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Why New York Is Called "The Big Apple" and How 8 Other Famous Cities Got Their Nicknames

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  • New York City: the Big Apple

    New York City is known by many nicknames—such as “the City that Never Sleeps” or “Gotham”—but the most popular one is probably “the Big Apple.” How did this nickname come about? Although uses of the phrase are documented in the early 1900s, the term first became popular in the 1920s when John J. Fitz Gerald, a sports writer, started a column about horse racing called “Around the Big Apple.” However, it wasn’t until a tourism campaign in the 1970s that the nickname came to be synonymous with New York City.

  • Geneva: the Peace Capital

    Geneva, the second most populous city in Switzerland, is a city known for its diplomacy. Geneva is not only home to the European headquarters for the United Nations but also where international organizations, such as the Red Cross, were founded and where the Geneva Conventions, a series of treaties for ameliorating the effects of war on soldiers and civilians, were signed. It seems fitting, then, that Geneva is known as “the Peace Capital.”

  • Toronto: Muddy York

    “Muddy York” sounds like a nickname that would be better suited for New York when it’s raining. But it’s actually a nickname for the city of Toronto in Canada. “Muddy York” is now not as popular a moniker as it used to be, but the name refers to a time in Toronto’s history when there was no drainage system or sewers—meaning the “muddy” part of the name was quite literal. The “York” part actually goes back to when Toronto was first colonized, and its name was “Town of York” to honor Prince Frederick, duke of York. Now, the nickname “Muddy York” represents the early years of this Canadian city.

  • Ushuaia: the End of the World

    If you travel south, you’ll eventually hit Antarctica, home to the South Pole (and little else). However, before you get there, you may reach Ushuaia, a city in the Patagonia region of Argentina that is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world, earning it the nickname “El Fin del Mundo” (“the End of the World”). Although Puerto Williams, a much-smaller Chilean settlement, is technically farther south, the nickname is still used as a slogan by the Argentine government for this city on the tip of South America.

  • Las Vegas: Sin City

    Las Vegas is a city known for its robust nightlife scene and its casinos. Over 40 million people visit each year to indulge in its gambling, drinking, and dazzling shows. Some even venture outside the city to visit Nevada’s legally operated brothels—or indulge illegally within the city limits. Las Vegas is also a top wedding destination, both for preplanned weddings and more on-the-fly affairs. It’s no surprise that this city, where many vices can be indulged, is called “Sin City”—because “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

  • Mumbai: the City of Dreams

    With an estimated population of 18.4 million people, Mumbai is one of the most populous cities in India. Mumbai is not only the financial hub of India but also the home of Bollywood, one of the most popular Indian movie industries, making this city a particularly appealing place to move to. The opportunities here are endless, which is why Mumbai is often referred to as “the City of Dreams.”

  • Sydney: Harbour City

    Located on the southeastern coast of Australia, Sydney is a city that takes advantage of its location. Once a major port city, Sydney is sometimes called “Harbour City,” in honor of this prime real estate. People enjoy hitting the beach to go surfing or snorkeling, and one of the most recognizable buildings, the Sydney Opera House, is right on the harbor!

  • Cairo: the City of a Thousand Minarets

    Cairo is not only the largest city in Egypt but also one of the largest in the Middle East. It is known for its rich history and serves as a center for the film and music industries in the area. Cairo also is known for having a wealth of Islamic architecture, which is why you might hear it being called “the City of a Thousand Minarets.” Minarets have a unique role in Islam, as they are traditionally the towers from which Muslims are called to prayer five times each day.

  • Paris: the City of Love

    Whether it’s because French is considered the “language of love” or because of the romantic walks along the Seine River, Paris has distinguished itself as the “City of Love.” Paris has long attracted those with labors of love, such as writers and artists. Love can be found everywhere, from its cozy cafés to the Arts bridge, to which couples in the early 2000s attached padlocks to demonstrate their commitment to one another.