Nicknames for NY

Apple Sculpture on Sixth Avenue with Radio City Music Hall in the background

Nicknames for NY: A Closer Look at New York City’s Monikers

New York City is the largest city in the United States, and is well known for many things, including its iconic landmarks, diverse culture, vibrant energy, and its many nicknames. While the nicknames for NY range from the Big Apple to Gotham City, they are all a reflection of its history through the years, and the place that it holds on a US and even a global stage. As a New Yorker since I moved here in 1999, my all time favorite continues to be the Big Apple, even though the others continue to be as popular and culturally relevant.

New York City has a long and colorful history of nicknames, each reflecting a different aspect of the city’s character and culture.  The origins of some of these names for New York City are well-known, such as the term Big Apple which is believed to have originated in the 1920s, when jazz musicians used it to refer to the city’s music scene. Over time, the term became more widely used, and it eventually came to represent the city as a whole. Other nicknames, such as The City That Never Sleeps and The Capital of the World, highlight the city’s fast-paced lifestyle and its global influence. Whether you call it New York, NYC, or the Big Apple, there is no denying that this city is one of the most vibrant and exciting places in the world.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular and interesting nicknames for the city, and explore the stories behind them.

Lets take a closer look at some of the most popular New York nicknames and their origins.

New Amsterdam

One of first nicknames for New York was New Amsterdam, which was named after the Dutch settlement that was established in 1626.

New York was originally called New Amsterdam because it was founded by the Dutch in 1626 as a trading post and was named after the Dutch city of Amsterdam. The Dutch West India Company established the settlement of New Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan Island as a center for the fur trade. The settlement grew and became the capital of New Netherland, a Dutch colony in North America. In 1664, the English captured the colony and renamed it New York in honor of the Duke of York, who later became King James II of England.

The Big Apple

Perhaps the most famous nickname for NYC is The Big Apple. The origin of this nickname dates back to the 1920s when it was used by jazz musicians, and went on to be used by jockeys to refer to the city’s many horse racing tracks. The term big apple was used to describe the large purses (or rewards) offered at these races, which were considered the most prestigious in the country.

In the 1970s, the nickname was popularized by a writer named John J. Fitz Gerald, who used it in his horse racing column for the New York Morning Telegraph. The nickname quickly caught on and became synonymous with NYC.

Gotham

Gotham is often used as a nickname for New York, and widely believed to be inspired by a fictional Gotham City in Batman comic books.  In actual fact, the nickname Gotham for New York City was coined by Washington Irving in 1807, inspired by the folk tale The Wise Men of Gotham about the crazy people of Gotham, Nottinghamshire. In this tale, Gotham is a village in England known for its wise fools who pretend to be foolish in order to outsmart others.  Irving used the nickname in his satirical piece about NYC’s politics, residents, and culture called Salmgundi.  

Gotham was later used in Batman comics and movies, though the nickname actually predates the Dark Knight by nearly 120 years.

The Empire City

Empire City is a nickname for New York City that was derived from the state’s nickname, The Empire State. The term Empire State was first used by George Washington in 1785 to describe New York state’s important role in the American Revolution. The nickname stuck and was later popularized by New York’s governor, George Clinton, who used it in his speeches and official correspondence. The term Empire City was used in reference to New York City’s status as the most populous city in New York State, which is known as The Empire State.

City of Skyscrapers

New York City is home to some of the world’s tallest and most iconic skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and One World Trade Center, and the recent additions of all the skyscrapers on Billionaires Row in Manhattan. The city’s skyline is a testament to its architectural achievements and engineering prowess. The City of Skyscrapers nickname reflects the city’s towering structures and its ability to reach for the sky. It also represents the city’s spirit of innovation and progress, where people are always looking for ways to push the boundaries and achieve greater heights.

The City That Never Sleeps

NYC is also known as The City That Never Sleeps, a nickname that reflects the city’s fast-paced lifestyle and 24/7 culture. The nickname was popularized in the 1960s and has since become synonymous with NYC.

The nickname is often attributed to Frank Sinatra, who famously sang the song New York, New York in 1977. The song includes the lyrics, I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps, and find I’m king of the hill, top of the heap. The song became an instant classic and helped to solidify NYC’s reputation as a city that never stops.

The City

Manhattan is often referred to as The City by New Yorkers, which can be confusing as New York City has 5 boroughs, which includes Manhattan.  

The nickname is not universally recognized, though it is more than likely that if a New Yorker says they are going to visit The City or that they live in The City, they are referring to Manhattan.

