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 March 25, 2005
Charm City (summary)
"Charm City" is an example of a coined city nickname that has stuck. One article below gives a 1975 date, but it's clearly from 1974. Ad man Bill Evans coined it.

"Charm City" has occasionally been associated (falsely) with Baltimore's great H. L. Mencken. Unlike "the Big Apple," there haven't been many other coinage claims -- and not even a "Charm City" whore hoax.

(Time magazine; http://WWW.TIMEARCHIVE.COM)
Chaos in Charm City
Jul. 22, 1974
All over the city, there are signs saying "Smile, you're in Baltimore." Last week the Baltimore Promotion Council launched a campaign to further enhance the city's image by declaring that Baltimore (pop. 900,000) would henceforth be known as "Charm City, U.S.A." The gesture was spectacularly ill-timed. Next day, Baltimore, which was already mired in a ...
726 words

4 August 1974, New York Times, pg. 366 ad:
Let us help plan your visit to Charm City, U.S.A.

Write for our "Charm Kit". Baltimore Promotion Council, Inc. 102 St. Paul St., Dept. A, Baltimore, Maryland 21202.

20 August 1992, Daily Record (Baltimore, MD), pg. 3:
After more than 30 years as the creative force behind Baltimore's biggest, and most colorful advertising agencies, Bill Evans, the man who nicknamed Baltimore "Charm City" is taking down his dart board.

Evans, who is retiring this week as chairman emeritus of Gray Kirk/VanSant, was the point man for a creative team that local advertising executives say brought Baltimore its first national industry recognition.
Evans also gets the credit for coining Baltimore's ersatz nickname, "Charm City." In the late 1970s, before the Inner Harbor, Evans was assigned to help Baltimore polish its image with tourists. With little more than Ft. McHenry to bring people here, that proved to be no easy task, he said.

"Decaying wharfs, rats, hoboes. That was downtown Baltimore. It was pretty bad looking," he recalled.

Evans decided the city could direct visitors to other "Charm City" landmarks - parks, churches, Memorial Stadium - by offering a charm bracelet at a tourist information center.

At each site, visitors could pick up a new charm for their bracelets. The city liked the Charm City moniker, but backed off the bracelet idea. Even though the campaign is long dead, the nickname still sticks.


By John Kelly
Monday, April 12, 2004; Page C11

I 'd like to know how Baltimore got the nickname "Charm City."
Norma Courlang, Silver Spring

"Charm City." It sounds like it's been around forever, doesn't it, since the days of Edgar Allan Poe or H.L. Mencken?

In fact, it's been around only since 1975, when then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer asked some Baltimore ad execs to come up with a snappy moniker for his blighted burg.

We say "blighted" because Balmer had fallen on hard times. This was before Harborplace and the National Aquarium, before "Hairspray" the smash Broadway musical and even before "Hairspray" the cult movie. Baltimore didn't have a lot going for it, remembered Bill Evans, the copywriter who coined the phrase. But what it had, said Evans, was an indefinable little quality called charm.
Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesCharm City, Monumental City (Baltimore nicknames) • (0) Comments • Friday, March 25, 2005 • Permalink