Why is New York called the “Big Apple”?

New York City is often known by its very popular nickname – the “Big Apple”. But where did that nickname come from?

New York Big Apple

The nickname was popularized in the 1920s by a newspaper reporter named John Fitz Gerald. He covered horse racing, and once in New Orleans he had heard African-American stable hands using “the Big Apple” when referring to going to New York’s major race tracks. Gerald used the nickname several times in his articles and the name took on a life of its own. A decade later, jazz musicians began to use the term as a reference to New York’s big-time music clubs. In the 1970s, the term was used to show a more pleasant and intriguing side of the city, which was going through economic problems and high crime. You can see the effects to this day with zillions of cups, hats, shirts, and you name it with the “Big Apple” printed on them.

But here’s a fun, fruity fact most people don’t know! Back in 1673, the Dutch—who were the first to purchase the land of New York from local tribes—took over New York from the British during a brief war and quickly renamed it to…New Orange! New York is so unique that it actually has a second nickname: “the city that never sleeps”. This nickname comes as no surprise. New York is full of clubs and entertainment as well as bright signs that light up the night and make it seem that New Yorkers are the only ones in the world who don’t need any shuteye!



  • nickname  – a name that isn’t your legal name, but a name friends or family call you
  • to popularize – to cause something to become popular
  • to cover  (in journalism) – to report on certain topics and/or areas
  • stable hand –  people who work in a stable with and around horses
  • to take on a life of its own – to become larger, important, and/or harder to control
  • big-time – associated with the highest or most successful level of an activity
  • intriguing – extremely interesting
  • zillions – a very large number (non-scientific)
  • you name it – anything you can think of
  • to come as no surprise – to be expected
  • shuteye – sleep

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