Manzana (January 1966); "New York" & "New England" in maps

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Apr 3 22:07:31 UTC 2003

A few tangential remarks and questions. Pardon my ignorance of Spanish.

Why is a [city] block called "manzana" in Spanish? Is it really named after
a fruit, or is it coincidental? ["Manzana" = "apple" is apparently from
earlier "mazana" < Latin "[mala] Matiana" or so, named after a proper noun.]

Why would "manzana principal" be rendered "big apple" rather than "main
apple" or whatever? Modern Spanish expresses "The Big Apple" as "La Gran
Manzana" AFAIK. If English "big apple" = "downtown" existed and was adopted
into Spanish in 1910 or whenever, I would expect to see alternative forms
like this, and/or "main/first/prime apple" in English.

In Spanish there is the metaphor "manzana de la discordia" which I guess is
something like "bone of contention" (maybe we have "apple of discord" in
English too?) ... apparently referring to the mythical apple [Paris' prize]
which started the Trojan War. In English there is "apple of my eye" for
example, and I suppose the idea of an apple as a prize is natural in both

-- Doug Wilson

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