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 Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from July 05, 2004
Big Apple Timeline
1885: From the MAIL AND EXPRESS (NY), 26 September 1885, pg. 5, col. 4: (Big Apple drawing—ed.)This is an apple, large and round.At the top of the barrel always found.(Small Apple drawing—ed.)This is an apple, small and mean.Always at the bottom seen.—Bridgewater Independent.

1892: John J. Fitz Gerald is born in Saratoga, New York, on March 7th. He has two brothers: Christopher (who would work for the New York Yankees) and James (a sportswriter for the Washington Post who would hire Baseball Hall of Fame sportswriter Shirley Povich)

1897: 31 August, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, pg. 2, cols. 3-5 (appledrawing)—THE BIG APPLE OF '97. (...) ...the Ozark orchards of Missouri—"the land of the Big Red Apple."

1897: 3 September, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, pg. 8, cols. 2-4 (appledrawing)—THE BIG APPLE OF MISSOURI.

1909: Edward Martin's "big apple." (See FALSE ETYMOLOGIES.)

1921: On May 3, "the big apple" is mentioned in a column by John J. Fitz Gerald in the New York Morning Telegraph.

1924: On February 18, the column "Around the Big Apple" by John J. Fitz Gerald appears in the New York Morning Telegraph. "The Big Apple" is explained for the first time.

1926: In a John J. Fitz Gerald column in the New York Morning Telegraph of December 1, "the Big Apple" is explained a second time.

1928: The New York Morning Telegraph featured a column titled "On the Big Apple."

1934: The Big Apple night club opens at the northwest corner of West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. (See page one photo.) Harlemites begin to use "Big Apple" and "Apple" in their slang.

1936: A "Big Apple" club opens in Columbia, South Carolina. Black club patrons originate a dance soon to be called "The Big Apple." White students from the University of South Carolina observe the dance.

1937: The Big Apple dance becomes a national craze. Several Big Apple songs are recorded.

1966: Mayor John Lindsay calls New York "Fun City."  "Fun" is used derisively; the "Big Apple" campaign about five years later seeks to replace this nickname.

1968: November 22, 1968, EAST VILLAGE OTHER, pg. 11 cartoon:


1970: Charles Gillett, president of the NY Convention and Visitors Bureau, revives "the Big Apple" as New York's symbol.

1988: A May 15 "Dear Abby" column asks readers why New York is called "the Big Apple." Some replies are printed on August 9. It is generally accepted that "the Big Apple" is a jazz term. Gerald Cohen, a professor at the University of Missouri-Rolla and editor of Comments on Etymology_, reads the columns. Working with the archives of the late San Francisco word collector Peter Tamony, Cohen descides to research horseracing links. 

1990: Barry Popik meets Gerald Cohen in the New York Public Library. Popik does some research on "the Big Apple."

1991: Gerald Cohen publishes the 106-page monograph, Origin of New York CIty's Nickname "The Big Apple".

1992: Barry Popik discovers the December 1, 1926 "Big Apple" explanation by John J. Fitz Gerald.

1997: "Big Apple Corner" is dedicated at West 54th Street and Broadway, in honor of New York Morning Telegraph track writer John J. Fit Gerald, who lived there from 1934 until his death in 1963.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityThe Big Apple • Monday, July 05, 2004 • Permalink

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