The Big Apple, Sin City, The Big Easy – these city monikers have easily become part of the national vocabulary. But have you ever wondered where these phrases came from?
For New York City, many believe it originated on the racetracks. In the 1920s, a newspaper reporter overheard some stablehands saying that they were going to the “big apple,” referring to New York City. The reporter later used the catchphrase in one of his columns. He began the column with the header, “The Big Apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York.”
What about The Big Easy? In the early 1900s, a dance hall in New Orleans claimed that name. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that a local Louisiana newspaper began writing about New Orleans using this nickname. She compared the easy-going way of life in New Orleans to the hurried pace of New York City.
In Las Vegas, no one is really surprised of the nickname, Sin City. What is surprising, however, is that the name Las Vegas actually means “the meadows.” A bit more tranquil than what we all think of the city. As the city became the number one party destination, it soon developed the reputation of Sin City, a place you can go to get into trouble.
Here in Baltimore, you may or may not know the origin of our most common nickname, Charm City.
Sure, we’ve thrown around the phrase for years, but how did the name take off? In the 1970s, then Mayor Donald Shaefer was worried about the city’s image. He wanted to fight the reputation that Baltimore was “Washington’s Brooklyn.” At that time, Baltimore’s downtown area known as the Inner Harbor had been neglected and was occupied by a collection of abandoned warehouses.
Shaefer decided to do something about it and had an advertising firm come up with a new slogan to promote the city. The team thought that Baltimore had so much hidden charm. Bill Evans wrote the line that set it all:
“Baltimore has more history and unspoiled charm tucked away in quiet corners than most American cities out in the spotlight.”
The firm’s idea was then to show off the city’s hidden charm. They then created an advertising campaign tied to the collection of charms for charm bracelets. Today, while those ads and bracelets are long gone, the nickname has definitely stuck.
Soon after, efforts were made to redevelop the area starting with the construction of the Maryland Science Center, which opened in 1976. Harborplace, the urban retail and restaurant complex, opened on the waterfront shortly after in 1980. Then soon after that, the National Aquarium opened and soon became Maryland’s largest tourist destination.
While many new slogans have been tried out both before and since the Charm City moniker, it is this one that has seemed to stick around best. From bakeries to breweries, and even roofing and construction, many have embraced Charm City as a part of their business name.
You can even take part in the Charm City Run each year or attend the Charm City Bluegrass Festival.
It’s safe to say that residents of the Baltimore area have found this particular city moniker rather, charming.