A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 19, 2013
New York City is shaped like an apple (1970s)

When ‘Big Apple” was re-popularized by the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau in the 1970s, many ideas about the “Big Apple” origin were put forward. New York (NY) Times columnist William Safire (1929-2009) wrote in 1975:

“An apple is shaped like the world, and by synecdoche, the Big Apple has come to stand for the place where opportunities—and problems—converge. If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.”

It has frequently been stated that New York City (or just Manhattan or just Central Park) looks like an apple when viewed from above. There is no apple-like geographical shape, however, that gave New York City its “Big Apple” nickname.


Google Books
Sci-Tech News
Volumes 29-31
1975
Pg. 32:
THE BIG APPLE
We call New York “The Big Apple,” a Runyonesque phrase lifted from racetrack lingo, meaning “the big time” where the high purses could be won. In the early thirties, the phrase was applied to Harlem by jazz buffs, and a nightclub called “The Big Apple” flourished; a frenetic dance by that name popularized the term nationally. An apple is shaped like the world, and by synecdoche, the Big Apple has come to stand for the place where opportunities—and problems—converge. If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.
WILLIAM SAFIRE
(From the New York Times, May 19, 1975, “The Big Apple In a Big Pickle,”—ed.)

Google Groups: alt.fan.pratchett
[R] The Shape of Ankh-Morpork, spoiler for TT?
Paul J Collins
12/10/00
(...)
Well, New York is called the Big Apple, but it isn’t apple-shaped.

Google Books
Everything But the Kitchen Sink:
Weird Stuff You Didn’t Know About Food

By Frieda Wishinsky and Elizabeth MacLeod
New York, NY: Scholastic
2008
Pg. 39:
Why is New York City called The Big Apple? It’s not shaped like an apple and there aren’t a lot of apples growing there.

Things to Learn
July 2012
Why Is New York Called The Big Apple?
by Amanda
New York City…the “City That Never Sleeps”, or also referred to as, “The Big Apple”. I understand the city that never sleeps nickname, but why “The Big Apple”? New York is not shaped like an apple and from what I know it doesn’t contain any apple orchards…so where did that nickname come from?

B (Being Cool)
If Project :: New York Habit – The Big Apple
january 2, 2013 by b
Do you know why New York is called the ‘Big Apple’?

There are lots of theories, but the one with the most traction is the theory relating to Horse Racing.  Horses were given apples as rewards after races and when they made it through to New York, they had arrived at ‘The Big Apple’. This term was then used by the sports writer, John Fitz Gerald, in relation to New York being a ‘Big Apple’ for horse racing in the 1920s. It was not only the place where the biggest and best races were held, it became every jockey’s dream to get to New York, to take a bite of the ‘Big Apple’.

As a child I thought it was because of the shape of New York, oh the shame, clearly that was not correct.

London’s Biggest Conversation (LBC)
2013
Question
Why is New York called The Big Apple?
Mark, Ilford

Answer
(..)
** Definitive **
Name: Darren, Sevenoaks
Qualification: I own a book
Answer: It’s simply because the shape of New York City from the sky looks like a big apple.
(James O’Brien: I think Darren you’re right, but Angie’s answer probably popularised it.)

Twitter
Frances Altick
‏@francesaltick22
Han-"Why is NY named the Big Apple? Is it cus it’s shaped like an apple?”
Me-"Han u are an embarrassment.”
Han-"What? Just being curiosity.”
5:23 PM - 22 Jul 12

Twitter
sigh
‏@sidrahaha
“why is new york called the big apple it’s shaped more like a pear”
6:15 PM - 19 Dec 13

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityThe Big Apple1970s-present: False Etymologies • Thursday, December 19, 2013 • Permalink