Looking for some wickedly wonderful, dare I say delightfully exciting, insanely interesting facts about NYC?
If so then you’ve come to the right place my friend…you delightful human you.
Because in case you didn’t already know, I am a full-time NYC resident (for 20+ years), part-time history nerd.
Therefore, I am the BEYOND perfect person to come to if you want Who Wants to Be a Millionaire level awesome facts about NYC.
I also may or may not watch Jeopardy on the reg and be more than a little sad that Alex Trebek passed away (I’m still hardcore sobbing in the corner about this).
But, if you love Jeopardy just as much I do, then you can totally use this post to stock up on more glorious New York trivia than you can ever possibly need.
So, if you’re ready to swan dive into this post with me and channel your inner brainiac, then you better dress the part with a pair of suspenders, a pocket protector, and a set of black-rimmed glasses with tape in the middle,
Now, is that an Insane, over the top stereotype of a nerd? You betcha! But I’m a 90s kid who grew up with nerd-erific legends like Urkel, Screech, etc.
Therefore, we’re just going to go with it as we check out these 60+ amazing, totally fun facts about New York City.
Dear wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing reader (Yup, I lay it on thick for my dozens of fans). Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability (like 99.999%) that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Funny Facts about NYC
1. The Term “Big Apple” Actually Came from Horse Racing!
Crazy right? This is one of those interesting facts about NYC that totally blew my mind.
But yeah, New York’s famous nickname actually came from a newspaper column in the 1920s that was all about hose racing!
Yeah, apparently the term “Big Apple” was used to refer to the epic, big money prize that people received after they won a big horse race up in NYC.
And today? Well, it’s the iconic nickname of none other than NYC. The city that never sleeps (another super snazzy nickname).
2. Over 275 Different Species of Birds have been Spotted in Central Park
Look, Central Park is easily one of the most famous and best parks in NYC. And that’s a total given since we all know and love us some Central Park.
However, what you might not know is that this iconic green space is home to an incredible array of animal species.
In fact, no less than 275 different types of birds have been spotted in this 843-acre park.
So when you’re not posing for photos near Bethesda Fountain, paying your respects to John Lennon at Strawberry Fields, climbing to the top of Belvedere Castle, or visiting the whimsical Alice in Wonderland statue, you can check out the local wildlife.
Because believe it or not, avid birders have reposted seeing up to one-hundred different species IN A SINGLE DAY, during spring migrations!
Yup. My mind has just been officially blown…KABOOM.
3. A Rooster was the First Living Creature to Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
Okay, this is one of those fun facts about NYC that was too good not to share.
But if you wanna get technical about it, the rooster and Emily Warren Roebling both have the distinction of being the first human and non-human beings to cross the Brooklyn Bridge.
Yeah, they both spanned the entire length of the bridge at the same time while riding in a fancy-schmancy carriage about a week before the Brooklyn Bridge first opened to the public.
At the time, the rooster happened to be sitting in Emily’s lap since it was considered to be a symbol of good luck.
And that’s fine by me as long as it doesn’t poop all over me. Because guess what? That shizz is nasty.
4. 21 Elephants Walked Across the Brooklyn Bridge in 1884
No trip to NYC would complete without an idyllic walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
After all, this is easily one of the BEST things to do in Lower Manhattan.
However, one of the more interesting facts about NYC is that in ye olde 1884, no less than 21 elephants thundered across this iconic bridge!
See, this was all part of a slightly bizarre campaign to prove to the residents of NYC that the city’s newest bridge was totally safe to cross.
Yeah, NYC was apparently an oasis of sorts for trained elephants in the 1880s. You know, because of P.T. Barnum’s famous circus and all.
So, city officials called upon this intrepid showman to parade 21 of his finest pachyderms across the Brooklyn Bridge in May of 1884. You know, just to see how sturdy it realy was.
And as the old saying goes, the rest was history.
5. NYC’s Immortal Yellow Cabs were Once Red and Green!
Is there anything more iconic than those snazzy little yellow cabs that you see zooming through the streets of New York?
