4. How New York City Earned Its Nickname “The Big Apple”

The popularization of “The Big Apple,” is credited to John J. Fitz Gerald, a 1920’s journalist and sports writer for the NY Morning Telegraph. For several years in the ’20s and ’30s, Fitz Gerald wrote a horse racing column for the Morning Telegraph entitled “Around the Big Apple.”

Fitz Gerald’s inspiration for the name, however, is the result of what’s most likely years of subconscious connections. References to horses eating apples appear in various cartoons and short stories dating back to as early as 1892. This history is then also combined with the pre-1920’s popular usage of phrases such as  “Bet a Big Apple” and “Big Apples are top of the Barrel,” and NY Morning Telegraph’s use of “Big Time” — which was a popular reference for the most prestigious and highest achieving levels of entertainment during the early 1900’s.

The combination of all these influences is first revealed in Fitz Gerald’s 1924 column. Just below the column header, this short quote was published: “The Big Apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York.” Read more here.