Raymond Chandler was born on July 23, 1888. On the 125th anniversary of his birth, we take a look at the origin of his most iconic phrase, "mean streets." Who actually coined it, and who used it in a story first?
By Lars Trodson
The Library of America, on its page about Chandler, writes: "In his first novel, The Big Sleep (1939), the classic private eye finds his full-fledged form as Philip Marlowe: at once tough, independent, brash, disillusioned, and sensitive—and man of weary honor threading his way (in Chandler's phrase) "down these mean streets" among blackmailers, pornographers, and murderers for hire."
In an article published on June 5, 2013 in Los Angeles Magazine titled "The 10 Most Iconic Cop Shows SetIn the Mean Streets of L.A", the author writes: "'Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean...' Raymond Chandler, the patron saint of pulp noir, once wrote."