Only Geography Buffs Would Know How These Cities Got Their Nicknames

By Benjamin Filing – February 27, 2021
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Image by Mlenny/GettyImages

Culture being what it is, we’re all armed with the knowledge of some of the world’s most famous cities’ nicknames. The real question, though, is how they came to receive these alternative names? Was New York City once home to the largest greengrocers in the USA? Will Rome really live forever and ever and ever? Read on to find out. 

New York - The Big Apple

‘The Big Apple’ wasn’t intended to be a complimentary nickname when it was used for the first time. Edward S. Martin wrote in 1909’s The Wayfarer In New York that the city was “a big apple, which received a disproportionate share of the national sap”, meaning the money it got from the federal government. 

Paris - The City of Light

While the French capital was one of the first cities to be lit by gaslight, it was also the figurative center of 'The Age of Enlightenment.' This was a period between the death of King Louis XIV, who was known as the Sun King, and the start of the French Revolution. 

Chicago - The Windy City

This isn’t about the breeze coming off Lake Michigan. Instead, it’s about the habits of politicians from Illinois back in the day and their propensity for being full of bluster. This governmental gasbagging was frequently regarded as erring on the side of the untruth, and the nom de plume for Chicagoans stuck. 

Rome - The Eternal City

Such was the confidence in the Empire, the great minds of the time felt that it and Rome would indeed continue forevermore. Tibullus granted the city the name ‘Urbs Aeterna,’ which is Latin for its English moniker. Virgil said that the network-based in Rome was the ‘empire without end.’

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