Why Is New York City Called the Big Apple?
In 1920s when New York Morning Telegraph sports writer John J. FitzGerald overheard African American stable workers using the phrase while talking about New York’s racing scene, which was considered “the big time.” Fitzgerald liked it so much he named his racing column “Around the Big Apple.”
The nickname “Big Apple” was first given to New York City by jazz musicians in the 1930s. Jazz musicians in the 1930s and 40s made it more popular by using it in the same way, referring to the New York jazz scene as “the big time.”
It implies that New York is the most important place to be. In early jazz slang, an “apple” was a city. Jazz groups toured widely, and there were many apples (cities) in which to perform. But to play in New York was to play in the biggest apple of all, and was a sign of success. The nickname became popular in New York and throughout the world, and is now a symbol of New Yorkers’ civic pride.