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 August 20, 2004
Third Degree
"The thrid degree" was the punishment the police inflicted on a prisoner to procure a confession. It was officially made illegal in the early part of the 1900s.

The third degree is the highest in masonry.

27 June 1894, Woodland (Calif.) Daily Democrat, pg. 4, col. 1:


The Shrewd Catcher of Criminals Had a
Way of Making the Guilty Ones Confess,


...-New York Press

17 April 1895, Newark (Ohio) Daily Advocate, pg. 7, col. 2:

How Superintendent Byrnes of New York
Employed It In a Recent Murder Case.

I wonder how many people know what the "third degree" really is. Columns have been written about it, but I have never yet seen an accurate description of the process of extorting from the criminal a confession on the Byrnes plan. It is simple enough, however. The famous New York superintendent merely organizes modern inquisition in the deep recesses of his retreat at police headquarters and marshals his facts before the criminal.

In the case of Caesar, the negro who was recently arrested in New York for the murder of his mistress, a negro girl, he need first moral suasion, and later an apparition of the murdered girl appeared, from where is a mystery, upon the wall of the room in which Caesar was closeted with Byrnes.

The blood stained carpet was held up before his eyes, The superintendent told him to take hold of it and examine it.

That settled it. Caesar broke down and made a full confession, and the "third degree" was again vindicated. - St. Louis Republic.

A Daughter of the Tenements
by Edward W. Townsend
New York: Lovell, Coryell & Company

Pg. 269:
As he was brought into the Inspector's room Cullen and Tom went out together." I guess we'll have time to walk around a block or two, while the Inspector puts that Chink through the 'third degree!'" the detective remarked.Tom had heard of the police operation known as the (Pg. 270 - ed.) "third degree." but he knew it would be useless

Posted by Barry Popik
Names/Phrases • Friday, August 20, 2004 • Permalink

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