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 November 16, 2008
Felon City; Wicked Sticks; Kliffside (Bacliff nicknames)

Bacliff is an unincorporated town in Galveston County, formerly called Clifton-by-the-Sea. A September 9, 2008 article in the Houston (TX) Press detailed the crime in Bacliff and some of the town’s nicknames: Felon City, The Wicked Sticks and The Kliffside.
The decline of the shrimping industry and the town’s poor housing stock (many of the homesites have questionable titles) have contributed to many of the problems.
Wikipedia: Bacliff, Texas
Bacliff is a census-designated place (CDP) in Galveston County, Texas, United States. The population was 6,962 at the 2000 census. Bacliff was originally called Clifton-by-the-Sea
Bacliff first opened in 1910 as a seaside summer weekend resort called “Clifton-by-the-Sea.” Hurricanes, Galveston’s recovery after the Hurricane of 1900, and rapid transportation diminished Clifton-by-the-Sea’s popularity. Clifton-by-the-Sea had 50 residents and two businesses in 1933 and 100 residents and four businesses from 1940 to 1949. During the late 1940s or early 1950s the community became “Bacliff.”
Cheap housing and the shrimping industry sustained Bacliff, and at that time there was no pollution in the water. “Gator” Miller, publisher of small newspapers such as the monthly magazine Seabreeze and the entertainment magazine Night Moves said that in the 1950s the The Galveston Daily News bought a large parcel of land and awarded free lots to subscribers; people who canceled subscriptions lost their homesites, which were given to other subscribers. Miller said that this resulted in “really fucked-up” titles and a lack of large business; Miller said that a retailer would not wish to buy land in Bacliff and then discover that an individual claimed a title to the land.
In 1961, when the post office opened, both names (“Bacliff” and “Clifton-by-the-Sea”) were still used to refer to the community, which had 1,707 residents and 25 businesses during that year. In 1966 this increased to 1,782 residents and 17 businesses.
By 1986 the town became a bedroom community for workers commuting to Houston; during that year the city had 4,851 residents and 19 businesses. Since the 1980s, when the shrimping industry declined, more affluent residents moved to Dickinson and the unincorporated community of San Leon, while illegal immigrants, sex offenders, and other felons moved to Bacliff.

In 1990 the community had 5,549 residents, 27 businesses, six churches, and one school.
As of 2008 Bacliff has street gangs who are mostly White American. The gangs appeared around the period when the shrimping industry declined in the 1980s. In a 2008 Houston Press article, “Gator” Miller said that many Bacliff gangs commit crimes in Kemah. Jack Nelson, a resident interviewed by the Houston Press, said that recreational drugs such as crack cocaine and methamphetamine, rather than gangs per se, are the origins of Bacliff’s issues. Miller said that, prior to the 2004 election of Precinct 7 Constable Pam Matranga, meth labs operated in Bacliff prior to the popularity of meth labs around the United States since the local constables allowed them to remain.

Pam Matranga said that a nickname given to the city, “Felon City,” is not deserved since outsiders, not longtime Bacliff residents, cause crime in Bacliff. Matranga said that cheap rental prices encourage criminals to settle in Bacliff.

John Nova Lomax of the Houston Press said that, due to economic pressures such as new development and rising housing prices along coastlines, Bacliff residents began to believe that efforts to lower Bacliff’s crime rates would intensity. Miller believes that Bacliff will change only if drastic change such as mass redevelopment would occur.
Houston (TX) Press
Gangsters in Bacliff
The unincorporated town is up to its elbows in youth gangs, poverty and crime

By John Nova Lomax
Published on September 09, 2008 at 11:35am
At the stroke of midnight and into the predawn this past May 20, the little unincorporated Galveston County town of Bacliff was roiling with squadrons of cops of every description, from small-town police to the Department of Public Safety’s Narcotics Service to the FBI and DEA.
Others sent shout-outs to their ‘hood — flashing tats repping “The Wicked Sticks,” which along with “The Kliffside” is another of Bacliff’s many nicknames.
When you travel there, you can see that the Wicked nickname fits — Grand Avenue, the town’s main thoroughfare, is lined with little more than a nonstop succession of beer joints, liquor stores and gambling halls, while the town’s back streets offer up vistas of ramshackle abodes and general deprivation not often seen outside of Appalachia.
“Felon City” is another nickname for Bacliff/San Leon, and to Matranga, it is something of a misnomer. She says that it’s not that the natives of the town are bad people — it’s the people that come in from the outside. “Well, you know, you can come and rent a house down here for $200 a month,” she says. “If I’m just getting out of the pen, that’s where I’m gonna live. You can just kinda blend in and mind your own business, and then there’s the gangs.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Sunday, November 16, 2008 • Permalink

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