Why is new Orleans Called the Big Easy

There is a tendency in America and elsewhere, though not so prevalent outside of the US borders, to adopt euphemism to describe their cities. For example, if you mention the “Big Apple” everyone knows that it is in reference to New York. New Orleans, on the other hand has taken on the fond title of the “Big Easy.”

Although this affectionate title for New Orleans has been widely used in films, promotional material and even literature, there is some confusion, and indeed debate, about how the title of the “Big Easy” came to be bestowed upon New Orleans in the first place. What follows is just a few of the favoured and most popular explanations for the “Big Easy” nickname being applied to the city.

Perhaps the most recent explanation to emerge is one that dates the euphemism back a mere thirty years. Many people attribute the birth of the term “Big Easy” to the gossip columnist Betty Guilland. It is said that during a discussion when the virtues of I love New York and its alter-ego the “Big Apple” were being extolled, Guilland stated that if New York was the “Big Apple,” then New Orleans must surely be the “Big Easy.” Apparently this was a reference to the laid-back attitude of New Orleans, where the pace of life appears to be simpler and slower and the population are more easy-going.

Another legend holds that the term “Big Easy” relates to the musical links of New Orleans. The city abounds with musical talent and is a Mecca for people wishing somewhere to learn Jazz and blues music. It is a common belief that no other city in the US is so receptive to people with musical talents. Therefore, some believe that the “Big Easy” term relates to how easy musicians can study their craft and find work in New Orleans.

Where there is music alcohol will never be far away and this, the alcohol, might be the foundation for the third legend of the origin of the name the “Big Easy.” Even during the dreaded time of prohibition, when drinking was heavily frowned upon if not worse rumour has it night life in New Orleans paid no attention to these restrictions. It was relatively easy at night in the city to find any drink that suited one’s palate, from the amber liquid on the rocks to the best wines around. Hence, the name “Big Easy” was said to have evolved because of the city’s relaxed attitude to liquor.

Finally, and perhaps the least exciting of the possible “Big Easy” explanations, is the one that relates simply to the living standards enjoyed in the city. Work in New Orleans was easy to come by in the past and food, drink, housing and other necessities were affordable for almost everyone. Therefore, there are those who suggest the term arose because of the easy living that could be had in New Orleans.

Whatever the origination of the euphemism, and personally the liquor one is my favourite, the term “Big Easy” has been almost inscribed in stone following the 1987 release of the film with the same name set where else but in New Orleans.