Why Is New York Called the Big Apple?

The nickname “Big Apple” was first popularized in the 1920s by John J. Fitz Gerald, a sports writer for the New York Morning Telegraph.

Checkout this video:

Theories on the Origin of the Term

New York City has been called the Big Apple since the 1920s. There are a few theories on how the city got this nickname. The most popular theory is that it was coined by John J. Fitzgerald, a sportswriter for the New York Morning Telegraph. Fitzgerald used the term in reference to the prizes (or “big apples”) given out at horse races in the 1920s.

The first use of the term in print

The first use of the term “Big Apple” in print was in a 1909 issue of Race Horse, where Edward S. Martin wrote: “There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York.” It wasn’t until the 1920s, however, that the term started to be used more regularly.

One of the earliest known uses of “Big Apple” in reference new york city was in a 1924 column by John J. Fitzgerald in the New York Evening Telegram. In his column, entitled “Around the Big Apple,” Fitzgerald used the term to refer to various New York City racecourses.

It’s unclear how Fitzgerald came to use the term, but it’s possible that he heard it from African American stable hands who used it to refer to New York City’s horse racing scene. The term may also have been used by jazz musicians who were playing in clubs on Manhattan’s 52nd Street, which was nicknamed “Swing Street.”

In 1926, Fitzerald published a book called The Big Apple: The Official Handbook of New York City, which further popularized the use of the term. In his book, Fitzgerald described New York City as “the big apple … the dream city which every American boy plans some day to conquer.”

The racing connection

One popular theory credits John J. Fitzgerald, a reporter for the New York Morning Telegraph, with coining the phrase. Fitzgerald was an avid horse racing fan, and in 1921 he used the term “Big Apple” in a column to refer to New York’s racetracks. The term caught on, and eventually it came to be used as a nickname for the city itself.

The jazz connection

One theory on the origin of the term “Big Apple” is that it was coined by jazz musicians in the 1920s who used the city as a gigging destination. New York was then known as a place where you could make good money playing music, so it became known as the “Big apple.” This theory is supported by an article from The New York Times in 1927, which includes a quote from trumpeter and bandleader Johnny Dunn, who said: “There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York.”

If you’ve ever heard someone refer to New York City as “the Big Apple,” you might have wondered where the nickname came from. The term was popularized in the 1920s by John J. Fitz Gerald, a sports writer for the New York Morning Telegraph. Fitz Gerald used the term in reference to horse racing, and it soon caught on as a way to describe the city.

The Big Apple in literature

New York has been called the Big Apple since the 1920s, but how did this nickname come about? The most likely explanation is that it was coined by a journalist named John J. Fitzgerald in referring to the prize money often awarded at horse racing tracks in and around New York City. Another theory is that it was inspired by the big apples that were often shipped into New York from upstate orchard farms.

Whatever its origins, the term caught on in popular culture and has been used to refer to New York City ever since. It has appeared in countless songs, movies, TV shows and books over the years, cementing its place as one of the most famous nicknames for a city in the world.

The Big Apple in film and television

In popular culture, the term “the Big Apple” has been used as a reference to New York City in a variety of ways, most notably in the 1979 disco hit “The Big Apple” by Walter Murphy and in the 1971 Neil Simon film The Out-of-Towners.

The Big Apple has also been used in a number of television shows and movies set in New York City, including Seinfeld, Taxi, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Ugly Betty, Sex and the City and Spider-Man.

The Big Apple in music

The first musical reference to the Big Apple was in 1925, when fruit-seller James Preston gave New York City the nickname in a song called “The Big Apple”, which he wrote with Fred Fisher. The song was a hit for saxophonist and bandleader Adolf Saxe and his band, The Cotton Pickers, in 1930.

In the early 1930s, jazz musicians began using the term to refer to New York City as a place where they find work. In his memoir Swingin’ the Dream, bandleader Lucky Millinder wrote that after playing a gig in Cleveland, he and his band took a train to New York: “All of us were excited about going to the Big Apple.”

In 1971, singer-songwriter Billy Joel released his album Piano Man, which included the song “New York State of Mind”. In the lyrics, Joel describes his love for the city and how it has helped him through tough times. The song has become an anthem for New Yorkers and has been covered by many artists, including Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, and Alicia Keys.

Scroll to Top