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The Big Apple
By Sarah Lane
May 27, 2004, 09:53


Topic: Nicknames

ClassBrain Visitor:

Why do they call New York City the Big Apple?

ClassBrain Response:

If you were to visit the corner of West 54th Street and Broadway in New York City, you’d be at “Big Apple Corner.” That is because the man who coined the phrase, “The Big Apple”, John Fitzgerald, lived there for 30 years.

During the 1920’s, Fitzgerald wrote a horse-racing column for the New York Morning Telegraph called “Around the Big Apple.” In 1924 Fitzgerald wrote that he first heard the term from stable hands in New Orleans who referred to New York racetracks as “The Big Apple”, or the ultimate goal of every horse trainer and jockey in the racing world. “Apple” referred to the prize being awarded for each race.

For a long time the phrase was thought to have originated in the 1930’s by jazz musicians, because of the old saying “There are many apples on the tree of success, but when you pick New York City, you pick the Big Apple.” Everyone wanted to perform in Harlem, the jazz capital of the world. But the above paragraph clearly shows that Fitzgerald used the phrase almost a decade earlier.

A New York slang historian named Barry Popik was bound and determined to convince the New York City Government to officially recognize the sportswriter John Fitzpatrick as the first to use the phrase. He finally succeeded in 1997. Hence the designated “Big Apple Corner.”

In 1971 the term “Big Apple” was adopted as the official advertising slogan of New York City, aimed at encouraging tourists to overlook its doom and gloom reputation in favor of the excitement and allure the city offered. The symbol of a big red apple was used to evoke a cheery image.

Learn more about New York with the help of Google

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