Mystery Solved: why New York city is called ‘The Big Apple’
A historian has spent three years delving into just how New York City acquired its nickname, The Big Apple.
According to Barry Popik, the name is connected to the horseracing industry almost a century ago.
Popik discovered a newspaper clipping from February in 1924, including a column written by reporter John Fitz Gerald dubbed ‘Around the Big Apple’.
Gerald wrote the sentence, 'The Big Apple, the dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the objective of all horsemen. There is just one Big Apple. That is New York. '
The column, which appeared in the New York Morning Telegraph, credits two men from Louisiana for first coining the term.
He recounts in his memoirs, “Two dusky stable hands were atop a pair of thoroughbreds around the "cooling rings" of adjoining stables in the Fair Grounds in New Orleans...” he wrote.
Gerald stated that one man turned to the other and said, “From here we are headin' for the big apple.” The pair were heading to New York City. The other man replied, “Well you better fatten up them skinners, or all you'll get from the apple will be the core.”
Historians have tracked the date of the dialogue to the 1920s, but no one has since been able to determine the identities of the two men.
At the time, circus acts at the ‘big top’ promising the ‘big time’ were all the rage, and because New York State was a hub of the Apple-growing business, meant that the city become known as the ‘Land of the Big Red Apple’.
Popik – who also co-authored a revised edition of the book, A biography of New York City's Nickname: The Big Apple in 2011 - notes that the Big Apple was frequently used from then on to imply it was something desirable.