so good.”

25 July 1952, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “It Happened Last Night” by Earl Wilson, pg. 24, col. 5:
Occasionally, he (Adlai Stevenson—ed.) said he’s an optimist, like the fellow who jumped off the skyscraper and yelled as he passed the twentieth floor: “So far, so good.”

30 June 1956, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), “TV Gag Bag,” sec. 2, pg. 5, col. 7:
Henry Morgan knows an optimist. He fell off the Empire State Building. As he fell past the 12th floor, he observed; “Well, so far, so good.”

Google Books
Horse Under Water
By Len Deighton
New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
1963
Pg. 200:
Oh, I know that you have a thousand reasons for not slipping up, but remember that the man who fell off the Empire State Building said to a resident on the first floor as he fell past him, “So far so good.”

Google Books
Ultimate Sports:
Short Stories by Outstanding Writers for Young Adults

By Donald R. Gallo
New York, NY: Laurel-Leaf Books
1997, ©1995
Pg. 310:
“What did the moron say when he jumped off the Empire State Building?” Vicik was laughing so hard he could hardly get out the punch line. “He’s falling, and someone says, How’s it going? And the moron says, So far so good.”

Google Books
More One Liners, Jokes and Gags
By Grant Tucker
London: The Robson Press
2013
Pg. ?:
An optimist is someone who falls off the Empire State Building, and after fifty floors says,’So far so good!’

Twitter
Epic Jokes !
‏@EpicJokesApp
An optimist is someone who falls off the Empire State Building, and after 50 floors says, ‘So far so good!’
3:12 AM - 3 Jul 2014

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • Monday, July 07, 2014 • Permalink