You know, the ones that are ridiculously overpriced, that will run you over sooner than look at you, and that smell like a weird mix of air fresheners and regurgitated falafels?
Well, believe it or not, the first cabs in New York City were actually yellow and green!
Shocking but true since the first gas-powered cab company in NYC was founded in 1907 and apparently favored cars with a red and green design.
Umm, hi, Christmas much?
Anyway, yellow cabs were originally more of the “it” thing in other cities throughout the USA until the color was unofficially adopted by NYC in 1912.
Apparently, the man who started the aptly named, “Yellow Cab Company” first made them yellow after he read that yellow was the easiest color for people to spot.
See, now you know!
6. Staten Island Tried to Secede from NYC!
Are you totally surprised by this interesting fact about NYC? Because I 100% am. I was also intrigued to learn that this happened relatively recently too.
Like in the 1980s recent since Staten Island residents (and officials) were more than a little annoyed that they didn’t have adequate representation in the City Council.
Apparently, they were disgruntled by high taxes, poor public transportation, and the enormous amount of city waste that was routinely being thrown in the local garbage dump (I can’t really blame them TBH).
And like the old adage goes. “No taxation without representation”!
Anyway, Staten Island natives were so perturbed that local politicians began an ardent campaign for secession from New York City so that they could form the independent city of Staten Island.
Welp, needless to say. the campaign was officially rejected in 1993. Something that is kind of ridiculous when you understand that the vote to secede from NYC passed!
Yup, residents and officials were totally all for it.
I guess the New York State Assembly just didn’t like the outcome of the vote and decided to ignore it, which is why Staten Island is still part of NYC today.
7. Until the 1920s, everyone in NYC moved from their Apartment on the SAME day!
This is one of those interesting facts about NYC that totally blew me away.
I mean really. New York City is crowded enough. I legit cannot even imagine trying to move out of my apartment on the same day as 10,000 other people.
But, that’s apparently what they did up until the 1920s since moving day in NYC was officially May 1st.
Now, I checked with my good friend Google on this and we can thank the Dutch for this tradition since they liked to celebrate their May 1st arrival in Manhattan by swapping houses throughout that glorious day.
FYI, landlords were also eventually required to notify tenants of any looming rent increases by February 1st so that they could make plans to move out three months later – at least if they wanted to.
Honestly, I don’t really get the whole tradition but I’m also not Dutch. So yeah, whatever floats your boat.
Anyway, as you might have already surmised, as the city’s population grew, so too did the chaos associated with this tradition.
Therefore, if you’re imagining traffic jams, moving van chaos, and damaged furniture all over the place then you’d be 100% correct – which is why we eventually said a fond farewell to this antiquated tradition during the roaring 20s.
8. A Slice of NY Pizza and a Single Ride on the Subway Usually cost the same thing
This is one of those interesting facts about NYC that dates back to the 1980s.
And while it can sometimes vary depending on what pizza place you frequent, in general, a standard slice of NY style pizza will cost about as much as a single ride on the subway.
But wait, because it gets even weirder.
Because when one goes up, usually the price of the other will go up within a few months.
Yes, my friend. Welcome to the twilight zone.
9. The Brooklyn Bridge is OLDER than Tower Bridge in London!
I know. This is one of those interesting facts about NYC that I find hard to believe but it’s still totally true.
Because Tower Bridge? It was officially completed on June 21, 1886.
And the Brooklyn Bridge? It was started in 1869, encountered a ton of issues during construction, and wasn’t finished until 1883…a full THREE years before Tower Bridge was finally completed.
So yeah, take that nugget of knowledge with you and go win Who Want to be a Millionaire like a boss.
10. It’s Illegal to Have a Puppet Show in Your Window
Yeah, there are a bunch of wweird laws like this in New York City.
However, although it may be weird, it is 100% true since Section 10-114 of the city administrative code specifically forbids the use of “any window … any performance of puppet or other figures.”
