How New York got its nickname "The Big Apple"
Click image for a larger view (and see the "Big Apple" sign better)
I never really asked myself why New York City is also called "The Big Apple". Today I found the answer... At least a possible one.
I went to Harlem and walked around for a couple of hours. I happend to come across the "Uptown Saterday Nite" Festival which is part of the 2005 Harlem Week. Nothing sensational but on the corner of 135th Street and 7th Avenue I noticed this old red building with a sign showing an upside down apple saying "The Big Apple". I took a photograph and went on.
After coming home I did a little research on the internet, looking for this particular sign in Harlem. That's how I found out about the history of this sign and New Yorks nickname.
In the 1920's Jazz musicians picked the term "Big Apple" up from horseracing people who considered New York races and gigs to be where the big money was. Since a horse, up for a big purse in New York City, can't get paid off in big money himself, the lingo promised him a big apple. At this time a night club opened in Harlem called "The Big Apple". Some historians think that New Yorks nickname may have come from this long forgotten club. The club is gone, the sign, with its upside down apple, is still there.
For another theory you may want to read this article from the Society for New York City History.
Posted by Martin Fuchs on August 20, 2005 11:26 PM