How Each New York City Borough Was Named

Patrick Foote of Name Explain quite succinctly explained how each borough of New York City was named using simple, but clever animation to illustrate this colorful history.

America is often referred to as a melting pot. A place where many cultures meet and come together. And where else is this easier to see that than in the names of the boroughs in its most populated city?

Some of the city names come from Dutch origins including The Bronx (Jonas Bronck), Brooklyn (Brueckelen), and Staten Island (State). Queens is named after Queen Catherine of Braganza, then Queen of England, and Brooklyn is in Kings County, which was named after King Charles II, Catherine’s husband. The name for Manhattan, which has no European origins, came from the Lenape word Mannahatta.

Foote also talked about the origins of The Big Apple.

The nickname of Big Apple was originally coined in 1920. Despite New York State being America’s top apple grower, its origins actually lie in horse racing. NYC newspaper sports journalist John Fitzgerald heard of stable hands in New Orleans calling New York the Big Apple. He liked that name and began using it in his columns. the name ended up being used at jazz clubs in the 1930s

What’s truly interesting is that New York City has many name changes over the centuries.

In 1624 the Dutch West India Company sent around 30 families to live and work on an island in the northeast of a country. They’ll go on to become the United States of America. They called this settlement New Amsterdam in ode to the city in their homeland. The land had previously been called New Angoulême, named by Italian Explorer Giovanni da Verrazano in honor of the French King Francis I…In 1664 however the British seized New Amsterdam and changed its name, naming it in honor of the Duke of York.

Foote also explained how some of the most notable streets in New York City were named.