14 Interesting Facts About New York City

The United States of America is home to famous cities worldwide such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York City, renowned for its numerous attractions such as the One World Trade Center and The Empire State Building.

New York City is one of the most visited and most diverse states in the United States of America, has a lot of history, secrets, and facts not known by many.

As New York City is referred to, the Big Apple has its origins dating back to 10,000 B.C, with its earliest written records penned down by Giovanni de Verrazano. He was an Italian explorer said to have discovered the New York Harbor in 1524.

With a timeline in the pre-historic, pre-colonial, and Dutch and British colonial periods, New York City has a lot to share in history and stories. From being the last city John Lennon lived in before his death, to being the birthplace of L Frank Baum, a popular author of children’s books, New York City also has housed some of history’s most admired personalities.

We have compiled all the New York facts you need to know that were not taught in History class (just kidding). Keep on reading to find out key facts that we bet you never know about!


Key Facts About New York City

Should it come as a surprise that almost every building or famous sculpture in the Big Apple has something about it that we do not know? If your answer was yes, then you are absolutely right.

Being the largest city in the United States by population, New York City equally has a vast amount of interesting facts, a lot more than could be shared in a single daily newspaper from the New York Times. From structures to people and diversity, New York never disappoints.

However, these are the key interesting facts about New York City that every New Yorker or visitor should know.

1. Times Square

Times Square in New York is one of the best advertising spaces globally and the busiest commercial intersections in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

It is also a major tourist attraction for those in the ever-bustling state of New York City.

Here are some facts about Times Square that will leave you totally surprised;

  • Times Square was known as Longacre Square, leading up to 1904. The area owes its name to the New York Times newspaper, which moved its office here in 1904.
  • From the 1960s to the ’80s, what is now known as Times Square was once a hub for adult movies, prostitution, and several unlawful substances.
  • The largest gathering of people in New York is said to be here when over two million New Yorkers gathered to celebrate the participation of the United States of America in World War 2.

2. The Empire State Building

This famous cultural landmark is located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, and is one of the tallest skyscrapers in New York.

This 102 story building is home to many corporate offices and a massive museum on the second floor.

The New York Empire State Building stands at 381 m in height and is the fourth tallest building in the United States of America today.

Here are 3 key facts about the Empire State Building which every New York state resident should know:

  • This building was constructed as part of a race for the tallest skyscraper in New York. One of its major competitors was the Chrysler Building.
  • Despite being within a city, the Empire State Building has its own zip code.
  • There is an annual Valentine’s Day draw that picks 14 lucky couples to hold their wedding on the 80th floor. These couples automatically become members of the Empire State Wedding Club.

3. The Statue of Liberty

This is one monument that will forever be synonymous with New York City for years to come.

Situated at Liberty Island in the New York Harbor, this 225-ton statue is accessible to the public by ferry.

A gift from France to the United States of America to celebrate their partnership during the American Revolution, this famous landmark has found its way into pop culture and numerous movie scenes.

Here are some facts about this giant of a sculpture worth knowing;

  • The Lady of Liberty, as she is fondly called, once served as a beacon and guide to travelers who could spot her flame in the distance.
  • The Statue of Liberty was brought to the United States in 350 pieces, as it was too large for the French to transport in one piece.
  • The Statue of Liberty has some important symbolism on it. One example is the inscription, JULY IV MDCCLXXVI, to commemorate the United States of America’s Independence.

4. New York Public Library (NYPL)

The second largest public library in the United States of America, the NYPL has served as a source of ideas, information, and knowledge for New Yorkers for more than a century.

The library caters to materials needed from toddlers to teenagers and the aged.

The NYPL boasts 92 locations with four research hubs in Manhattan, and the rest dispersed between the Bronx and Staten Island.

Here are some facts about the New York Public Library worth knowing;

  • The library lions at the entrance were renamed Patience and Fortitude in the 1930s by Mayor LaGuardia. He believed that these were qualities to be embraced by New Yorkers during the Great Depression.
  • The Library has a copy of the Gutenberg Bible from the 1450s, which is one of the most valuable items in the New York Public Library’s custody.
  • The NYPL needed twenty tons of coal to provide daily heating in its early days of operation!
  • The NYC Public Library has over one hundred and twenty-five miles of shelved materials, with almost 50 million books in its possession.

5. New York City’s Federal Reserve Bank

The Federal Reserve Bank is the apex bank of the United States of America, charged with providing a stable monetary system and maintaining the inflation rate, among other duties.

New York City’s Federal Reserve Bank is among the twelve reserve banks in the United States of America, with its building located in the Financial District of Manhattan. It is also said that the New York Federal Reserve Bank has the largest gold being held in the world.

Here are some important facts about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York City;

It is said that about $250 billion worth of gold is being held in the vaults located in the bank’s basement, making it one of the largest gold storage spots in the United States and globally.

There is not one person who has complete knowledge of the whole vault combination where the gold is being stored.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has over 200 tons of metal-infused into its architecture. So much for security from theft.

6. New York City Subway

The New York City Subway system is the major means of public transportation, with more than five million commuters daily (asides from weekends).

