FW: (Message from Barry Popik): Flatiron Building "23 skidoo" myth in NY Times, again

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu May 27 15:06:27 UTC 2010

At 9:25 AM -0500 5/27/10, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
>I received the item below from Barry and now share it with ads-l.
>Gerald Cohen
>From: Barry Popik [mailto:bapopik at aol.com]
>Sent: Wed 5/26/2010 11:45 PM
>"23" was a slang term by at least 1899, years before the Flatiron
>Building opened. I documented this many years ago.

The Flatiron was apparently completed in 1902.  The OED entry for
"skidoo" has a cite from 1906 that combines it with "twenty-three"
and does suggest a link to 23rd Street, but not to the purported
winds near the building and their effect on skirts, but rather to the
ferries and depots allowing one to skedaddle from Manhattan via W.
23rd.  Another cite is an American Speech paper in 1929 that alludes
to credit for "23 skidoo" in the popular press to (stop me if you've
heard this) TAD Dorgan.   Barry's website discusses other sources for
"23" meaning, well, "skidoo", quoting an 1899 article on the topic
from the Washington Post.  I like the attribution to Sidney Carton as
the 23rd guillotining victim in (the then popular theatrical version
of) The Tale of Two Cities.  TAD Dorgan is not mentioned--he was
probably too busy drawing cartoons of edible daschhunds...


>"Are said" doesn't get the NY Times off from quoting a
>long-discredited NYC myth. Said by who? People who don't study
>slang? ...
>Barry Popik
>Round Rock, TX
>www.barrypopik.com <http://www.barrypopik.com/>
>A Quirky Building That Has Charmed Its Tenants
>Published: May 25, 2010
>The Flatiron Building's triangular shape, designed by Daniel
>Burnham, and its location at the junction of Broadway and Fifth
>Avenue at 23rd Street, have made it a New York landmark.
>Because of its footprint and location, the Flatiron has problems and
>perks that other buildings do not. The swirling winds generated by
>its shape are said to have inspired the phrase "23 skidoo" - what
>police officers would say as they dispersed the men who gathered
>outside to linger and watch for women's skirts to blow up as they
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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