New York City, NY

How New York City Got the Nickname "The Big Apple"

Moon Walker

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New York CityPhoto by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

New York City goes by many nicknames such as "the city that never sleeps" "the great American melting pot" "Gotham" and most popularly "the big apple."

But why is New York called the big apple instead of the big pigeon considering there are more pigeons in New York than apple trees?

Well, it all dates back to the 1920s when a writer for the New York morning telegraph, John Fitzgerald wrote a regular column about New York city's horseraces which he called "Around the Big Apple."

Fitzgerald said he first heard the name "the big apple" from a conversation among two African American jockeys in new Orleans who aspired to race in New York.

He wrote about the conversation in his column as this:

“Two dusky stable hands were leading a pair of thoroughbreds 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.”

From then on the term big apple caught on with jazz musicians in the 1930s who were fond of using the name to reference their hometown in their songs.

However, it wasn't until the 1970s that the name got worldwide recognition. Back then, New York was experiencing high crime rates and economic downturns.

In an effort to revive the image of the city and attract more tourists, ad campaigns were created which referenced the name Big Apple as the official nickname of New York.

The campaign featured red apples that hoped to give a bright and cheery image of the city instead of dark and dangerous.

The campaign was successful and ever since then, new York has been called the Big Apple.

In recognition of Fitzgerald who first used the nickname for the city, Rudi Giuliani, then-mayor of New York, signed legislation naming the corner where Fitzgerald lived "Big Apple Corner".

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Jack is a freelance writer and editor who loves to inspire others with his words and also share interesting stories to the world.

New York City, NY
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