The New York Morning Telegraph specialized in horse racing and entertainment. Walter Winchell, Roy McCardell, film men and mobsters all cited below all would have been familiar with John J. Fitz Gerald's "big apples" in the Morning Telegraph.
This citation was found by New Yorker Merwin Dembling. From The Bookman, December 1927, "The Real Broadway" by Walter Winchell:
Broadway is the Big Apple, the Main Stem, the goal of all ambition, the pot of gold at the end of a drab and somewhat colorless rainbow.
Winchell's words are echoed by the popular syndicated columnist O. O. McIntyre, on December 19, 1928, Nevada State Journal, "Once Overs" by O. O. McIntyre, pg. 4, col. 2:
NEW YORK, Dec. 18. - No other human beings are quite so self-centered as the denizens of Broadway. It lives, moves and has its headaches between Columbus Circle and Herald Square. To its fortunate wayfarers it is the Main Stem of the Universe - the Big Apple and the goal of earthly travels.
This citation was found by Yale researcher Fred Shapiro.
Also from The Bookman, February 1928, "Mr. Wogglbaum Cooks an Opera" by Roy L. McCardell:
Pg. 638: But as I dope it, if the head Cheese has been nicked into buying it by them literary yes men on The Big Apple, it could be made the picture panic of the world.
Pg. 639 (GLOSSARY): On the Big Apple + In New York City.
This citation was found by Yale researcher Fred Shapiro and publsihed in American Speech, July 1991. It also appears in the Oxford English Dictionary.
From The New York Times, "Slang of Film Men," March 11, 1928, section VIII, pg. 6:
The big apple, New York City.
I found this citation in an article about racketeer slang. From the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, October 5, 1928, page 40:
"I know! I know! I'm sending yuh a couple of trailers, with tin shirts—gorillas from th' Big Apple. We shoot tonight—or somebody gets taken for a ride!"
..."the Big Apple," New York City...
New York City • The Big Apple • 1920s: John J. Fitz Gerald and the N.Y. Morning Telegraph • Monday, July 05, 2004 • Permalink