A Brief History of The Big Apple

BCE. Small groups of nomadic hunters stalk game across the lands that will, in a few thou­sand years, become New York City. The hunters’ lega­cy con­sists of some flint spear tips and a few piles of bones.

BCE. The crab apple is the only apple native to North America.

BCE. The wild apple Malus siev­er­sii, native to the moun­tains of south­ern Kaza­khstan, is the ances­tor to our domes­ti­cat­ed apple.

1200’s. First men­tion of the city of Almatu (now known as Almaty) in Kaza­khstan, the city tak­ing its name from the local word for apple.

Pre-1600’s. The mid-Atlantic region of North Amer­i­ca that includes mod­ern-day New York City is inhab­it­ed by The Lenape peo­ples and is referred to as Lenapehoking.

April 1524. The Flo­ren­tine explor­er Gio­van­ni da Ver­raz­zano sails the French ves­sel La Dauphine into Upper New York Bay, anchor­ing between Stat­en Island and Brook­lyn. The crew encoun­ters the native Lenape, who greet them “very cheer­ful­ly, mak­ing great shouts of admi­ra­tion.” Ver­raz­zano names the region Nou­velle-Angoulême. A squall soon blows La Dauphine out to sea.

1525. Por­tuguese sailor Este­ban Gomez makes his way past present-day Man­hat­tan and up the Hud­son Riv­er, but turns around upon decid­ing that it is not an effi­cient route to Chi­na. Before leav­ing, how­ev­er, he cap­tures 57 New Eng­land natives to sell as slaves in Lisbon.

1609. The Dutch name of Man­hat­tan is derived from the Lenape name of Man­na-hata, as record­ed in the log­book for Hen­ry Hudson’s ship Halve Maen (Half Moon).

1618. The Halve Maen is destroyed dur­ing an attack on Jakar­ta in the Dutch East Indies.

1624. A Dutch fur trad­ing post is estab­lished on the south­ern tip of Manhattan.

1625. In Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts (future home of the Red Sox), the Rev­erend William Blax­ton plants the first North Amer­i­can orchard of domes­ti­cat­ed apples.

1664. The British con­quer the area of Man­hat­tan and its envi­rons. King Charles II decides to rename it New York in hon­or of his broth­er, James II, the Duke of York.

1673. The Dutch momen­tar­i­ly recap­ture the city and rename it New Orange, before ced­ing it back to the British.

1688. King James II’s brief reign comes to an end when his nephew and son-in-law William of Orange brings an invad­ing army from the Dutch Repub­lic and depos­es James, then rules with his wife (and James’s daugh­ter) Mary.

1700. The Lenape pop­u­la­tion of New York has dimin­ished to approx­i­mate­ly 200.

1741. Thir­teen blacks are accused of arson and exe­cut­ed by being burned alive. Slaves con­sti­tute approx­i­mate­ly 20% (2,500) of the city pop­u­la­tion at this time, and there is a fear that they are con­spir­ing with poor whites to set fire to the city.

Sept 26, 1774. John Chap­man, lat­er known as John­ny Apple­seed, is born in Leomin­ster, Mass­a­chu­setts. He wore a tin cap, which served as pro­tec­tion from the weath­er and as a mush pot. He brought the gift of alco­hol to the fron­tier by plant­i­ng nurs­eries of cider apples.

1833. The Ger­man nat­u­ral­ist Carl Friedrich von Lede­bour describes Malus siev­er­sii, hav­ing observed it on a trip to the Altai Mountains.

April 15, 1909. A repli­ca of the Halve Maen, com­mis­sioned by the Nether­lands to com­mem­o­rate the 300th anniver­sary of Hen­ry Hudson’s voy­age, is launched from Amsterdam.

July 12, 1911. Colum­nist John J. Fitz Ger­ald, over­hear­ing sta­ble­hands in New Orleans refer to the NYC race-cours­es as “The Big Apple” titles his rac­ing col­umn in THE REVELATOR as “Cir­cling the Big Apple.” Lat­er, over a con­tract dis­pute, he takes his col­umn to The Morn­ing Tele­graph and reti­tles it as “Around the Big Apple.”

1920’s. Native Amer­i­cans, includ­ing mem­bers of the Lenape, begin to be hired as sky­scraper con­struc­tion workers.

1929. Almaty becomes the cap­i­tal of the Kaza­kh state.

June 16, 1934. The Big Apple Jazz club opens on 135 St. and Adam Clay­ton Pow­ell Boule­vard in Harlem, using a upside-down apple on its name plaque. It is described in the Ams­ter­dam News as “by far the most pre­ten­tious bar ever opened by a Negro.”

July 22, 1934. The repli­ca of the Halve Maen is destroyed in a fire.

1964. The Ver­razano-Nar­rows Bridge opens, the Tri­bor­ough Bridge & Tun­nel Author­i­ty drop­ping one z from Gio­van­ni da Verrazzano’s name because of an error in a con­struc­tion contract.

June 9, 1978. The Rolling Stones release their album Some Girls. The song “Shat­tered” con­tains the lyrics, “Go ahead, bite the Big Apple, don’t mind the maggots.”

June 10, 1989. A sec­ond repli­ca of the Halve Maen is chris­tened, fol­low­ing its con­struc­tion in Albany, New York. Nicholas Ben­ton, its design­er and builder, dies the same month after falling from the snapped mast of a schooner.

Feb 12, 1997. May­or Rudolph W. Giu­liani signs bill 856A that des­ig­nates the south­west cor­ner of West 54th Street and Broad­way in Man­hat­tan as “Big Apple Cor­ner,” doing so to hon­or Fitz Ger­ald, who lived there.

Dec 10, 1997. Astana is announced as the new cap­i­tal of Kaza­khstan, replac­ing Almaty.

Sept. 11, 2001. Two Boe­ing 767 air­craft, hijacked by al-Qae­da ter­ror­ists, are crashed into the twin tow­ers of the World Trade Center.

June 15, 2005. Richard Bowes’s short sto­ry, “There’s a Hole in the City” is pub­lished in SCI FICTION.

Nov. 10, 2006. The site of Big Apple Jazz club is replaced by a Popeye’s Chick­en & Bis­cuits fast-food restau­rant. The orig­i­nal plaque for the jazz club is “res­cued” and put up for sale on eBay.

Sept. 2009. To cel­e­brate the 400th anniver­sary of the Halve Maen’s voy­age, the crown prince of the Nether­lands sails on board the repli­ca ship.

Oct. 2010. The genome sequence for the Gold­en Deli­cious apple is pub­lished in the jour­nal Nature Genet­ics. The apple genome has 57,000 genes, approx­i­mate­ly twice the num­ber found in the human genome.

Jan 25, 2017. The Popeye’s restau­rant on 135th St burns down in a kitchen fire.

March 19, 2018. The Popeye’s restau­rant on 135th St reopens.

Octo­ber 2018. The Ver­razano-Nar­rows Bridge is offi­cial­ly renamed the Ver­raz­zano-Nar­rows Bridge, return­ing the lost z to Gio­van­ni da Verrazzano’s name after near­ly 60 years of its absence. (Man­hat­tan has not yet been returned to the Lenapes.)

Dec 15, 2018. THE REVELATOR pub­lish­es a spe­cial “Big Apple” issue.