"It's not spiders I dislike, just people." -Petra
Question #27672 posted on 08/07/2002 midnight
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Why is New York called "The Big Apple"?

Thanks,

Swingin' Door Suzy

A: Dear Suzy,

The origins of "Big Apple" are not quite as exciting as the city it describes. In the 1909 book The Wayfarer in New York, edited by Edward S. Martin, Martin described New York via metaphor: " New York [was] merely one of the fruits of that great tree whose roots go down in the Mississippi Valley, and whose branches spread from one ocean to the other...[But] the big apple [New York] gets a disproportionate share of the national sap." In the 1920s New York Morning Telegraph sportswriter John J. Fitz Gerald picked up on the phrase from black stable hands in New Orleans and used it in the title of his racing column: "Around the Big Apple." Fitz Gerald wrote, "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."

Jazz musicians used the phrase in the 20s and 30s but it pretty much fell out of favor until the 60s, when it was resurrected by the New York Convention and Visitor's Bureau in their ad campaigns.

For more information on this and other random NYC facts and histories, check out the Museum of the City of New York's FAQs at http://www.mcny.org/quest.htm.

-Bob the Tomato