Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Apple n.

[abbr. Big Apple n.]

1. (US black) Harlem, NYC.

[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 30 July 11/1: I will be glad when we cut into the Apple so you and I can get together.
[US]Cab Calloway New Hepsters Dict. in Calloway (1976) 252: apple (n.): the big town, the main stem, Harlem.
[US]N.Y. Age 29 Dec. 14/1: ’Twasn’t so merry for the hustlers and ‘wise boys’ along the ‘Apple’ this year.
[US]Babs Gonzales ‘Manhattan Fable’ [lyrics] About a deuce of long black-&-whites ago, a stud from the Natural Lowlands made it to The Apple.

2. (US black) a large Northern city.

[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 18: What those grey studs [...] don’t cop is that the average Lane today is from the Apple, whether it’s the Big Apple, the Windy Apple, the Tropic Apple, or the Bunker Hill Apple.
[UK](con. 1930s–50s) D. Wells Night People 117: Apple. Big city.

3. the earth, the universe.

[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 44: When he plucketh the eider feathers of the sky / Geese and scattereth them upon this twirling Apple.
[US]R.S. Gold ‘Vernacular of the Jazz World’ in AS XXXII:4 277: apple. The earth; the universe; New York City.

4. (orig. US jazz) usu. the Apple, New York City.

[US]Helen Humes ‘I Would If I Could’ [lyrics] So it’s back to the apple, and find me a better man / Well I would if I could, but damn if I think I can.
[US]F. Miller Gutbucket and Gossamer 26: Why should she stay in the Apple over a July weekend?
[US]M. Braly Shake Him Till He Rattles (1964) 35: Meanwhile all the swingers will have taken off for Venice or the Apple.
[US]H. Selby Jr Requiem for a Dream (1987) 47: The streets of that part of the Apple called the Bronx.
[US]N. George ‘Nationwide’ in Buppies, B-Boys, Baps and Bohos (1994) 82: The idea that such an institution would be run by a white man in Texas makes many brothers here in the Apple bristle.
[US]L. Stringer Grand Central Winter (1999) 113: Suzi is a past-due tourist, a Brazilian national who came to visit the Apple and long overstayed the welcome her visa provided.
[UK]G. Malkani Londonstani (2007) 212: Straight in from the Apple today.