Good Question: Why is New York Named “The Big Apple?”

Q: Why is New York Named “The Big Apple?”

A: I’m sure we’ve all asked this question at one point in our lives. The answer is quite simple and has nothing to do with the fact that New York is the top apple grower of the United States, after Washington.

This nickname comes from horse racing and was established sometime in the mid-20s. It all started with a newspaper reporter, John J. Fitz Gerald, who enjoyed the tracks and used to spend a big part of his days there. One day, he heard the African-American workers saying that they were heading towards “the big apple” ( a reference to New York) because there was were the race tracks were believed to be financially advantageous. As you can guess, he started including this name into his columns and it actually stuck for a while. He first mentioned this catchphrase on February 18, 1924, in the header: “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.”

Photo source: genius.com
Photo source: genius.com

Of course, there are also informal sources which say that this nickname came from a brothel madam named Eve. Her girls were apparently her biggest assets and were known as her “Big Apples.”

And last, but not least, the merits for making this name last go to the jazz musicians of the 30s. They used to include this nickname into most of their songs in order to sing about their hometown.

Finally, in the 1970s, the city officially adopted the pseudonym of “The Big Apple.” The main reason behind this was to transform a city that had become famous for its crimes and economic crisis into a better option for tourists.

Are you surprised that it worked?

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