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 November 14, 2017
Sodom by the Sea (Coney Island)

Coney Island has sometimes been called “Sodom by the Sea,” in reference to the vices of the Biblical city of Sodom. The headline for the New York (NY) Times on October 15, 1893 was:

“McKANE’S SODOM-BY-THE-SEA.”

John Y. McKane was the chief of police and the scandal-ridden “boss” of Coney Island at that time. “McKane’s ‘Sodom-by-the-Sea’” was also in the Times on October 21, 1893.

The term “Sodom” to describe Coney Island probably originated in a church sermon in the 1880s or 1890s.


Wikipedia: Coney Island
Coney Island is a peninsular residential neighborhood, beach, and leisure/entertainment destination on the Coney Island Channel, which is part of the Lower Bay in the southwestern part of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. The site was formerly an outer barrier island but became partially connected to the rest of Long Island by land fill. The residential portion of the peninsula is a community of 60,000 people in its western part, with Sea Gate to its west, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east, the Lower Bay to the south, and Gravesend to the north.

Coney Island is well known as the site of amusement parks and a seaside resort. The attractions reached a historical peak during the first half of the 20th century, declining in popularity after World War II and years of neglect. In recent years, the area has seen the opening of MCU Park stadium which has become home to the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team, as well as the New York Cosmos professional soccer club. In addition, Coney Island has opened a new amusement park among several adjacent ones.

Wikipedia: Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah (/ˈsɒdəm/; /ɡəˈmɔːrə/) were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and in the deuterocanonical books, as well as in the Quran and the hadith.
(...)
Divine judgment by God was passed upon Sodom and Gomorrah and two neighboring cities, which were completely consumed by fire and brimstone. Neighboring Zoar (Bela) was the only city to be spared. In Abrahamic religions, Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonymous with impenitent sin, and their fall with a proverbial manifestation of divine retribution.[Jude 1:7] Sodom and Gomorrah have been used historically and today as metaphors for vice and homosexuality, although a close reading of the text and other Ancient Near Eastern sources suggest that this association may be incorrect.

15 October 1893, New York (NY) Times, pg. 21, col. 1:
McKANE’S SODOM-BY-THE-SEA
THE PRIZE FIGHTERS FAVORED HOME AT CONEY ISLAND.
OUTGROWTH OF TWEEDISM IN BROOKLYN.
Continually Yearning for More Victims Whom It May Make Drunken and Rob.
SCENES THAT SHOCK AND DISGUST.
Raymond de l’Epee, the French Journalist, Investigates and Draws & Vivid but Depressing Picture of the Foul-Smelling Temple Where Money Is Coined by Brutal Encounters for Officials Charged with Enforcing the Law—Its Guard, Ruffians Loaded with Diamonds—Low Resorts on All Sides—The Base and Degraded Antagonists of Brooklyn’s Clergymen and Other High-Minded Citizens Who Are Fighting to Save Their City from Shame.

21 October 1893, New York (NY) Times, “Boycott Put on The Times: Brooklyn Ring Doesn’t Like the Truths It Tells,” pg. 1, col. 7:
The boss of Brooklyn has taken his cue from the boss of Coney Island. In (John Y.—ed,) McKane’s “Sodom-by-the-Sea” the presence and sale of any paper hostile to its rules is semi-officially prohibited.

7 May 1894, New York (NY) Times, pg. 1, col. 1:
NO LONGER SODOM-BY-THE-SEA
CONEY ISLAND MADE RESPECTABLE BY BROOKLYN POLICE.
Ten Thousand Persons Find McKane’s Principality of Crime Changed to an Orderly Pleasure Resort—“Dive” Keepers Close Doors or Give “Sacred Concerts”—No Arrests Yesterday—Inspector McKelvey’s First Day in Charge.

OCLC WorldCat record
Sodom by the sea; an affectionate history of Coney Island.
Author: Oliver Pilat; Jo Ranson
Publisher: Garden City, N.Y., Garden City Pub. Co. [1943, ©1941]
Edition/Format: eBook : Document : English

Google Books
Good Old Coney Island:
A Sentimental Journey Into the Past

By Edo McCullough
New York, NY: Fordham University Press
1957
Pg. 113:
When, in October 1893, the Times brought to bear against him (John Y. McKane—ed.) its strongest guns, their writers (and notably one who signed himself Monsieur de l’Epee) had borrowed from some of Brooklyn’s more indignant preachers the tag they had hung on the Island. They had called it Sodom-by-the-Sea, and the Times broadcast the demeaning nickname. McKane would ever bear the responsibility for that sneer. He had earned it for the insult.

Twitter
Yale Univ Press‏
@yalepress
“Known as Sodom by the Sea or The People’s Paradise, for almost 150 years Coney beckoned with more than sand & surf” http://owl.li/Kve58
9:01 AM - 20 Mar 2015

Twitter
Coney Island USA‏
@coneyislandusa
Sodom By The Sea Salon opens today from 2pm - 4:30pm! Free Admission! https://shar.es/15YDAf
11:06 AM - 7 Nov 2015

Twitter
Christopher Spinelli‏
@ChristoSpinelli
Great opening for @coneyislandusa “Sodom By the Sea Salon” exhibit with the incomparable @DickZigun #art
9:28 AM - 8 Nov 2015 from Coney Island USA - Museum & Freak Show

Twitter
Boxing Trivia Guy‏
@BoxingTriviaGuy
In the late 19th century Coney Island became up a hub for illegal boxing, gambling & drinking earning itself the nickname Sodom by the Sea.
7:06 AM - 3 Dec 2016

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNeighborhoods • Tuesday, November 14, 2017 • Permalink