The subway ride throughout the trains plying different routes are commonplace to New Yorkers and tourists.

The entire New York Subway has 472 stations and transports over 5 million commuters per day. The New York train system is overseen by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

Below are some facts about New York City’s subway system you ought to know:

  • The lowest point of the subway system is 180 feet deep and is located at 191st street.
  • When laid out, all the tracks found in the New York subway cover the distance from New York City to Chicago
  • There is a Guinness World Record for traveling all the subway stations in New York City in 21 hours, 28 minutes, and 14 seconds.
  • The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will send a mail to your email address if you are late for work due to a train delay.
  • It once costs five cents for a subway ride in 1944, and the price did not increase until 1948. The current fare for a single subway ride is $2.75.

7. Brooklyn Bridge

Built to transport commuters from Manhattan to Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most famous suspension bridges in New York and also globally.

New Yorkers have said that a walk across this bridge offers a vivid view of the East River and the skyline for which Manhattan is renowned.

Below are some amazing facts about the Brooklyn Bridge

  • The first crossing of the bridge was by Emily Roebling, the late Washington Roebling’s wife, who served as the chief engineer after his father’s death.
  • Completing this bridge took fourteen years and six-hundred laborers to complete.
  • A popular showman named P.T Barnum led 21 elephants across the bridge to affirm its stability and strength in 1884.
  • Over 20 or even more workers lost their lives in constructing the Brooklyn Bridge.

Read: If you’re looking to explore this NYC borough, take note of the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn here.

8. Go Topless Day Parade

Held annually, this parade cum festival is held to support the right to allow women to go around topless based on gender equality.

This parade is held on the streets of New York City and other states like Washington D.C and has been held over the past 13 years since 2007.

The parade is held on the closest Sunday to August 26th, with men and women joining. Here are facts about the Go Topless Day Parade worth knowing:

  • This parade owes its origins to Rael, the founder of the Raelian Movement, who thinks aliens created humans.
  • There is an anthem for the Go Topless Day, titled ”Go Topless Go”.
  • If you are joining the march and do not want to go topless, there are bikinis that look like breasts.

9. Central Park

Located in the West Side of Manhattan, Central Park Mall is home to more than 30 retailers, eateries, and a cinema, among many other side attractions.

Central Park is one of the most visited urban parks in New York City, with over 20 million annual visitors.

Here’s a key fact about Central Park and the Central Park Mall

  • There are over 230 bird species in Central Park including doves, sparrows and crows.

10. Jonas Bronck

Jonas Bronck was a sailor and an immigrant who is said to be the first white man to settle on the mainland opposite Harlem.

The area where he settled was known as ”Broncks Land”, and the name has come to stay till today.

Today, the Bronx is one of the five boroughs in New York City, along with Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, and Manhattan.

Here are some facts about the Bronx worth knowing by native New York residents;

  • The largest park in New York City, the Pelham Bay Park, is situated here and is said to be as much as three times larger than Central Park!
  • Bronx is often touted as having the roots of hip-hop and breakdancing in New York City.
  • Bronx is home to many celebrities, especially rappers, with famous poet Edgar Allan Poe being a Bronxite.

Read: If you’re planning to stay for some time in the Bronx, you may want to check out our post on safe Bronx neighborhoods.

11. Cultural Diversity Like No Other

According to Culture Trip, New York City is ranked fifth among its ”Ten Most Multicultural Cities In The World”, with other cities like Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Paris, and Singapore.

Ranked as one of the top cities for tourists and sightseeing in the United States, New York hosted a whopping 65 plus million visitors in 2018 alone. That is almost the population of France!

Here are some interesting facts about New York City when it comes to diversity;

  • New York City has about 800 languages being spoken, making it one of the world’s most multilingual cities.
  • New York is home to the largest settlement of Jews outside Israel.
  • New York City has served as one of the leading immigration points for Brazilian immigrants. Little Brazil is a neighborhood in Manhattan, so-called, due to its Brazilian restaurants and businesses.

12. Ellis Island

Ellis Island is a government-owned island in the New York Harbor that was once a teeming entry and inspection station for immigrants.

A museum on the island has carefully stored photographs, records, and other memorabilia from times of early immigration.

Some facts about this island worth knowing are:

  • Though considered a place of interest in NYC, 80 percent of Ellis Island is in New Jersey.
  • Ellis Island was used as an incarceration center during the First and Second World Wars.
  • Ellis Island served as a place where thieves, pirates, and crew members, and sailors who mutinied were executed.

Bonus New York City Facts

Some bonus facts worth mentioning include the following;

  • The Library of Congress is the official national library of the United States of America. It is also the largest library in the world.
  • New York declares itself as the first capital of the United States of America, as it is the place where the legal documents referencing the creation of the America was drafted.

New York houses a lot of history and facts which is just a lot to put in one writeup. From Pearl Street Station, which was the first commercial power generating plant in America, to the popular New York Post which is the oldest published newspaper in America, New York seemed to pioneer a lot of things.

Which fact was the most surprising? Was it the fact that over 800 languages are spoken in New York? These are just some out of the facts about New York which we are able to bring you. Feel free to let us know which you found most surprising.

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