And the punishment for this awful crime? 100 days in the stocks after getting flogged by a goat?
Nope. You could spend up to 30 days in jail and incur a $25 fine. Clearly people were not a fan of puppets back in the day (I can’t blame them. Puppets remind me of Chucky, Blech)!
FYI, some other weird laws in NYC are:
- You can’t take a selfie with a tiger (There’s a $500 fine since a lot of guys were doing this for Tinder)
- You can’t sell dog or cat hair
- You can’t walk around on Sundays with an ice cream cone in your pocket
- Two or more people cannot congregate in public while wearing masks
- Adultery is illegal (The law was passed in 1907 and is a class B misdemeanor that can be punished with a $500 fine or up to 90 days in jail).
- It’s illegal to Honk your Horn in NYC unless it’s an emergency (You can get a $350 fine for excessive use of your horn or for a rogue car alarm going off).
- It’s also NOT illegal to go topless. Yeah, we’ve never been super conservative people when it comes to fashion.
11. New York City was the FIRST capital of the United States
Although Washington DC is the current capital of the United States, that didn’t actually happen until July 16, 1790.
Before then though, New York City basically became the de facto capital of the country as of 1784 since the US’s legislature was based here and started operating under the Articles of Confederation.
Later, the Residence Act of July 16, 1790, officially moved the capital to its current location in an effort to appease pro-slavery states who felt that a northern capital was too sympathetic to abolitionists.
However, the construction of Washington DC wasn’t actually completed until 1800.
Therefore, Philadelphia served as the country’s interim capital between 1790 and 1800.
12. The Mall is the only Straight Path in Central Park
Another one of those crazy interesting facts about NYC.
But yeah. when architects Calvert and Vaux first designed this enormous park, they wanted to make it feel like a beautiful, natural landscape that was filled with a wealth of different twists and turns.
As such, they intentionally created one solitary path through the park – a thoroughfare that is commonly known as, “the mall”.
Originally known as the Promenade, it’s a short but wide quarter-mile-long pedestrian walkway that runs between 66th street and 72nd street.
It’s also one of the best photo spots up in NYC since it is picturesque AF (there are four rows of American Elms on either side that are some of the last of their kind in North America) and is especially beautiful throughout the fall, when the trees come alive with colors of every variety.
This path is also supremely wide because it was a cool, “it place” where all the beyond rich folks could go to walk around and show off their Sunday best (and their ridiculous amount of wealth).
Yup. You know they were totally strutting around like glorified peacocks and would have absolutely taken 10,000 duck face selfies if they could have.
Interesting Facts about NYC
13. A Baby is Born in NYC Every 4.4 Minutes!
No wonder the city is densely populated and crowded like whoa.
Although, I kind of wonder what this stat will be about nine months after the quarantine has ended.
14. NYC’s Oldest Building dates ALL the Way Back to 1642!
This is one of those facts about NYC that is especially insane when you consider the idea that most “old” buildings in the United States really only date back to the 1700s…at best!
However, the Wyckoff Farm in Brooklyn features structures that date all the way back to…you guessed it…1642.
Yup. Apparently the land the building sits on was first purchased by Wouter van Twiller purchased from the local Lenape people in 1636.
The farm and its associated buildings were then later constructed by a former indentured servant, whose family (the Wyckoff family) later stayed on the property until 1901.
Eventually, the area was purchased by the city, became an official NYC landmark in 1965, and is now a historical museum (The Wyckoff House Museum) about Dutch heritage that you visit in Milton Fidler Park.
So, if you want to check out one of the most unusual things to do in New York City, then visit this historic home at 5816 Clarendon Road today!
15. More than 800 Different Languages are Spoken in New York City!
We all know that NYC is a melting pot of different cultures, beliefs, and religions.
I mean, hello? It’s home to no less than the United Nations itself. So, really, how more diverse can you get?
Plus, no less than Alicia Keys herself actually refers to the city as a melting pot in her song Empire State of Mind!
And here are the words, just in case you need a little reminder.