The Crossroads of the World

New York City is a global hub for commerce, culture, and tourism. The city attracts millions of visitors every year, who come to experience its vibrant culture, world-class entertainment, and iconic landmarks. The Crossroads of the World nickname reflects the city’s position as a meeting point for people from all over the world, and is often used to refer to Times Square as well. It represents the city’s spirit of diversity and inclusivity, where people from different backgrounds and cultures come together to create a unique and vibrant atmosphere.

Center of the Universe

Another nickname that reflects New York’s cultural and social significance is The Center of the Universe, which could refer to NYC or Times Square.  This name refers to the city’s status as one of the most important cultural and financial centers in the world.

The Capital of the World

One of the most popular nicknames for New York City is The Capital of the World. This nickname is a testament to the city’s status as a global economic powerhouse. New York City is home to some of the largest multinational corporations in the world, and it is a hub for international trade and commerce.

The City of Dreams

New York City is often referred to as the City of Dreams. This nickname reflects the city’s reputation as a place where people come to pursue their dreams and make them a reality. The city has been a hub for artists, musicians, and writers, providing them with opportunities to showcase their talents and reach a wider audience. The City of Dreams also represents the city’s spirit of ambition and determination, where people strive to achieve their goals and make their mark on the world.

Concrete Jungle

The city’s nickname The Concrete Jungle reflects its towering skyscrapers that are its defining feature.  Despite its reputation as a concrete jungle, New York City is also home to many parks and green spaces, providing a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Nicknames for NYC Boroughs

While the nicknames for New York City and Manhattan are used interchangeably, the other New York City boroughs have their own identity and nicknames inspired by their culture and history. 

The Bronx

The Bronx, named after the Swedish settler Jonas Bronck, has several nicknames, including The Boogie Down, The BX, Bronx County, and El Bronx. The Boogie Down is perhaps the most popular nickname, which was coined in the 1970s by Bronx-based DJ Kool Herc as a reference to the borough’s vibrant music and dance scene, and as the birthplace of hip hop. The BX is a shortened version of The Bronx and is commonly used by locals. Bronx County is the official name of the borough, and El Bronx is a Spanish-language nickname that is often used by Spanish-speaking residents.

Queens

Queens has several nicknames, including The World’s Borough and The Melting Pot. The World’s Borough is perhaps the most popular nickname, which was coined in the 1960s to reflect the borough’s diversity and the fact that it is home to people from all over the world. The Melting Pot is another nickname that reflects Queens’ diversity and the fact that it is a place where different cultures and communities come together.

Brooklyn

Brooklyn has several nicknames, including The Borough of Homes and Churches, BK, The City of Trees, and The County of Kings. The Borough of Homes and Churches is a nickname that reflects the borough’s many residential neighborhoods and historic churches. BK is a shortened version of Brooklyn and is commonly used by locals. The City of Trees is a nickname that reflects the borough’s many parks and green spaces. The County of Kings is a nickname that reflects Brooklyn’s former status as a county before it became part of New York City in 1898, which is still called Kings County even today.

Staten Island

Staten Island has several nicknames, including The Forgotten Borough, Staten, The Rock, and Richmond County. The Forgotten Borough is perhaps the most popular nickname, which reflects the fact that Staten Island is often overlooked or ignored by visitors to New York City. Staten is a shortened version of Staten Island and is commonly used by locals. The Rock is a nickname that reflects the island’s rocky terrain and rugged coastline. Richmond County is the official name of the borough and is sometimes used interchangeably with Staten Island.

Overall, NYC is a city with many nicknames, each with its own unique history and meaning. From The Big Apple to The City That Never Sleeps, these nicknames reflect the city’s rich cultural heritage and its status as a global icon.

Closing Thoughts on Nicknames for NY

New York City has been given many nicknames over the years, each one reflecting a different aspect of the city’s character and history. From The Big Apple to Crossroads of the World, these nicknames have become a part of the city’s identity and are recognized around the world.

Some of the most common nicknames for New York City include The Big Apple, Gotham City, and The City That Never Sleeps. These names reflect the city’s status as a global hub of culture, finance, and entertainment, and its reputation for being a place where anything is possible.

Overall, the nicknames for New York City are rooted in its history, and reflect the city’s diversity, energy, and ambition. Whether you’re a native New Yorker or a visitor to the city, these names are a reminder of the city’s rich history and its ongoing impact on the world.

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Hi, I'm Hanit Gyani, a full time professional by day and a blogger by night and weekend. Welcome to my blog, aka my passion project, Gotta Love New York.

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