Did you ever wonder how New York City got the name, The Big Apple? Or, how it got a bundle of other iconic nicknames? Well, here’s a little background information just to satisfy your curiosity, and to help you nail your next New York City trivia question. Are you ready? Game on!
The Big Apple
Of all the nicknames for New York City, The Big Apple is, by far, the most famous. And it’s the only nickname that has been officially adopted by the city.
But where did the name originate? How did New York get the name The Big Apple? In the 1920s, sports writer, Fitz Gerald, began referring to New York as The Big Apple, in his horse racing articles for the Morning Telegraph newspaper.
But, he actually got the nickname from those in the horse racing trenches. Fitz Gerald often overheard Jockeys, and other track employees, refer to the largest racing prize as “The Big Apple,” and to the horse races in New York as the ultimate experience.
Over time, Fitz Gerald’s phrase caught on. Rising to the top of all the other popular nicknames, The New York Convention and Visitors Bureau officially christened the nickname in the 1970s. And, so, the Big Apple title lives on.
The City That Never Sleeps
Although there are various versions regarding its original use, the clearest documentation is in a 1912 newspaper article that referenced in print, “The City that never sleeps.”
Later, the term was revived by both Liza Minnelli and Frank Sinatra’s in the hit song, “New York, New York.” The famous lyric, “I want to wake up in the city that never sleeps” took this nickname to a whole new level of popularity.
Holy Gotham, Batman! Yes, Gotham is the name for Batman’s New York City. But the nickname actually goes back much further than historic comic book locations.
In 1807, author Washington Irving (who wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle) first referred to New York City as Gotham in several of his published essays. Despite the fact that his use of the nickname was never meant as a compliment, the term Gotham still caught on.
And then there was Batman — whose amazing, and heroic, deeds always took place in the iconic city of Gotham. From Batman comics to a campy television series, to multiple blockbuster Hollywood films, the city of Gotham marches on.
Another Superhero meets New York City. While the original design for Superman’s Metropolis was modeled after the city of Toronto in Canada, its style eventually evolved into a perfect New York City fit.
In 1939, and in Superman comic number 2, it became clear that New York was the obvious location of Metropolis. Narrowing the exact spot even more: it was later noted that Metropolis was actually within close proximity to Gotham City. Apparently, Superheroes like to stick together.
The differences between Gotham and Metropolis are relatively simple. Famous comic writer, Frank Miller, said it best, “Metropolis is New York in the daytime. Gotham City is New York at night.”
A Rose by Any Other Name
No doubt: New York is the greatest city on earth. And even though it carries several historic nicknames, it will forever be best known as The Big Apple.
Whether you live in The Big Apple or are just visiting, be sure to stop by High Bar for drinks, creative small plates, and spectacular views of the New York City skyline. We are located on the rooftop of the Doubletree at 346 West 40th. For reservations, just give us a call at 646.362.7363!