“On the avenue, there ain’t never a curfew, ladies work so hard
Such a melting pot, on the corner selling rock, preachers pray to God.”
Iconic lyrics that are totally spot on since more than 37% of New Yorkers are originally born in another country.
Therefore, it really should come as no surprise that the 8.4 million residents of NYC speak well over 800 different languages – some of which, like Quechua or Garifuna, appear to be dying out in other parts of the world.
Not gonna lie though. In spite of NYC’s notorious diversity, I was still totally blown away by this – one of the most interesting facts about NYC.
16. The New York Public Library is Home to 50+ Million Books
So you know what that means right?
It’s actually the second largest library in the United States (after the Library of Congress) and the third largest library in the world (Library of Congress is the biggest followed by the British Library).
Therefore, be sure to swing by as part of any 4 day New York itinerary and see all these amazing books for yourself.
While you’re here, you can also:
- Say hi to the marble lions out front (aka Patience and Fortitude)
- Snag some killer photos in the Rose Main Reading Room
- Join a free guided tour which departs from Astor Hall
- Marvel at the 431,000 maps and 16,000 atlases in the aptly named Map Divison
- Visit the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room and see an original copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Gutenberg Bible.
Yup. Feel free to “oh” and “ah” at will.
17. NYC has the Highest Population Density of Any City in the US
Again, another not-so-surprising fact about NYC.
I mean, ride the subway during rush hour just once and you’ll quickly understand why NYC has the highest population density of any city in the US.
But, if you’re looking for some cold, hard numbers here then you’ll be interested to know that NYC has about 27,000 residents per square mile.
That’s why New York City easily accounts for over 40% of New York State’s total population.
That’s also why we inevitably go blue for basically every election ever. And I for one am totally okay with that.
And, guess what? If the entire world was this densely populated, you could fit the world’s entire population into an area the size of Texas.
18. The First Pizza Place in America Opened Here in 1905
Honestly, this is one of those interesting facts about NYC that I don’t personally find all that shocking.
Especially since New York City is home to THE best pizza in the world.
Yup, I said it and I’m totally sticking to it. I mean, I’ve sampled pizza in a bunch of different places (yes Italy, I’m looking at you) and an iconic slice of New York pizza totally blows them all out of the water.
And that makes sense when you realize that Italian immigrants first brought this thin slice of cheesy goodness to New York City in 1905.
Yup. It was a little place called Lombardi’s that is still in existence today!
So, head down to this iconic NoLita pizzeria and see what all the fuss is about today!
And FYI, their coal-fired, thin-crust Neapolitan pizza is pretty dang awesome with a capital “A”.
19. It Would Take You 24 Hours to Travel the Length of the NYC Subway
It’s no secret that the NYC subway system totally puts the ass back in massive. I mean, after all, it is the single largest subway system in the world.
So yeah, it’s hella big and sometimes mildly confusing to navigate, which is why I created this easy-to-use subway guide for you here.
Because in total, NYC’s giant subway system is composed of 34 different lines, 469 stops, covers a distance of 245 miles (with around 722 miles of track), and extends into four different boroughs (Staten Island is the only borough with no subway system).
Therefore, it would take you AT LEAST 24 hours to traverse the entire thing. And that’s if you’re rushing since the world record holder was able to travel to every single subway station in approximately 21 hours and 49 minutes.
So yeah, clearly you’ve got some new life goals, don’t ya?
20. The Bronx was Named for Its First European Settler
Ever wonder how the boogie down Bronx got its name?
Well, even if you haven’t it’s still interesting to learn that one of NYC’s most iconic boroughs was actually named for its very first European settler.
Yeah, the informational Gods over at Google have informed me that the term “the Bronx” initially came from a Swedish man by the name of Jonas Bronck who moved to the American colonies in 1639.
Upon his arrival, he established the very first farm in the area, which was about 500 acres in size and often referred to as “Bronck’s Land”.
And the nearby river? Yeah, it was more commonly known as “Bronck’s River” which is why people eventually started referring to the entire region as the Bronx – a place that is home to the, you guessed it, Bronx River.
