25 Interesting (and Odd) New York Facts

New York City Skyline

New York City!

I was born, raised, and plan on living the rest of my life in the city that I love called New York. Now while I may reside on the other side of that 126 year old bridge in Brooklyn, I still consider myself simply a “Noo Yawka.” Growing up in this city has always made everyday life interesting and full of unexpected surprises.

I still come across new things to do each week in the five boroughs. You could probably eat out every night for 10 years and still not claim to have tried every restaurant in New York. Because by the time you got close, new ones would be popping up left and right.

I could assist you with finding a great Greek restaurant in Astoria, give you advice on what beaches are perfect for a day in the sun and what beaches are just plain nasty, map out the best Irish pubs to down a few pints in The Bronx, point you in the direction of the best pie or slice in Brooklyn (that is pizza for you people outside the area), and tell you why you should not waste your time going over the Verrazano Bridge (hint: Staten Island and New Jersey are on the other side).

But when I came across some interesting New York facts, I felt compelled sharing them with you. I am a big fan of my city and love reading, watching and hearing about its history. So check out this small sampling of interesting NY tidbits. If you have some to share feel free to leave a comment.

1. Now while the skyline of New York today is filled with enormous buildings that scrape the sky, way back in the 1660s NYC’s view was dominated by a two-story-high windmill.

2. So why is it called Wall Street? It has nothing to do with those greedy pigs in the financial field, instead way back when the Dutch ruled this area Wall Street was the city limit and there was an actual wall built there.

3. Why are the NYC taxi cabs yellow? Because American businessman John Hertz, the same Hertz that we rent cars from today, read a study that said yellow was the easiest color for the eye to spot. Makes sense.

4. The Outerbridge Crossing, which is a small bridge that connects New Jersey and Staten Island, is actually named after Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge. Many locals still think that it is just some name for an “outer-bridge”…whatever that is.

5. Manhattan’s Chinatown has the largest collection of Chinese residents in the Western Hemisphere.

6. More than 25% of the world’s gold is located 80 feet beneath the Federal Reserve Bank on Wall Street.

7. Cleopatra’s Needle, which is a 3,000-year-old Egyptian ruin, can be located in Central Park. The Khedive of Egypt gave it to New York City as a gift in 1879. It took almost 10 years to transport the 220-ton, 66-foot-high monument.

8. For many years, the “tallest building in the world” title changed hands nearly 10 times, but one thing remained the same…they were all located in New York! The Empire State Building held onto that title for 42 years, until it was finally overtaken by One World Trade Center in 1973. After the attacks of 9/11, the Empire State Building regained the title of tallest building in New York.

9. Want to major in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing? Well then move to NYC and enroll at the Fashion Institute of Technology. It is the only school in the world that offers this unique degree.

10. New York City has 722 miles of subway tracks…and counting.

11. Did you know that the New York Post is the oldest newspaper in the United States? It was founded by none other than “Mr. $10 bill” Alexander Hamilton. Do you think that the first US Secretary of the Treasury would have imagined his creation would be around more than 200 years later and turned into a sleaze-filled tabloid with a sports section and crossword puzzle?

12. The first American pizzeria opened way back in 1895 and was owned by New Yorker Gennaro Lombardi.

13. You like toilet paper? Yup it was invented in New York City by Joseph Gayetty in 1857.

14. New York was the first state in the country to make  it mandatory that all cars drive with license plates.

15. Drink up! The first American brewery was founded by Peter Minuit in lower Manhattan. However Minuit was born in Germany. But still…

16. A park larger than the size of Central Park is currently being created in Staten Island on the former site of a temporary landfill.

17. Speaking of Staten Island, up until 1975 it was officially named the Borough of Richmond.

18. Nearly half – 38% – of all Brooklyn residents were born in a foreign country.

19. Manhattan is the most densely populated county in the United States. The runner up is Brooklyn.

20. No Main Street in Manhattan? That is a fact…but you can walk down Main Street in The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn.

21. Before it was called Broadway, that piece of Manhattan was an old Algonquin trading  route called the Wiechquaekeck Trail.

22. The Bronx is the only New York borough connected to the mainland.

23. The fourth longest boardwalk in the world can be found in Staten Island. It stretches 2.5 miles long.

24. There are over 215 types of bird species in Central Park.

25. Finally…why is New York called The Big Apple? Well this has been debated by New York historians for decades. Here are two of the more popular stories behind the name. First, it was a term used by jazz musicians meaning to play the big time. Apparently there was a club in Harlem called the “Big Apple” and only the best musicians played there. The other story, which the city government has even recognized in tourism literature, states that a writer covering horse races in 1920 repeated in the ‘Morning Telegraph’ what stable hands in New Orleans referred to a trip to a NY racecourse as the “Big Apple”, or greatest reward for any thoroughbred. Either way both make for a good story and can put to rest that my city did not get its nickname from selling giant produce to locals.