Have you ever wonder how New York City got the nickname of the Big Apple? Did you know that New York City had many nicknames in the past? Some of the nicknames are so common that we don’t even know that they are nicknames.
When the Indians first were living in New York, they gave New York City the first recorded nickname of Mahatta, which later became Manhattan. Manhatta is a word that was used by the Algonquin Indians who occupied the island. The word Manhatta means slender shape. This has to do with the narrow shape of the island’s 13 miles of coastline.
The next recorded nickname given to New York City was given by the Dutch. The Dutch, who had occupied New York City, called it New Amsterdam. It was called New Amsterdam until 1664 when the British took control of the island. At that time it was nicknamed Gotham. The strange thing about Gotham is in DC comic books Batman called home ‘Gotham’ and many people don’t know that this is New York City.
Another nickname that was given to New York City was Metropolis. Again a comic book superhero lives in a fictional city with this nickname: Superman.
Now to the modern day: some of the nicknames that were given to New York City and are still used today are “The City that Never Sleeps”–this is because New York City always has something going on 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Frank Sinatra had a song that became a slogan and finally a nickname: “If you can make it there you can make it anywhere.” There are many opportunites for people to make it in New York City so this caught on like crazy.
But for complicated reasons in the 1970’s New York City went through many fiscal troubles. The city became the butt of many jokes, and there was a big drop in tourists coming to New York City: many people, in fact, left New York City. This led to a campaign to give New York City a new image. So Charles Gillette, who worked for the New York City Visitors Bureau, used the nickname Big Apple to draw tourists to New York City.
This idea came from the ’20s and ’30s when musicians had an expression for playing in small-town gigs. It was that ‘there are many apples on the tree but when you pick New York City you picked the Big Apple.’
This nickname, the Big Apple, helped turn New York City around. People wanted to see what was with this Big Apple and returned to New York City. Based on reports for 1999 New York City is number 2 for tourists: only Orlando is ranked above New York City. So the Big Apple nickname has paid off. With Disney moving to 42nd Street New York City may be number one in tourism soon.