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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 14, 2004
Feast of San Gennaro
The Feast of San Gennaro is probably the worst time to visit Little Italy, but nobody asks me. It's been held on Mulberry Street since September 1926 and is one of New York's most established festivals.

The beloved Feast of San Gennaro is an annual celebration of the Patron Saint of Naples. The first Feast in New York City took place on September 19, 1926 when newly arrived immigrants from Naples settled along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of New York City and decided to continue the tradition they had followed in Italy to celebrate the day in 305 A.D. when Saint Gennaro was martyred for the faith.

23 September 1928, New York Times, pg. N6:
Justice Joseph M. Callahan in Supreme Court yesterday issued an injunction against Police Commissioner Warren restraining the police from interfering with the display of a religious statue in a Mulberry Street festival and parade held last night in honor of St. Gennaro, patron saint of Naples.
Thousands crowded Mulberry Street to pay honor to the statue of St. Gennaro on the last night of the festival. The huge silvered statue of the saint was carried on the shoulders of a dozen men, the statue glittering with imitation jewels and festoons of tiny electric lights, preceded by the officers of the society and followed by a band. Notes of various denominations, from $1 to $19, were festooned like a curtain at the feet of the effigy.

Pressing close were many old men and women, former Neapolitans, with bared heads, some carrying huge candles. The mass of people moved with the statue and paused when it halted before a flag-draped balcony, or bandstand.

22 September 1951, New York Times, pg. 19:
The saint-bearers will go barefoot on the city pavement as the devout have gone in San Gennaro processions in Naples for centuries. Behind them, with clasped hands and with lips in fervent prayer, will walk the zie di San Gennaro - the so-called "aunts of San Gennaro." They too will be shoeless.
Eyes smarted from the heavy smoke of frying sausage on the charcoal grills. Commingling odors of peppers, hot dogs, melting ice cream, spun candy, deep-fried zeppola, mulieldele (veal lung and intestines), clams on half-shell, heaps of sweetmeats - bewildered the senses.

Pizza vendors flounced out of tents with enormous trays on their heads, opening gangways with cries of "Hot! Hot!" Spinning roulette wheels, toss games, screeching fortune-teller parrots, excited barking of neighborhood dogs, the hoarse calling of barkers of both sexes - added up to delightful confusion.

Posted by Barry Popik
Food/Drink • Tuesday, December 14, 2004 • Permalink

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