21. The Statue of Liberty was Sent to NYC in 350 pieces!
We all know and love the gorgeousness that is the Statue of Liberty.
I mean, it’s a total New York City icon and a beautiful, 305-foot tall structure that was first built by French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi (with help from Richard Morris Hunt) between 1876 and 1886.
Apparently, the French wanted to commemorate the alliance that the country had once had with the US during the American Revolution, in the eternal hope (among French liberals) the democracy would prevail here, in addition to freedom and justice for all.
However, to actually get the ginormous statue here, local workers first deconstructed the structure into 350 different pieces that were then placed into 214 separate crates – contained that finally arrived in NYC in 1885.
What, want some more totally interesting facts about NYC?
Well, the arm of the Statue of Liberty first arrived in 1876 and was later put on public display at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.
You know, to help raise money so that builders could actually complete the entire construction project without going broke.
Because while some things may change, the one thing that never does is the importance of money. LOL.
22. Albert Einstein’s Eyeballs are Kept Inside a Safety Deposit Box in NYC
Everyone knows about Albert Einstein – the famous German-born genius/theoretical physicist who developed the Theory of Relativity (E= mc2).
But what you may not know is that upon his death in April of 1955, he was cut up into itty bitty pieces so that people could study him and figure out why the hell he was so damn smart.
Apparently, an illegal autopsy was performed on the deceased physicist by pathologist Thomas Harvey in Princeton Hospital (he later got a retroactive blessing for the procedure from Einstein’s son Hans).
Afterward, Harvey preserved Einstein’s brain (against the famous physicist’s wishes), divided it into between 170 and 200 different parts. cut out his eyeballs, and then sent them to Einstein’s former eye doctor, Henry Abrams.
Eventually, the eyeballs ended up in Abrams safety deposit box in NYC, where they remain to this very day.
And Einstein’s brain? Well, you can now see it on display at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, in addition to George Washington’s tooth in Fraunces Tavern and Napolean’s penis in a non-descript basement in New Jersey.
23. If Brooklyn was a City, it Would be the Fourth-Largest City in the United States!
Bananas level crazy right?
I mean, it’s kind of mind-boggling to think that just one of NYC’s FIVE boroughs is THIS big.
It’s also bigger than Manhattan in terms of its size and number of residents since Brooklyn has roughly 2.6 million residents (Manhattan has about 1.6 million) and covers 71 square miles (Manhattan only occupies 23 square miles of land).
And if you liked this fun factoid, you’ll also be delighted to know that:
- Brooklyn has 30 miles of shoreline
- Brooklyn is ON Long Island but isn’t considered part of Long Island
- It was first colonized by the Dutch in the early 1600s and was commonly referred to as, “Breuckelen” or “broken land” in English.
- A Bomb Shelter from the Cold War was found on the Brooklyn Bridge in 2006. Inside there were 350,000 crackers as well as medical supplies, paper blankets, and drums full of water.
- The median age of a Brooklyn resident is 34.7.
- Brooklyn’s famous Cyclone Roller Coaster was opened on June 26, 1927, and is a little over 93 years old!
Manhattan Fun Facts
24. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York Holds Some of the Largest Amounts of Gold in the World!
Founded in 1924, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is just one of twelve regional banks in the United States’ central banking system and is housed inside a 22-story building at 33 Liberty Street.
As such, it features a gold vault in the basement (80 feet below street level) that stores about 7,000 tons of gold bricks at any given time – gold that is safely kept here at no cost to account holders.
And guess what? Each of those gold bricks is worth about $640,000, for a grand total of $250 billion worth of gold stored here.
So, excuse me while I emphatically proclaim, “Holy Hannah Batman! That’s A LOT of gold!”
***PSST…if you’re really fascinated by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, you can actually take a free, hour-long guided tour of the facility! You’ll just have to pass through a ton of security first but can book a tour Monday through Friday at either 1:00 pm or 2:00 pm. Just not on bank holidays though, obviously.***
25. The Empire State Building Gets Hit by Lightning 23 Times a Year
Well, I guess what they say in Grease really is true. Yup…it’s electrifying!
