60 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About New York City

Basically, you’re always walking over thousands of dead bodies.

1. Pinball was banned in the city until 1978. The NYPD even held “Prohibition-style” busts.
2. It is a misdemeanor to fart in NYC churches.
3. It costs $1 million to get a license (medallion) to operate a taxicab.
4. The first pizzeria in the United States was opened in NYC in 1895.
5. In 1857, toilet paper was invented by Joseph C. Gayetty in NYC.
6. The Jewish population in NYC is the largest in the world outside of Israel.
7. Up until World War II, everyone in the entire city who was moving apartments had to move on May 1.

8. The city of New York will pay for a one-way plane ticket for any homeless person if they have a guaranteed place to stay.
9. There’s a man who mines sidewalk cracks for gold. He can make over $600 a week.
10. According to New York City’s Office of Emergency Management, the last hurricane to pass directly over the city was in 1821. The storm surge was so high that the city was flooded up to Canal Street.
11. Hog Island, a one-mile-long island south of Rockaway Beach, was never seen again after the hurricane of 1893.
12. New York City’s leading hurricane historian, Nicholas Coch, a professor of coastal geology at Queens College, believes that this is the only reported incidence ever of the removal of an entire island by a hurricane.

13. Up until 1957, there was a pneumatic mail tube system that was used to connect 23 post offices across 27 miles. At one point, it moved 97,000 letters a day.

14. Albert Einstein’s eyeballs are stored in a safe deposit box in the city.
15. There are tiny shrimp called copepods in NYC’s drinking water.
16. On Nov. 28, 2012, not a single murder, shooting, stabbing, or other incident of violent crime in NYC was reported for an entire day. The first time in basically ever.
17. There’s a wind tunnel near the Flat Iron building that can raise women’s skirts. Men used to gather outside of the Flat Iron building to watch.

18. About 1 in every 38 people living in the United States resides in New York City.
19. New York City has more people than 39 of the 50 states in the U.S.
20. There is a birth in New York City every 4.4 minutes.
21. There is a death in New York City every 9.1 minutes.
22. The borough of Brooklyn on its own would be the fourth largest city in the United States. Queens would also rank fourth nationally.
23. New York City has the largest Chinese population of any city outside of Asia.
24. New York has the largest Puerto Rican population of any city in the world.
25. PONY stands for Product of New York.

26. In 1920, a horse-drawn carriage filled with explosives was detonated on Wall Street killing 30 people. No one was ever caught, and it is considered to be one of the first acts of domestic terrorism.
27. In nine years, Madison Square Garden’s lease will run out and it will have to move.
28. UPS, FedEx, and other commercial delivery companies receive up to 7,000 parking tickets a DAY, contributing up to $120 million in revenue for the city of New York.
29. It can cost over $289,000 for a one-year hot dog stand permit in Central Park.

The New York Times / Via nytimes.com

30. Sixty percent of cigarettes sold in NYC are illegally smuggled from other states.
31. There was one homicide on 9/11, and it remains unsolved.
32. There are “fake” buildings in the city that are used for subway maintenance and ventilation. The building below in the middle, located in Brooklyn, has a fake facade. There is no brownstone within.

33. Chernobyl is closer to New York than Fukushima is to L.A.
34. There are more undergrad and graduate students in NYC than Boston has people.
35. New York City’s 520-mile coastline is longer than those of Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco combined.
36. The Empire State building has its own zip code.
37. The East River is not a river, it’s a tidal estuary.
38. There is a secret train platform in the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Charles Mostoller / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

39. When the Dutch first arrived to Manhattan, there were massive oyster beds. In fact, Ellis Island and Liberty Island were called Little Oyster and Big Oyster Island.
40. McSorley’s, the oldest Irish ale house in NYC, didn’t allow women inside until 1970.
41. Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, and Bryant Park used to be cemeteries.
42. There are 20,000 bodies buried in Washington Square Park alone.
43. The original Penn Station was considered to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world but was torn down because of declining rail usage.

Ewing Galloway/Hulton Archive / Getty Images

44. NYC garbage collectors call maggots “disco rice.”
45. In 2010, 38% of all 911 calls in NYC were butt dials.
46. Times Square is named after the New York Times. It was originally called Longacre Square until 1904 when the NYT moved there.
47. The entire world’s population could fit in the state of Texas if it were as densely populated as New York City.
48. In 1975, the city of New York sold a private island in the East River for $10.

Courtesy of the NYC Audubon / Via tpl.org

49. 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.
50. From 1904 to 1948 there was an 18th Street station on the 4/5/6 line. It’s abandoned now, but you can still see it on local 6 trains.

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

52. In 1906, the Bronx Zoo put an African man on exhibit in the monkey house.
53. Credit card minimums ARE legal in the city. In 2010, Congress passed a law saying up to a $10 minimum was legal.
54. It would cost about $17,000 to take a cab from NYC to L.A.
55. In 1922, there was a Straw Hat Riot. It was an unofficial rule in NYC that straw hats weren’t allowed to be worn past Sept. 15, but some unruly kids started snatching people’s hats a few days before that causing an uprising that lasted a few days.
56. Eating a New York bagel is equivalent to eating one-quarter to one-half a loaf of bread.
57. NYC buries its unclaimed bodies on an island off the coast of the Bronx called Hart Island. Since 1869, nearly a million bodies have been buried there. The island is not open to the public.

58. There’s a 150-foot-deep hole (15 stories) on Park Avenue between 36th and 37th streets.
59. The price of a slice of pizza and the cost of a single ride on the subway has been nearly equal for the past 50 years.
60. The scary nitrogen gas tanks you see on the corners of streets are used to keep underground telephone wires dry.

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