Pier N brawl

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jun 4 22:16:33 UTC 2012

There were many Pier Sixes in NYC over time, and all of them were potential
locations for a brawl.

I know about this because I work for a non-profit based on a repurposed oil
tanker at Pier 9B in Brooklyn.

Even if you are just talking about Manhattan, you have to know whether you
are talking about the North River (the name used by mariners for the
Hudson) or the East River.


On Mon, Jun 4, 2012 at 1:32 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Pier N brawl
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 6/4/2012 12:11 PM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
> >Thanks for your response, Joel. I think we probably agree. The
> >author's comment about a "Pier Six brawl in tennis" was meant to be a
> >joke. He was not saying that the phrase had actually been applied in
> >that domain.
> >
> >The writer was implicitly providing an etymology for "Pier Six brawl".
> >He was suggesting that "Pier Six" referred to a pier in Staten Island.
> >The early references starting in 1926 were in the boxing domain. The
> >writer probably had heard the term "Pier Six brawl" used in the boxing
> >domain.
> >
> >Here is one hypothesis: Perhaps "Pier Six" in Staten Island was known
> >as a dangerous and sometimes lawless area where brawls might occur
> >with regularity.
> As someone who grew up in NYC, I would never have associated a "Pier
> <n> brawl" with Staten Island -- that was the peaceable country.  I
> would have thought Manhattan, probably the Hudson side where I knew
> the piers were numbered.  But what did I know, especially about the
> East Side, as a lad.
> >The brawls would not follow the Marquess of
> >Queensberry Rules. At some point a sports writer referred to a tough
> >boxing match as a "Pier Six brawl" and the term became popular.
> Apparently I didn't know -- a Manhattan pier list of today
> http://www.easysurf.cc/pierlst.htm is intriguing -- Piers 1 to 19 are
> on the East River, Piers 25 to 99 on the Hudson!  I wonder how long
> that's been true.  Ah, the genteel Lower East Side.  A transference
> from the pier to the ring seems plausible.
> >Below is a letter that was written to the Boston Globe in 1895 about
> >"Pier T" in Boston.
> As the text from the Boston Globe indicates, it is not "Pier T" but
> the "T Wharf".  It dates back to the 18th century (I'm guessing the
> 1750s), when a wharf in the shape of a T was constructed near the
> middle of Long Wharf on its north side. (Long Wharf was built
> 1710-1721).  It was originally called "Minot's T".  See the 1768
> engraving by Paul Revere at
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Boston_1768.jpg or the 1775 map at
> http://www.his.jrshelby.com/btp/ labeling it "Minots T".
> Joel
> >This article was not about Pier Six in New York. I
> >am posting this article because I think it illustrates stereotypes
> >about the lawlessness associated with piers in urban areas. The
> >article contained the phrase "disturbance or brawl on this pier". The
> >letter writer was a police officer who was actually denying that Pier
> >T was a dangerous area.
> >
> >Cite: 1895 February 24, Boston Globe, Quiet and Orderly, Page 16,
> >Boston Massachusetts. (ProQuest)
> >
> >[Begin excerpt]
> >
> >"Special" on T Wharf Calls Attention to the Good Police Service.
> >
> >Being a constant reader and admirer of The Globe,  I  hope you will
> >make space in your paper for the following statement in answer to the
> >writer in The Globe Thursday evening, Feb 21, concerning Capt Phinney
> >of the schooner Harvester, which laid at this dock.
> >
> >I want to say particularly that the information your correspondent
> >received relative to T wharf and its surroundings is entirely untrue.
> >
> >The facts are these:  I have been a special officer on this wharf for
> >the past  11  years, being  employed  by the T wharf corporation, and
> >I  can positively state that there are no treacherous men, thieves or
> >murderers who linger around here nights, nor has there been one on any
> >night for the past 11 years, making a business of attacking and
> >robbing sailors as they are bound for their vessels, and this wharf is
> >not lonely and unguarded. ...
> >
> >In case of any disturbance or brawl on this pier, or on board of any
> >of the vessels docked here, I need only rap on the gate fronting the
> >avenue and in five minutes there are two or more police officers on
> >the grounds.
> >
> >[End excerpt]
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list