Why is New York Called The Big Apple? John J. Fitzgerald, a horse-racing writer for The Morning Telegraph in the 1920s was the first to popularize the term “The Big Apple”. While on assignment in New Orleans, Fitzgerald overheard stablehands refer to New York City racecourses as “The Big Apple”. Fitzgerald loved the term so much that he named his racing column “Around the Big Apple”, and the title to the column became synonymous with the New York racing scene. It was a decade later when jazz musicians picked up “The Big Apple” to refer to New York City as the jazz capital of the world. In the early 1970s, the name played an important part in reviving the city’s tourism industry. Today, the nickname is known around the world and is synonymous with the cultural and tourist attractions of New York City.