Use of hyphen in "New-York"

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue Feb 23 22:56:58 UTC 2010

The New-York Daily Tribune was first published in 1841; the N-Y D Times in 1851; on the other hand, the New York Herald began in the mid-1830s.  I dare say that the Herald was sending the hyphen-less message that it was modern and edgy, while the Tribune and Times was showing themselves to be solid and respectable.

What speculation explains the hyphen in the Whip eludes me:
        The Whip and Satirist of New-York and Brooklyn.  A Weekly Journal, devoted to the Sports of the Turf, the Ring, Doings about Town, Awful Developments, Dreadful Accidents and Unexpected Exposures, the whole of which will be detailed with the utmost Horror, Satire, Sagacity, Humor, Experience and Fun, necessary for the proper treatment of those important subjects.
        The Whip and Satirist of New-York and Brooklyn, December 25, 1841, p. 1, col. 1  This was a review of the brothels; you've met it before.

It wasn't just New-York; there was also New-Haven, and New-Brighton (on Staten-Island), &c.
        ƒ¶ Citizens of New-York whose business or wealth will enable them to live quietly, cleanly and comfortably away from the smoke and dust and noise of the ¡§great Babel,¡¨ will do well to look at the extensive property offered for sale by the New-Brighton Association.  The beauty and convenience of the location for a suburban residence are already well known. . . .  [calls attention to their ad]
        New-York Tribune, August 14, 1841, p. 2, col. 2
        "The Original Confidence Man -- His Identification by a New-York Officer.  [headline]  William Stokely, one of the Independent Police of Wall-st., New-York, visited the Jail in this city [Albany], yesterday, in company with Officer Wemple.  His attention was not drawn to the cell in which Samuel Willis is confined, but upon reaching it, and obtaining a view of the inmate, he turned toward Mr. Wemple, and pointing to the cell, said:  "Here is No. 1, the Original Confidence Man.  I arrested him the first time in New-York, and afterward in New-Orleans.   [note "N-O"]
        N-Y Daily Tribune, May 7, 1855, p. 7, col. 5, reprinting a story from the Albany Evening Journal of May 5

I've been reading 19th C NYC newspapers and making notes for no doubt 15 years.  Now, and for some time, I have been finicky about such little details as N-Y or NY.  So my notes show that the Times, at least, was still using N-Y in headlines and news-stories into the 1880s.

        SLUMMING IN THIS TOWN.  A FASHIONABLE LONDON MANIA REACHES NEW-YORK.  SLUMMING PARTIES TO BE THE RAGE THIS WINTER ¡V GOOD DISTRICTS TO VISIT ¡V MRS. LANGTRY AS A SLUMMER.  ¡§Slumming,¡¨ the latest fashionable idiosyncrasy in London ¡V i. e. the visiting of the slums of the great city by the parties of ladies and gentlemen for sightseeing ¡V is mildly practiced here by our foreign visitors by a tour of the Bowery, winding up with a visit to an opium joint or Harry Hill¡¦s.  ***
        N-Y Times, September 14, 1884, p. 4, col. ?

        The New-York reserves and the Gorham Club of colored men will play at the Polo Grounds this afternoon.  (Play baseball, that is)
        N-Y Times, July 11, 1888, p. 2, col. ?

My notes seem to show hyphenless NYs in news-stories from the 1820s and earlier, but I'm not sure that I was in a finicking mode in the first few years of this foll -- I mean, this project.  I don't put the same faith in the absence of a hyphen as I do in its presence.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>
Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 3:06 pm
Subject: Use of hyphen in "New-York"

> An acquaintance became interested in the history of the use of
> a hyphen in "New-York"--when it started, when it stopped, etc.
> Does anyone have any insight into this? I see from the title
> pages that the _New-York Times_ dropped its hyphen in the
> issue of 1 December 1896, and I know that the New-York
> Historical Society still renders its name thus, but that's
> about all I know about the subject; I don't do much
> onomastics.
> Thanks.
> Jesse Sheidlower
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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