The nickname “Big Apple” for New York City has become a recognizable part of the city’s culture and history and is used by locals and visitors alike. But the origins of the term are unclear.
And there are many theories as to how it came to represent the city.
by David Stone
History of the Term
The first known use of the term “Big Apple” in reference to New York City dates back to the 1920s. At that time, the term was used primarily in reference to horse racing. New York City was the “biggest apple” in terms of racing and gambling opportunities.
The term was popularized by John J. Fitz Gerald, a sports writer for the New York Morning Telegraph, who used it to describe racing in New York City.
Over time, the term became more closely associated with the city itself. Its use spread beyond the horse racing community. By the 1930s and 1940s, jazz musicians referred to New York City – the Big Apple – as a center of music.
Today, the term is synonymous with the city itself and is used in everything from its size and diversity to its unique character and spirit.
Analysis of Big Apple Theories
There are several other theories as to how the term “Big Apple” came to represent New York City. One theory suggests that the term once referred to the city’s apple orchards in the 19th century, some of the largest in the country at the time.
But there is no direct evidence for this theory. It’s more likely that the term became associated with the city through horse racing and jazz culture.
Another theory suggests that the term derived from a popular dance called the “Big Apple,” which originated in the South in the 1930s but became popular in New York City.
That’s supported by the fact that jazz musicians used the term in reference to the city’s music scene. But it’s a stretch.
The nickname “Big Apple” for New York City has a long history, and its origins can be traced back to the city’s racing and jazz cultures. While there are several theories as to how the term came to represent the city, it’s become an integral part of its identity and remains a recognizable symbol of the city today.