“There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York.” John FitzGerald
New York City has been called many things: “The Great American Melting Pot,” “Gotham,” “The City that Never Sleeps” but its most famous nickname, without a doubt, is “The Big Apple”. Why? What connects New York with an apple? New York City is not the shape of an apple and the city does not contain any apple orchards…so where did that nickname come from?
Here are some theories about the origin of this nickname “The Big Apple”!
- In the early 1920s, “apple” was used in reference to the many racing courses in and around New York City. Apple referred to the prizes being awarded for the races as these were important races, the rewards were substantial. Based on the research of Barry Popik, the use of “Big Apple” to refer to New York City became clearer. A writer for the New York Morning Telegraph, John Fitzgerald, referred to New York City’s races “Around the Big Apple.” It is rumored that Fitzgerald got the term from jockeys and trainers in New Orleans who aspired to race on New York City tracks, referring to the “Big Apple.” In recognition of Fitzgerald, the corner of 54th & Broadway, where Fitzgerald lived for 30 years, was renamed “Big Apple Corner” in 1997.
- Rumor has it that the “Big Apple” is so named because during the depression many former financiers would travel from their suburban cottages in full suits in order to sell apples on the streets of New York. Several well-to-do families had to make ends-meet by selling apples and the charade became known to many as the “Big Apple” scam of New York. Since apples have always been a big part of the New York economy, the name simply stuck and was eventually promoted by local government.
- In the late 1920s and early 1930s, “Big Apple” was the name both of a popular night club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem and a jazz band that originated in the South, became a huge phenomenon at Harlem’s great Savoy Ballroom and rapidly spread across the country. An old saying in show business was “There are many apples on the tree, but only one Big Apple.” New York City being the premier place to perform was referred to as the Big Apple.
- A film short called The Big Apple came out in 1938, with an all- Black cast featuring Herbert “Whitey” White’s Lindy Hoppers, Harlem’s top ballroom dancers in the Swing Era.
- The Big Apple nickname appeared during campaign of Charles Gillett, head of the New York Convention & Visitors Bureau to attract tourists to the town. Mayor John Lindsay had dubbed “Fun City” but which had become better-known for its blackouts, strikes, street crime and occasional riots. What could be a more wholesome symbol of renewal than a plump red apple? It was hoped that the red apples would serve as a bright and cheery image of New York City.
Anyway since then, New York City has officially been “The Big Apple”. Truth or fiction? It’s hard to say, but it makes for a good story! Travel with Comfort Tour Canada on our bus tours to New York and leave us your impression about “The Big Apple”!