45 Unbelievable Facts About New York City

December 5, 2018

Discover fun facts about New York City with our helpful guide!

The City that Never Sleeps. The Big Apple. Gotham. New York City has many nicknames. Actually, it has over 10! That’s just one of the many facts about New York City we’ll uncover as we uncover the interesting, the quirky, and the downright bizarre details of this iconic city.

street view of Times Square at night with lights in NYC, New York, USA

Facts About New York City You’ll Have to Read to Believe

1) Times Square is named after The New York Times. Originally, it was known as Longacre Square until the Times moved there in 1904. Longacre square doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

2) You probably know NYC is famous for pizza. However, did you know it’s home to the first-ever United States pizzeria? Lombardi’s opened in 1895 and still serves some of the best pizza in New York City. (Bonus fact: The price of a pizza slice and a single subway ride has remained relatively equal more than 50 years resulting in what economists call “The Pizza Principle.” Weirdly, when the price of one goes up so does the other.)

3) More than 800 languages are spoken in New York City. Yes, 800! As a result, it is the most linguistically diverse city in the world.

4) Which landmark is older? Brooklyn Bridge of the Tower Bridge in London? If you guessed the Brooklyn Bridge, you’re correct.

5) If you’ve ever been to New York City, you’ve no doubt heard a lot of cars honking their horns. However, honking your horn in NYC is actually illegal. That’s one of the facts about New York City that doesn’t’ seem true but is!

6) New York City, not Washington D.C., was the first capital of the United States of America.

7) We’ve all head the phrase “faster than a New York minute.” However, did you know there is a birth in New York City every 4.4 minutes? That’s a lot of babies!

8) It’s not illegal to go topless in New York City. Don’t worry, though, people prefer to wear their clothes here!

9) The New York City library is home to more than 50 million books. As such, it’s the third largest library in the world and the second largest in the United States behind the Library of Congress.

10) The Empire State Building gets hit by lightning around 23 times a year. Talk about electric!

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11) New York City has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, largest Chinese population outside of Asia and largest Puerto Rican population of any city in the world.

12) Going topless may be legal in New York City but farting in a church could result in a misdemeanor. This is due to a law stating a person is guilty of disruption or disturbance of a religious service, funeral, burial or memorial service “when he or she makes unreasonable noise or disturbance while at a lawfully assembled religious service, funeral, burial or memorial service, or within one hundred feet thereof, with intent to cause annoyance or alarm or recklessly creating a risk thereof.”

13) Up until the 1920s, May 1 was moving day in New York City. As such, everyone was who moving apartments in New York City had to move on this day! Can you image the chaos? This may be one of the strangest facts about New York City.

14) The Central Park Mall, which is the only straight path in Central Park, was originally designed to let wealthy New Yorkers stroll, socialize and show off their fancy duds.

15) New York City’s Federal Reserve Bank has the largest gold storage in the world. The vault, which holds more than 7,000 tons of gold bars or roughly $90 billion dollars, is 80-feet below ground.

16) You may have heard of The Highline, park located above the New York City Streets. But, have you heard of The Lowline? It’s the world’s first underground park in the world and is located on Manhattan’s West Side.

People inside Grand Central Station - NYC, New York, USA

17) Grand Central Terminal has a Whispering Gallery. Stand at opposite diagonal corners of the room to whisper to someone standing on the other side of the room.

18) The oldest building in New York City dates back to 1642. Known as Wyckoff Farm, the house, which is located in Brooklyn, is now a museum dedicated to the city’s Dutch heritage.

19) One of the oddest facts about New York City is that cowboys used to patrol the West Side of Manhattan. Why so? Well, their job was to wrangle people out of the way of freight trains in an effort to avoid accidents. Luckily, as safety measures improved, they were no longer needed and phased out by 1941.

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20) Attention birdwatchers! There’s more than just pigeons in New York City. In fact, 275 of the 800 known North American bird species have been spotted in New York’s Central Park.

21) More than 8 million people live in New York City. That means 1 in every 38 people in the United States calls this bustling city home.

daytime view of the statue of liberty with the nyc skyline in the background

22) The Statue of Liberty may be a shining symbol of America but did you know it was originally gifted to the United States by France? The gift was bestowed in 1886 for America’s centennial celebration. It was then shipped as 350 pieces in over 200 crates and took more than four months to assemble.

23) If Brooklyn was its own city, instead of a borough of New York City, it would be the fourth largest city in the United States.

24) “The Big Apple” is one of New York City’s most famous nicknames. But where did the name come from? Not a likely place, actually. It stems from a local newspaper’s horse racing column in the 1920s which used the phrase to describe a bug money price at popular horse races around the city.

25) Albert Einstein’s brain and eyeballs are kept in a safe box in New York City. Strange, sure? True, you bet!

26) In 1780, winter was so bad in New York City that New York harbor froze over. As a result, people could walk from Manhattan to Staten Island on the ice. That’s definitely one of the strangest facts about New York City!

27) If you’re a New York homeowner, you can request a tree get planted outside of your home for free. How amazing is that?!

28) New York City is home to the most billionaires in the world. And, there are more than 380,000 millionaires in the City.

29) Speaking of money, you’re going to need it if you plan on living in New York City. The average rent price is around $3500 a month.

30) New York City wouldn’t be the same without its round-the-clock fleet of yellow and black taxis. Oddly enough, though, the first gasoline-powered taxis in the City were red and green. New York City cabs didn’t adopt the yellow color until 1912.

31) Imagine this: The entire world’s population could fit in the state of Texas if it were as densely populated at New York City.

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32) The Bronx was named after Jonas Bronck, who was the first European to settle in the region in 1639. Over the years, “Bronck” changed to “Bronx” and the rest is history.

33) One of the more interesting facts about New York City is that oysters were so popular in the 19th century their shells were used to pave Pearl Street.

street view of sidewalk entrance into subway station in Manhattan in NYC, New York, USA

34) If you tried to navigate the entire NYC subway system, it would take approximately 24 hours. And, that’s if you hurry! With 34 liens and 460 stops, the system is one of the largest in the world.

35) The gold rush might have happened in San Francisco but you might be surprised to learn there’s a literal gold digger in NYC. He mines the sidewalk cracks for gold and can make over $600 a week. Pretty impressive!

36) UPS, FedEx, and other commercial delivery companies receive up to 7,000 parking tickets a day! Yikes. That results in approximately $120 million in revenue for the City.

37) A one-mile-long island called Hog Island used to exist south of Rockaway Beach. It disappeared after the hurricane of 1893.

38) McSorley’s, which is one of the oldest bars in New York City, didn’t allow women inside until 1970.

39) The iconic Empire State Building has its own zip code—10118.

40) New York City has 520 miles of coastline. That’s more than the coasts of Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco combined.

41) The City of New York will pay for a homeless person’s one-way ticket if they have a guaranteed place to stay.

42) There are more undergrad and graduate students in NYC than Boston has people.

43) There is a secret train platform in the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

44) The narrowest house in NYC is in the West Village: 75 1/2 Bedford Street is just over 9 feet wide.

45) It can cost over $289,000 for a one-year hot dog stand permit in Central Park.

Which Facts About New York City Surprised You?

After reading all 45 facts about New York City, you're in on the secrets of this world-famous city. Which one surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments!

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