Sunday, May 12, 2013

What's in a name... Why "Big Apple" ?

     If you google “I love big Apple”  you  can see that the set of results is mostly  not about the orchard garden or apple pies.  It is about New York.
 
     The exact origin of this nick name is unknown.  According to  Barri Popik, American etymologist and  an expert on the origins of the terms "Big Apple”, the first time  this name was  popularized as a column header in the newspaper  “New York Morning Telegraph”.  John J. Fitz Gerald, a sports writer ,wrote about horse races . Fitz Gerald named his racing column "Around the Big Apple."  He wrote:  “The Big Apple. The dream of every …and the goal of all horsemen. There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York.”   This name was almost forgotten till the beginning of 1970s.

     Charles Gillett, the president of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau at that time, was responsible for "Big Apple" campaign that revived the nickname.  Gillett worked for the bureau for more than 40 years and was it's president from 1964 until he retired in 1988 and  helped to plan such tourist events as the 100th anniversaries of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.
This campaign played a very important role and it put a brighter image on a city.
      New York Times wrote in   March 27, 1975 "Three years ago the bureau began passing out small Big Apple stickers …. Mr. Rudin, who is chairman of the Association for a Better New York, has given away about 4,000 cloth Big Apple stickers, in the three-quarter-inch version that sells for 10 cents a sticker." 
     "Lew Rudin Way" was dedicated in 2002 for East 52nd Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues. There are apples on both sides of the name on the street sign.

      The southwest corner of West 54th Street and Broadway, the corner on which John J. FitzGerald resided from 1934 to 1963, was  named  "Big Apple Corner." by Rudolph W. Giuliani in 1997.
     Mayor Giuliani, who served as Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001,   said:
"John J. FitzGerald, born in 1893, was a horse-racing writer for The Morning Telegraph in the 1920's and was the first to popularize the term "The Big Apple." While on assignment in New Orleans, FitzGerald overheard African-American stable hands refer to New York City race-courses as "The Big Apple." FitzGerald loved the term so much that he named his racing column "Around The Big Apple." The title to the column became synonymous with the New York City racing scene.
A decade later many jazz musicians began calling the City "The Big Apple" to refer to New York City (especially Harlem) as the jazz capital of the world. Soon the nickname became synonymous with New York City and its cultural diversity. In the early 1970's the name played an important role in reviving New York's tourist economy through a campaign led by the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau. Today the nickname "The Big Apple," which replaced "Fun City," is the international description of our city and is synonymous with the cultural and tourist attractions of New York City
."