1. Origins of American City Nicknames - Yahoo Voices
Every state in America has a capitol and state symbol, but what about nicknames for cities that
essentially seem to have been created by the people that lived there? Here, I'm going to examine ten
American cities, what their nicknames are, and how that nickname was created.
1. Las Vegas aka "Sin City"
Also known as "The Entertainment Capitol of the World," "The Capital of Second Chances" and "The
Marriage Capitol of the World," Las Vegas, Nevada is most commonly referred to as "Sin City."
Like the movie, any place described as a "sin city" is a place where there's lots of "activity" going on;
whether legal or illegal. If you have a vice in this world, Las Vegas is the place to indulge in it. These
vices usually include sex, drugs, alcohol, prostitution and gambling. And while other cities certainly
contain all of these elements, Vegas is infamous for being the place where none of these vices have
to hide; in fact, they're way out in the open for everyone to see, whether you're comfortable with
them or not. Hence the motto, "What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas."
In addition, money is what runs this city. Walking around Vegas, you may indeed find yourself in
another "city," although despite your blurry vision, I ensure you it's fake.
However, the bright lights are attractive, and the city does have appeal, no matter how faux it is.
Vegas has, and probably always will be, the number one place to party and let your addictions run
wild, whatever they may be.
2. Portland aka "City of Roses"
Portland, Oregon is most commonly known as "The City of Roses" or "Rose City," and rightfully so.
Due to its warm summers and wet winters, Portland has the perfect geological environment for
growing roses. It contains numerous rose gardens, notably the International Rose Test Garden,
which is located in Washington Park. Here, there are over 550 variations of roses, with over 7,000
rose plants grown to date. It is the oldest operating rose garden in the United States, and is quite a
sight to see.
Specifically, the name grew its roots after the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in 1905, where
Harry Lane (former mayor) suggested the city have a "festival of roses."
3. Philadelphia aka "City of Brotherly Love"
One might wonder why Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is known as the "City of Brotherly Love," what
with the high crime rate, unbeautiful people and the overall filthiness of it. (Yes, I live here, and yes,
these remarks have been made by newscasters, residents and visitors alike.)
Well, the answer is simple: In colonial times, Quaker William Penn wanted a place where anyone
could worship their religion freely, so he named it Philadelphia, which literally translates to the
Greek "brotherly love." At the time, this led to peace among settlers and the Native Americans living
there, giving Philadelphia grand appeal over other US states.
2. I will say that while you may not "feel the love" while walking the streets of Philly, it still is an
extremely diverse place to live, and of course, it is home to some of the country's greatest
achievements in terms of monuments and national independence.
4. Chicago aka "The Windy City"
Also called "Chi-town," "City of Big Shoulders" and "Second City," Chicago is most aptly called "The
The most obvious explanation if the name is due to the weather; being on the shores of Lake
Michigan, the city is naturally windy. Despite this, Chicago is not notably "windier" then other cities.
Another explanation could be that during certain time periods, Chicago was in a constant bustle as
far as business, trade and sports. It was once called "Porkopolis" in the 1840s as a result of their
defeating the city of Cincinnati in the meatpacking business, while another defeat of this rival city
came with the creation of the White Socks Major League Baseball Team, in opposition to the Red
Socks. Chicago also beat out other cities for the location of the 1933 World Fair.
It's believed that in the 1850s, the term "windy city" was first used in a newspaper. I suppose the
rest is history.
5. New York City aka "The Big Apple"
New York City, New York had, and still has several nicknames, such as "Gotham City," "New Jack
City," "Empire City," "The Capitol of the World," "The City so Nice They Named it Twice" and "The
City that Never Sleeps." While all of these names apply, the most infamous name for New York City
is "The Big Apple."
Although numerous theories exist, it's been agreed that the nickname originally appeared in a
newspaper article by John J. Fitz Gerald. He wrote several articles on business and recreation in
New York in the 1920's, and commonly used the phrase in almost every article. People caught on,
and soon other writers, politicians and composers were using "the big apple" within their work.
If this wasn't enough proof, mayor Giuliani named the corner of West 54th and Broadway after this
nickname, as this is where Fitz Gerald resided.
6. New Orleans aka "The Big Easy"
Having visited New Orleans, Louisiana, I can tell you that "The Big Easy" is indeed an appropriate
name, even without knowing the background information beforehand. Despite the chaos of Mardis
Gras, New Orleans is a very easy-going, laid-back city, where the residents don't mind taking it slow.
In earlier times, New Orleans was a safe-haven for musicians, notably in the jazz and blues
community. Many musicians, hustlers and vagabonds alike would come to New Orleans to make an
"easy" living, practicing their craft. In addition, even when Prohibition was taking place in the US,
New Orleans maintained a relaxed atitude towards alcohol compared to other states.
Today, New Orleans remains a relatively cheap place to live, compared to other cities. It has
constant thriving business, especially with the Mardis Gras festivities, and people generally come
here to have a good time, but also to relax, and experience culture. A film called The Big Easy was
shot here in 1987.
3. 7. Detroit aka "The Motor City"
Detroit, Michigan has many nicknames, including "Motown City," "Hockeytown," "The 313" and
"Rock City." The most popular however, is "The Motor City."
It is called this due to it being the center of the world's automobile industry. The word "Detroit"
literally is related to this business; the Ford Motor Company was founded here in 1904, with the
useful function of an assembly line.
General Motors and Chrysler are located here as well.
8. Seattle aka "The Emerald City"
Seattle, Washington has had many nicknames, such as "Queen City," "Rain City," "Jet City" and "The
Gateway to Alaska." The name that stuck, as a result of a contest in the 1980s by a
tourism/promotional company, was "Emerald City."
Emerald is the color green, so a city named after the color must have lots of visible greenery, and
this is true for Seattle.
Seattle houses numerous lush, green forests, trees, parks, gardens and has more than 6,000 acres of
park-land within it's walls. The state of Washington is often called the "Evergreen State," and
rightfully so, as Evergreen trees line the lands of Seattle.
9. Los Angeles aka "The City of Angels"
Also called "City of Lights," "City of Eternal Holiday" and a hotspot for the "American Dream," my
favorite name for Los Angeles is "The City of Angels.
Simply put, Los Angeles translates to "the angels" in Spanish, and most likely was called this due to
all the beauty that ungulfed this city around it's creation. Besides the wonderful climate, LA was,
and still is, the place where artists, actors, models and musicians flock to, in order to "make it big."
More appropriately, LA should be the "City of Lost Angels."
In addition, according to documents from the Commandant General de la Croix and Viceroy
Bucareli, the originating piece of land was once called "El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles," which
translates to "The Town of the Queen of the Angels."
Perhaps the most accurate account of the city (in both a light and dark manner,) is within The Doors'
4. "L.A. Woman," where they sing, "Are you a lucky little lady in the City of Light? Or just another lost
10.Phoenix aka "The Valley of the Sun"
Phoenix, Arizona is called "The Valley of the Sun," and rightfully so.
It is located in the center of Arizona, and lies in the northern Sonoran Desert. On average, the
temperature for summer is about 90 degrees, while winter is about 55 degrees average. The aspect
of it being hot in Phoenix is obvious, but the usage of the word "valley" is most likely because
Phoenix is surrounded by mountains.