Some other fun facts about the Empire State Building are that:
- It was completed in just 20 months as part of a race to build the world’s tallest building
- Its upper tower was designed as a docking station for airships
- A B-25 Bomber crashed into in 1945.
- A woman survived a 75-story drop in one of the building’s elevators
- A few people have parachuted off of the building’s observation deck
- A giant inflatable King Kong was affixed to the building to commemorate the film’s 50th anniversary.
- The Empire State Building has its own zip code, 10018.
26. Everyone Knows about the Highline…But Have you Heard of the Lowline?
I know this is one of those interesting facts about NYC that sounds totally made up.
But I DOUBLE pinkie promise that is 100% true.
It will also be a totally awesome place to visit (once completed) since most locals don’t actually know the Lowline exists.
However, before I get beyond excitied and start speaking in ALL CAPS FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, let me first slow my roll and explain what the Lowline actually is.
So, the Lowline is a one-acre park that is under construction in the LES (Lower East Side) neighborhood of Manhattan.
Once completed, it will be the world’s FIRST underground park since architects have used solar power to illuminate and grow a wealth of different pllants all along the former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal.
Therefore, definitely plan a visit once this pandemic mess is behind us and everything is open and ready to go.
27. Grand Central Terminal Actually has a Whispering Gallery!
Grand Central Terminal itself is NOT a secret.
But, one of the many interesting facts about NYC is that Grand Central Terminal is home to a Whispering Gallery.
A nifty little arched entranceway near the Dining Concourse (just outside the Oyster Bar) where you can go with a loved one, stand diagonally across from one another, speak into the wall, and actually hear what the other person’s saying!
Yeah, it’s pretty rad indeed.
Other fun facts about Grand Central are that:
- It’s the largest train station in the world (by number of platforms and area occupied)! It occupies 49 acres, is home to 44 platforms, and has 67 different tracks.
- 750,000 people pass-through this train station every single day.
- No trains pass through the station. They either depart from or arrive here.
- It’s home to 10 different chandeliers that hold 110 different lightbulbs each.
- Along the exterior of the building, on 42nd street, you’ll find the world’s largest Tiffany glass clock.
- You can actually play tennis in the Vanderbilt Tennis Club on the 4th Floor (at least if you want to spend between $90 and $260 per hour to rent the court).
- Stop by the Campbell while you’re here (a secret 20s era, speakeasy bar in Grand Central).
28. Cowboys Used to Patrol Along 10th Avenue in Manhattan!
Like most of us out there, when I hear the word “cowboy”, my mind immediately conjures up images of cowboys doing a bit of cattle rustling and some hardcore drinking in the saloons and brothels of the wild wild west (that was a terrible movie btw).
However, when we collectively picture the “west”, I think it’s safe to say that most of us are not imagining the west side of Manhattan.
But between 1850 and 1941, 10th avenue actually had it’s very own little posse of cowboys. They would basically ride out in front of freight trains and escort them through the middle of the city – fervently warming people to stay out of the way so that they wouldn’t get run over by a rogue caboose (I just like writing that word because I have the maturity of a five-year-old).
So yeah, just another one of those Manhattan fun facts that will help you win a wicked awesome game of Trivial Pursuit.
29. Times Square was named after the New York Times!
Initially, Times Square was actually known as Longacre Square.
Yeah, that name definitely has a Greenacres vibe to it.
However, once the New York Times moved into the area in 1904, everyone started referring to it as Times Square.
And, welp, you know exactly what happened after that.
Because just a few years later, in 1907, the first New Years’ Eve Ball drop was held here – making Times square an internationally known NYC landmark.
30. New Yorkers Bite 10 times more People than Sharks do Worldwide Each Year
Honestly? This is one of those interesting facts about NYC that doesn’t really surprise me since, well, us New Yorkers?
