Aliens in the Apple

The Big Apple

Ben 24 May 2010 NYC

Why is New York City called The Big Apple?

It’s actually one of those old terms that has a sketchy history. Wikipedia tells me it was first used as a term for New York in 1921 by John J Fitz Gerald in a horce-racing context. He wrote:

J. P. Smith, with Tippity Witchet and others of the L. T. Bauer string, is scheduled to start for “the big apple” to-morrow after a most prosperous Spring campaign at Bowie and Havre de Grace.

And he referred to the “big apple” quite a bit after that, sort of explaining the term in 1924 in a column titled “Around The Big Apple”:

The Big Apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York. Two dusky stable hands were leading a pair of thoroughbred around the “cooling rings” of adjoining stables at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and engaging in desultory conversation. “Where y’all goin’ from here?” queried one. “From here we’re headin’ for The Big Apple,” proudly replied the other. “Well, you’d better fatten up them skinners or all you’ll get from the apple will be the core,” was the quick rejoinder.

The term went out of fashion during the 50’s and 60’s, until in the 1970’s the New York City tourism folks started promoting the term as the city’s official nickname.

So there you go. You can read a bit more in the Wikipedia article. I thought is was kind of a boring history for such a nifty nickname. :-)