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Cities and the Meanings Behind Their Nicknames

Everyone has heard of New York being called 'The Big Apple, 'The Smoke' describing London and Paris is renowned for being the 'City of Love' - but have you ever stopped to think why?

There are a variety of reasons why each city has earned its name - some of them refer to cultural heritage, whereas others refer to events that happened and the overall environment of the city. In this blog post we are going to be explaining the stories behind the names of the world's cities, revealing exactly why they have been given that particular nickname.

'The Big Apple' - New York

The phrase itself was originally used in a 1909 novel titled 'The Wayfarer of New York' by Edward S. Martin. The book was about how other cities of the world thought New York as being 'greedy' as the book reads 'the big apple gets a disproportionate share of the national sap.'

'The Smoke' - London

London got its name of 'The Smoke' from The Great Smog in 1952. Although London had always been a smoky place to be, it was this event that anchored its nickname. The pollution of the smog was so toxic it caused 5 days of havoc in the city, killing over 4,000 people and even choking cows to death whilst grazing in the fields. It was so thick it brought air, rail and pedestrian traffic to a complete standstill as it was impossible to navigate, or even see your feet!

'Sin City' - Las Vegas

Block 16 became renowned for sexual acts, gambling and selling alcohol. After the block was demolished during the Second World War, however the 'sins' could not be taken away and Las Vegas was built up around this area. Ever heard the saying of 'what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?' - well, now you know why!

'The City of Love' - Paris

Paris is well-known for its romantic setting - love-lock bridges, the Eiffel Tower and an array of musicians and street-artists playing love songs around every corner... even the French language itself is titled as 'the language of love'! Another name that Paris is sometimes known as is the 'City of Light' due to the Eiffel Tower's spectacular light display at night time as well as being the first city to use electric street lamps.

'The Pearl of the Orient' - Hong Kong

Many individuals believe that Hong Kong's nickname originated from the city's art, legacy and traditions however this is not so. In fact, the name comes from the Hong Kong Coat of Arms during 1959 to 1997 to which the crest featured a lion holding a pearl. The lion represents the greatness and nobleness of the country, and the pearl signifies the small but precious nature of the colony.

'The Lion City' - Singapore

Singapore's nickname comes from 'Singapura' which translates as 'Lion City' in English. Sir Stamford Raffles is the city's founder and he gave the city its name, which he says came to him after seeing a merlion (a mix between a mermaid and a lion) even though lions are not a native animal of Singapore at all!

'The Whitehouse' - Moscow

You may be surprised to learn that Moscow's nickname does not refer to the white snow found in the area - the name was given to the city to highlight medieval Moscow and the architectural image it wanted to represent. During this time, the majority of the architecture was made out of white stone - even the famous Kremlin Wall which has since lost its white colour due to restoration and now is a reddish colour.

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