Origins of The Big Apple


The Great New York City Trivia & Fact Book by B. Kim Taylor

"This is where to look for Woody Allen's real name, the date the first sales tax was imposed on the city, which sport was all the rage in 1879, how many names NYC's telephone directory contained in 1880, what Mayor Giuliani's father did for a living, and how the Chunky bar got its name."

  • Barry Popik: See the Museum of the City of New York website

  • Rumor has it that the "Big Apple" is so named because during the depression, many former financiers would travel from their suburban cottages in full suits in order to sell apples on the streets of New York. The rumor goes that several well-to-do families had to make ends-meet by selling apples and the charade became know to many as the "Big Apple" scam of New York. Since apples have always been a big part of the New York economy the name simply stuck and was eventually promoted by local government. --Truth or fiction? The Mediabridge staff is unsure, but it makes a good story.

  • Shelly Warwick: "The story I've always heard as to how New York began to be called the Big Apple is that jazz musicians would refer to getting a job in New York as playing the Big Apple, and the term filtered into the general vocabulary."

  • Paul Bloess: "The term 'Big Apple' was originally used in the 1920s and '30s by jazz musicians as a way of saying, 'There are many apples on the success tree, but when you pick New York City, you pick the Big Apple.'"

  • Aubrey Starr: "'The Big Apple' was the name of a jazz club. Jazz musicians used the name as synonymous with New York City because of the club's popularity. Going to New York invariably meant playing a set at The Big Apple."

  • Christopher Harper: "The club in Harlem, once called "The Big Apple", is now a Pharmacy."

  • Scott Butler: "Accoring to David Ellis's Lonely Planet 'New York City' guide (1st edition, Sept. 1997, p. 11), NYC was named so not because of jazz musicians, but because a writer covering horse races in 1920 (named John FitzGerald) repeated in the 'Morning Telegraph' what stable hands in New Orleans referred to a trip to a NY racecourse as the 'Big Apple', or greatest reward for any thoroughbred. The city government has agreed to this story, and all public tourist literature has been ammended to reflect this."