Fun Facts About New York That You Probably Didn’t Know

What do you think of when you think of New York? Well, first of all, it's the setting for many major American television shows. It probably also conjures up images of busy streets, luxurious hotels, fancy restaurants, and the like.

However, it's very unlikely that you know facts about New York there are to know. As exciting as you know that this city is, there are likely many facts about New York that will shock you.

A Brief History of the State of New York

New York was one of the first 13 colonies that became the United States. Manhattan Island was first established as the colony of New Amsterdam by the Dutch in 1624.

Then, four decades later the English took over and renamed the area New York. It has played a pivotal role in American history. This is both due to its political and strategic role in the American Revolution and its role in immigration.

Between the years 1892 and 1954, there were millions of people who immigrated to the United States through New York Harbor. They passed through the very well-known Ellis Island. An estimated 40 percent of American people can trace at least one ancestor to Ellis Island.

Basic Facts about New York

Many people would consider New York one of the most interesting places to live in the United States. Of course, when people think of New York, they often think right away of New York City.

This makes sense in a way. After all, NYC is the largest city in the state of New York, not to mention the most populous city in the entire United States. It is home to the New York Stock Exchange and functions as a major international economic center.

Five boroughs compose New York City. These are Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. These are probably the most common area names you hear when people are talking about New York. However, there is a lot more to New York than just this one city. Here are some of the vital stats of this great state:

  • Date of establishment as a state: July 26, 1788
  • Population (as of 2010): 19,378,102
  • Capital: Albany
  • Tree: Sugar maple
  • State bird: Bluebird
  • State flower: Rose
  • Nicknames: Empire State, Big Apple
  • State motto: Excelsior (meaning, in English, "Ever upward")

Fun Facts About New York

an aerial view of the New York City with high buildings

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It probably doesn't surprise you that New York is a fascinating city with a vibrant history. However, there are many fun facts about New York that people don't generally know. You'll be even more interested in this city once you find out about these!

1. The "Big Apple" nickname has an unusual origin

People from all over the world know New York City as the Big Apple. However, what they are less likely to know is that the city got this name from a horse racing column in a local newspaper in the 1920s.

The phrase "Big Apple" was used at the time to denote a big monetary prize at any of many prominent horse races held all over the city. However, the city adopted the name, and since then has been known as the "Big Apple."

2. New Yorkers speak an unbelievable number of different languages

One of the facts about New York is that more than 37 percent of New Yorkers were born in a different country. Because of this, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the residents of the city speak a wide range of languages.

However, even being familiar with diversity, most people would not guess that there are 800 languages that people commonly speak in this city.

There are a few languages, such as Garifuna and Quechua, that are very rare even in their countries of origin. This makes New York City the most linguistically diverse city in the entire world, with a surprising 4 out of 10 households speaking a language other than English.

3. NY scores high on population density

lots of people in Times Square where you can notice some fun facts in the New York

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Over 40 percent of the population of the entire state of New York lives in New York City. This amounts to more than 27,000 people per square mile throughout the city.

It is the densest major city in the United States. There are a little over eight million people who live in New York City, meaning that one in every 38 people in the United States lives in this city.

4. Navigating the subway system would take a long time

People all over the world know several facts about New York, and the very involved subway system is one of them.

It has 34 lines and a whopping 469 stops. It is known as one of the largest urban mass transportation systems on the globe. If you want to travel to every single stop on this system, it will likely take approximately 24 hours.

The current world record for this is 21 hours and 49 minutes.

5. The Statue of Liberty was delivered in pieces

statue of liberty

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The arm of the Statue arrived in the United States in 1876 by itself.

Once it got there, people put it on display at the Centennial Exposition in the city of Philadelphia. It was here to raise money for the construction project. When the rest of the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City, it was almost a decade later in 1885.

The Statue came in 350 pieces, which were split up among 214 crates. It was a gift from France for the Centennial Celebration of the United States. It took four months to assemble at Ellis Island, which is where it currently resides.

6. Everyone had the same moving day before the 1920s

When you think about moving day, you probably don't have a specific date in mind, other than whenever is convenient for you or your new landlord.

However, in New York City, May 1st was moving day up until the 1920s. This was the case from colonial times up to the beginning of the 20th century.

Almost everyone who needed to move to a new apartment did so on that day. This would cause a great deal of chaos on the streets. Imagine the roads full of horse-drawn moving vans in gridlocks all over New York City!

In the 1920s, this practice started going out of style, and now modern New Yorkers can move apartments whenever they want to do so.

7. The price of a subway ride and this food item are almost always the same

entrance to Times Square 42 Street Station

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This phenomenon is quite strange, but it has held since the 1980s. In New York, the price of a ride on the subway and a slice of pizza are always approximately equal. This is so much the case that if the price of one of these goes up, the price of the other will usually go up about the same amount within a few months.

Economists have come to refer to this as the "Pizza Principle."

Of course, both the subway and pizza are major fixtures in New York. The first pizza joint in the United States opened in New York City in 1905, quickly gaining popularity. Today, there are about 1,600 pizza restaurants in NYC.

8. Brooklyn and Queens are huge boroughs... no, really

As if what you already know about the population of New York City doesn't blow your mind, consider that the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens are each big enough that either one of them would be the fourth largest city in the United States.

This means that either one of these boroughs has higher populations than every city in the United States other than New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

9. Times Square got its name in a unique way

That Times Square exists is one of the facts about New York that people all over the world know. However, not many people know that Times Square is named after the New York Times. It was originally called Longacre Square. However, the Times moved there in 1904, giving the location a new name.

10. Being topless is not illegal in New York, but this common action is!

i love New York

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It's pretty unlikely that you will see a lot of topless people walking around New York. However, it's interesting to know that being topless in public isn't illegal.

There was a Go Topless Day Parade in 2018 where people were walking around topless all over the city.

It's interesting that a city that allows people to walk around topless would not allow people to honk their car horns. Honking your car horn is illegal in New York City unless it's an emergency.

Of course, you would be hard-pressed to walk a long distance on the streets of New York City without hearing someone honking their horn, as people do it anyway all the time.

Knowing New Facts About New York is Great, Right?

inside the empire state building

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Now that you know all this great new information about New York, you're probably more eager than ever to visit. If you've never been there before, you probably want to visit for the first time to see all of these facts about New York in action!

If you have been there before, you probably want to go again to observe all of these highly interesting things that you likely never noticed. Either way, a trip to New York is in order as soon as possible.

Tell us about your experiences and adventures in New York in the comments.

Featured Image: Photo by Vlad Alexandru Popa from Pexels