We’re a beyond feisty people who like to take a big BITE out of crime. Or take a BITE out of the Big Apple.
Okay, okay. I’ll stop with the beyond lame puns now.
FYI though, the ice cream cone, Eggs Benedict Eggs, and Pasta Primavera were ALL invented in NYC.
Therefore, please excuse me while I go off and burst into a rousing rendition of, “These are a few of my favorite things…”
New York City Facts for Kids
31. 8.4 Million People Live in New York City!
Currently, roughly 8.4 million people live in New York City. Super snazzy people who are not-so-quietly living their lives throughout the five boroughs of Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.
So, that means that approximately one out of every 38 Americans lives in New York City.
Yeah, let that fun factoid sink in for a hot minute.
32. The Average Cost of Rent is $3500 per Month
Yup, clearly you need to be more than a little wealthy to live in NYC.
And you know what? That isn’t really an issue since New York City is home to the largest number of billionaires in the world!
There are also more than 380,000 millionaires living in NYC too!
So yeah, dream big my friend. Dream big.
Plus, added bonus? If you’re an uber-fab NYC homeowner, you can actually request that someone plant a tree right outside your home.
But the best part? They’ll do it for free!
Just another one of the many perks of living in New York City.
33. People Used to Walk Across the Water from Staten Island to Manhattan
Okay, this is one of those interesting facts about NYC that needs a bit of explanation since it’s not like NYC had a living reincarnation of JC Superstar.
So, in the winter of 1780, NYC got REALLY cold – frigid enough for all of New York Harbor to freeze over.
Therefore, people were able to walk (or expertly ice skate) across the ice from Staten Island to Manhattan.
And as a result, this is now one of the strangest facts about New York City that no longer seems so strange.
34. The name Manhattan came from the Indigenous People Who Used to Live Here!
Before Europeans “discovered” the modern-day island of Manhattan, the Lenape and Canarsees people actually lived here.
They had been in the area for thousands of years prior to European settlement and had developed the name “Manhattan” from the local Munsee Lenape language.
If you break the word down into pieces, “manah” means “gather”, “aht” means “bow”, and “aan”, well, that’s just a technical bit of the word that is there to make everything grammatically correct.
So, Manhattan basically means “gathering bows” in English and can be seen on a map from 1610 that refers to the area as “Manna-hata” on either side of the Mauritius River (currently the Hudson River).
35. The Island of Manhattan was Purchased for just $24!
Yup! This is one of those weird facts about New York City that is actually true!
See, back in 1626, the Dutch East India Company wanted to legitimize their claims to New York (called New Amsterdam at the time).
To achieve this goal, they asked ultra-snazzy governor Peter Minuit to strike up a deal with the local people who currently lived there – a tribe that was known as the Manhattans and that was of Algonquian linguistic origin.
And good old Peter did just that. He “purchased” the island of Manhattan for $24 worth of trinkets or, as source documents state, “60 guilders worth of trade,”
Yeah, I honestly have no idea what that last bit means. But, what I do know is that $24 was worth about $1,143 in today’s currency. So, obviously it was a sweet, sweet deal.
36. The First European Explorer to “Discover” New York was Giovanni da Verrazano
If you’ve ever heard of the Verrazano Bridge then now you know exactly where that name came from.
Because Giovannia da Verrazano? Well, he was an Italian-born explorer who was employed by the French. Eventually, he found his way to New York in 1524 while he was looking for a route to Asia.
Apparently he didn’t really do much exploring though since he basically just came here, sailed around, and biz-ounced.
Yeah, good old Henry Hudson was more of the explorer type. He was an Englishman who was employed by the Dutch.
He arrived in 1609 at New York Bay and sailed up through the Hudson River, which (not surprisingly) now bears his name.
37. The United Nations Headquarters is in New York City
This is one of those less interesting facts about NYC since I think this one bit of trivia is definitely more well known.
However, some kids out there might not realize this so I’m totally adding it to the list!
