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Encyclopedia > The Big Apple
The Big Apple - Manhattan viewed from the World Trade Center

The "Big Apple" is a nickname or alternate toponym for New York City. 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.

The most plausible explanation cited as of 2004 by the New-York Historical Society and others is that it was first popularized by John J. Fitz Gerald, who first used it in his horse racing column in the New York Morning Telegraph in 1921 and explained 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 1997, as part of an official designation of "Big Apple Corner" in Manhattan, Mayor Rudy Giuliani summarizes the rest of the story:

A decade 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 our 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. FitzGerald resided from 1934 to 1963, be designated "Big Apple Corner."

Earlier use

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."

Etymologists have been unable to trace any influence that this use had on the nickname's popularity.

External links

  • Giuliani creates Big Apple Corner (http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/om/html/97/sp082-97.html) from the February 1997 Archives of the Mayor's Press Office
  • The Big Apple (http://www.barrypopik.com/article/3/summary-the-big-apple) from amateur etymologist Barry Popik
  • Straight Dope article (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_382.html) about the subject, with follow-on (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a990917.html)
  • FAQ on the subject (http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/faq.html#apple) from the New York Public Library website
  • Q&A including the subject (http://www.nyhistory.org/nyhsqa.html) from the New-York Historical Society website

  Results from FactBites:
Big Apple Basketball Home (6429 words)
Big Apple Basketball is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization designed to use basketball as a "tool" to assist young people in their athletic, educational, professional and life skill development.
Big Apple Basketball is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.  For more information on how you can contribute and assist BAB in fulfilling its mission of using basketball as a "tool" to assist young people in their educational, athletic, professional, and life skill development, 
Big Apple Basketball is a not-for-profit organization designed to use basketball as a "tool" to assist young people in their athletic, educational, professional and life skill development.
  More results at FactBites »



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