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. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from June 20, 2021
“Big Apple” (Robert S. Gold’s A Jazz Lexicon, 1964)

Robert S. Gold published A Jazz Lexicon (1964), providing historical citations for many terms. A follow-up book was Jazz Talk (1975).

This entry is from A Jazz Lexicon, page 7:

apple, (big), [by analogy with the shape of the world, then by synechdoche ( see 1958 quot. ) ; current since c. 1930] See 1958 quot,; for other, rare meanings, see 1938, 1944 quots. — 1938 Cab Calloway: Hi De Ho, p. 16. apple: the big town, the main stem, Harlem.


Internet Archive
Internet Archive (text file)
A Jazz Lexicon
BY Robert S. Gold
New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf
1964
Pg. 7:
apple, (big), [by analogy with the shape of the world, then
by synechdoche ( see 1958 quot. ) ; current since c. 1930]
See 1958 quot,; for other, rare meanings, see 1938, 1944
quots. — 1938 Cab Calloway: Hi De Ho, p. 16. apple:
the big town, the main stem, Harlem. — 1944 Dan Bur-
ley’s Original Handbook of Harlem Jive
, p. 133, apple:
the earth, the universe, this planet. Any place that’s large.
A big Northern city. — 1946 Really the Blues, p. 165. As
soon as we hit the Big Apple, we’ll ditch the buggy. —
1950 Gutbucket and Gossamer, p. 26. Why should she
stay in the Apple over a July weekend? — 1958 Publica-
tion of the American Dialect Society
, Nov., p. 43.
apple (the): New York City. Derivation obscure, but
dates from the late ‘30’s, when New York was the center of
jazz in America. See also BIG APPLE.
Pg. 18:
big apple, 1. The big town: see s.v. APPLE.
2. [current c. 1937-c. 1939] See quots. — 1937 Life,
9 Aug., p. 22. Copied . . . from Negroes . . . “The Big
Apple” ... a loose-hipped, free-hand combination of
“truckin’ “ and the square dance. — 1937 N.Y. Amsterdam
News
, 4 Sep., p. 12. All the “cats” on the avenue are
“breakin it up” with a new dance they call “The Big
Apple,” a swing square dance. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityThe Big Apple1960s: Fun City • Sunday, June 20, 2021 • Permalink