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25 things you didn’t know about New York

Everyone loves a good fact and New York has got such a long, diverse and interesting history that I’ve put together my favourite facts that you didn’t know about New York. At the very least, you’ll retain a few of them and be able to contribute to the pub quiz ;)

1) New York City was the first capital city of the USA. In 1789 George Washington took his oath as president on the balcony at Federal Hall.

2) The name “Big Apple” was coined in horse racing. Fitz Gerald first used it in a 1921 article for the New York Morning Telegraph. He heard the term around the stables of New Orleans from guys who aspired to race on the big New York City tracks.

3) New York has one of the lowest big-city crime rates in America. Not bad for a city where there are more than 26,000 people living in each square mile!

4) The New York Post is the oldest running newspaper in the United States. It was established in 1803 by Alexander Hamilton.

5) The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France. The statue is an icon of freedom and democracy.

6) Subway musicians have to audition in New York City. With over 4.3 million people riding the subway system every day, the earning potential of a subway musician is substantial. Even artists that have performed at famous NYC concert venue, Carnegie Hall have auditioned for their permit.

7) Elephants were used to convince the public that the Brooklyn Bridge was safe. Although structurally sound, people were initially frightened to go over the bridge in fear of it collapsing. So P.T. Barnum led 21 elephants, including the infamous Jumbo across the bridge in May 1884 after it’s completion in 1883.

8) There is a dirty tile left on the ceiling of Grand Central Station. When the ceiling of the main concourse was restored in 1994-98, a patch was left untouched to show just how filthy it had been.

9)  The Lions in front of the Public Library have names. Patience and Fortitude are the two Lions that guard the entrance to the massive archives.

10) 40% of the subway system is above ground. And with over 840 miles of track I bet it gets a tad noisy for local residents, but hey New Yorkers gotta get around!

11) About 1 in every 38 people living in the United States resides in New York City.

12) The Empire State Building was originally designed to dock airships. This was until the Hinderburg Disaster when all airships traffic was suspended.

13) The deepest station on the subway system is on 191st Street in Manhattan. At an incredible 180 feet below street level.

14) There is a “secret” Whispering Gallery at Grand Central Station. Walk around Grand Central Station until you find the Oyster Bar Restaurant and you’ll find a small cove with four archways and some people that look like they’re talking to the walls (!). They’re actually whispering into the corner and their buddy can hear it from the opposite archway. It’s really weird as the person from the other archway sounds like they are right next to you!

15) There’s a wind tunnel by the Flat Iron Building. In the early twentieth century, men would hang out on the corner here on Twenty-third Street and watch the wind blowing women’s dresses up so that they could catch a little bit of ankle! This entered into popular culture and hundreds of postcards and illustrations of women with their dresses blowing up in front of the Flatiron Building were printed.

16) The Empire State Building has its own zip code. And for good reason! The building houses 1,000 businesses and as of 2007, had approximately 21,000 employees coming to work every day.

17) On November 28th 2012, not a single violent crime or incident were reported in NYC for an entire day. Amazing for a city with 26,000 people living in each square mile!

18) There is a secret train platform in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. There’s an underground railroad that runs from Grand Central Terminal to the fourth floor of the Waldorf’s basement. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the sitting president, this was how they would bring him in because many people didn’t know he was in a wheelchair.

19) Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, and Bryant Park used to be cemeteries. Creepy!

20) The winter of 1780 was so harsh in New York that New York Harbor froze over. People could walk from Manhattan to Staten Island on the ice.

21) Eating a New York bagel is equivalent to eating one-quarter to one-half a loaf of bread. That’s a lot of bread!

22) Wall Street isn’t named for the strong financial connection. Wall Street actually earned its name in the 17th century, when the Dutch built a wall to protect themselves from attacks by pirates and Native Americans.

23) Ellis Island closed in 1954. After admitting millions of immigrants from 1892 to when it officially closed its doors on 12th November, New York’s Ellis Island processed more than 12 million immigrants coming to the U.S.

24) Kodak Cameras, Toilet Paper and Yale Locks were invented in New York. Other inventions include, Tuxedos, Teddy Bears and Traffic Lights!

25) New York was named after England’s Duke of York. After the English took over the colony in 1664 during the second Anglo-Dutch War they changed the name of the city from Nieuw Amsterdam to New York, in honour of the Duke of York, who later became King James II. The Dutch surrendered without fighting (allegedly).

Do you know any other interesting yet random facts about New York? Comment Below!

Mel x

About the author

Hi, I’m Mel! The adventure-seeking vegan travel blogger behind Footsteps on the Globe. On this blog you'll find my latest adventures, travel inspiration as well as tips and tricks on how to be vegan around the world. You don’t have to give up being vegan to follow your travel dreams and I’m here to show you how!