ANSWERS: 4
  • 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. 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 the late 1920s and early 1930s, New York City's jazz musicians began referring to New York City as the "Big Apple." 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 1971 campaign to increase tourism to New York City adopted the Big Apple as an officially recognized reference to New York City. The campaign featured red apples in an effort to lure visitors to New York City. It was hoped that the red apples would serve as a bright and cheery image of New York City, in contrast to the common belief that New York City was dark and dangerous. Since then, New York City has officially been 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.
  • This is by far the most frequently asked question—and the most hotly debated—to reach the New York History Hotline. There are actually several answers (nothing about New York City is simple, after all). All are explained here at: http://www.salwen.com/apple.html
  • This commonly asked question got me wondering, why do we call New York City the Big Apple? While I've seen several apple trees in New York City, I don't particularly recall them as being in notable quantity -- there are certainly more pigeons than apples in New York City, but we don't call New York City the "Big Pigeon." As with anything New York, there are many opinions and contradictions. 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. Popik found that 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 the late 1920s and early 1930s, New York City's jazz musicians began referring to New York City as the "Big Apple." 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 1971 campaign to increase tourism to New York City adopted the Big Apple as an officially recognized reference to New York City. The campaign featured red apples in an effort to lure visitors to New York City. It was hoped that the red apples would serve as a bright and cheery image of New York City, in contrast to the common belief that New York City was dark and dangerous. Since then, New York City has officially been 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. SOURCE http://gonyc.about.com/cs/atozinde1/a/bigapple.htm But I live in NYC and I have an apple tree in my backyard :p
  • The "Big Apple" is a nickname or moniker for New York City used by New Yorkers. Its popularity since the 1970s is due to a promotional campaign by the New York Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Its earlier origins are less clear. One explanation cited by the New-York Historical Society and others is that it was first popularized by John Fitz Gerald, who first used it in his horse racing column in the New York Morning Telegraph in 1921, then further explaining its origins in his February 18, 1924 column. Fitz Gerald credited African-American stable-hands working at horseracing tracks in New Orleans: "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. In the 1920s the New York race tracks were the cream of the crop, so going to the New York races was a big treat, the prize, allegorically a Big Apple. In 1997, as part of an official designation of "Big Apple Corner" in Manhattan, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani summarizes the rest of the story: Eleven years later, many jazz musicians began calling the City "The Big Apple" to refer to New York City (especially Harlem) as the jazz capital of the world. Soon the nickname became synonymous with New York City and its cultural diversity. In the early 1970s the name played an important role in reviving New York's tourist economy through a campaign led by the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau. Today the nickname "The Big Apple," which replaced "Fun City," is the international description of the city and is synonymous with the cultural and tourist attractions of New York City. Therefore, it is only fitting that the southwest corner of West 54th Street and Broadway, the corner on which John J. Fitz Gerald resided from 1934 to 1963, be designated "Big Apple Corner". According to PBS's Broadway: The American Musical miniseries, Walter Winchell used the term "Big Apple" to refer to the New York cultural scene, especially Harlem and Broadway, helping to spread the use of this nickname. A documented earlier use comes from the 1909 book The Wayfarer in New York by Edward S. Martin. He wrote (regarding New York) that the rest of the United States "inclines to think the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap."[1] Etymologists have been unable to trace any influence that this use had on the nickname's popularity. Swing Musician Harry Gibson remembers in his autobiography that the phrase was used in the 1940's specifically in regard to Swing Street, which was a nickname for 52nd Street west of Broadway. If this is true, then Giuliani, in the above dedication ceremony, missed it by two blocks. An apocryphal account comes from Jazz slang: Since many musicians in the 1920's and 1930's often lived a hand-to-mouth existence, music gigs were often called "apples". To play in New York City was considered the "Big Time", and hence called "The Big Apple".

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