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August 24, 2005
Aw, you could have mentioned my "Big Apple" website! The Society for New York City History's website is an infamous internet hoax, freely admitted by its author. "The Big Apple" was popularized in the 1920s by track writer John J. Fitz Gerald on the New York Morning Telegraph.
Barry Popik
August 23, 2005
This is a great story! I like how you found this sign of the forgotten jazz club.
August 21, 2005
I once read that when American Jazz musicians went abroad to play, let's say, in France, they ended their gig by saying something like: »See you at the Big Apple!« Of course, they meant the Jazz club by the same name in NYC. But people in Europe didn't know the club in NYC, so they thought NYC=Big Apple. That's why that nickname stuck so strongly. I like the nickname because people of the city coined it. Nothing superficial like Blomberg's "The Capital of the World"…
August 21, 2005
Martin, you never cease to amaze me. It's funny how someone can live somewhere and not know something as simple as to how the nick-name of that place came to be. Wow, I love that link that you included and the story it tells. Those damn apple growers really did such a great campaign that I bet most New Yorkers will think that "The Big Apple" has to do with the apples you eat. I have to say though I like the phrase " an apple a day, keeps the doctor away." Of course i am speaking of the apple that you dont eat... wait a minute... nope you can eat those apples also. ;-)


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How New York got its nickname "The Big Apple"

Big Apple Sign on 135th Street in Harlem

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

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