Anyway, believe it or not, NYC has actually been the UN headquarters since the building was first completed in 1952. It sits on picturesque Turtle Bay, amidst a sweeping natural landscape that overlooks the East River.
In total, the UN has 195 member nation-states, 118 of which have embassies in NYC.
And if you want to visit the UN for yourself, you can book a one-hour guided tour of the facility (Monday through Friday between 9:00 am and 4:45 pm) and learn all about the history of the UN, understand the work they do, visit the famous General Assembly Hall, and see the Security Council Chamber.
38. New York was named for the Duke of York
As I stated earlier, New York was originally colonized by the Dutch, who later named the area the New Netherland territory.
However, once the English took control of the area in 1664, the city was named in honor of the Duke of York, who would later become King James II of England.
Yeah, the Duke of York initially became proprietor of the region, which included the city of New Amsterdam, when his older brother, King Charles II, gave the position to him.
And because the city was no longer under Duitch control, the English eventually renamed the state (and city) in honor of the then, Duke of York.
And tada…New York as we know it was born.
39. New York City is home to the largest population of Jewish people outside of Israel.
Crazy right? But totally true since roughly 1.1 million Jewish people live in New York City and about 2 million live in the greater state of New York
As a result, NYC’s enormous community of Jewish citizens makes up about 13% of the city’s total population and is easily the single largest population of Jewish people outside of Israel.
But wait, because NYC’s epic diversity doesn’t end there.
Yeah. New York City is also home to the largest population of Chinese people outside of Asia and the largest population of Puerto Rican people of any city in the world.
Therefore, NYC really does put the “D” back in diversity. Hollah!
40. New York City’s Drinking Water is Unfiltered and Teeming with Tiny Little Copepods (Don’t worry. They can’t hurt you)
Not gonna lie, this is one of those interesting facts about NYC that totally surprised me because I really thought NYC’s drinking water was filtered.
But surprise! It’s not and is teeming with tiny little crustaceans known as copepods.
Don’t worry though, they’re relatively benign and can’t really hurt you. Although, I’d definitely recommend using a portable water filter to purify any water that you drink from a faucet.
Yeah, NYC has the distinguished honor of being home to the single largest unfiltered water system in the country.
And they’re gonna keep it that way since it would cost the city government more than $1 million per day to run a filtration plant here.
Therefore, filter-free the way to be when you up in NYC. JK. Definitely filter your water.
Even MORE Interesting Facts about NYC
- Oysters used to be so popular here in the 19th century that their shells were actually used to pave Pearl Street. Hence the slightly unoriginal name of this iconic road.
- A local gold digger actually walks around the streets of New York. mines sidewalk cracks for gold, and alledges to make a solid $600 a week in profits.
- Package delivery services in NYC (UPS, FedEx, etc.) collectively get about 7,000 parking tickets a day. Fines that add up to $120 million in revenue.
- Hog Island was a one-mile-long island that once sat off the coast of Rockaway Beach. It was later totally destroyed by a hurricane in 1893.
- McSorley’s, one of the oldest running bars in NYC and first allowed women in their establishment in 1970.
- New York City has a 520-mile long coastline that is longer than the coasts of Miami, Boston, LA, and San Francisco combined.
- New York City will pay for a homeless person’s one-way transportation ticket if they can provide proof that they have a place to stay.
- There are more graduate and undergraduate students in NYC than there are people in Boston.
- There used to be a secret train platform in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
- A permit for a hot dog stand in New York City costs a vendor $289,000 per year!
- The West Village house at 75 1/2 Bedford Street is the narrowest residence in NYC and is just over 9 feet wide.
- New York City gets 15 times as much snow as the South Pole.
Well, my dear reader, I think that just about concludes this insanely long post – a piece of blogerific-ness that details 50+ interesting facts about NYC.
Yes, only I could someone manage to yammer on for a solid 6,500+ words about New York trivia.
But alas, I guess that’s just something you should expect from the likes of me by now.
Anyway, I hope you found this post more than a little fascinating and feel inclined to pin it now so that you can read it again later.
Come on, you know you want to!