The Big Apple
New York City is known for a lot of things: Times Square, yellow taxi cabs, and crowds, to name a few. But apples? Not so much. So it’s no surprise this nickname has nothing to do with fruit. In fact, the name has horseracing roots. Throughout the 1920s, John Fitz Gerald, a horseracing reporter for a local newspaper, referred to New York as the Big Apple. He wrote that he’d first heard the term used by African American stable hands, who used it to convey the importance of the races the city hosted. By the end of the ’20s, the term was used in other contexts as well, and by the ’30s it became the name of a popular song. It wasn’t until the ’70s that the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau began to promote the “Big Apple” nickname.
Boston has a few historical nicknames that hark back to its days as a colonial hub: The Cradle of Liberty, The Puritan City, The City on a Hill. But Beantown is a tribute to something else entirely: its food. In colonial times, a favorite Boston food was beans baked in molasses. Sailors and traders began to look forward to the dish while in port, and dubbed the city “Beantown.” Don’t miss the answers to 16 history questions everyone gets wrong.