25 Things You Might Not Have Known About New York City

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There’s more to the Big Apple than Lady Liberty and Central Park. Here are some tidbits you might not have known.

1. New York City may be a concrete jungle, but there’s more green space than you think. About 29,000 acres—or 14 percent of the city—is parkland.

2. The city also boasts 14 miles of beaches.

3. In case you were wondering, it’s perfectly legal to walk around NYC topless.

4. In the early 19th century, New York’s sanitation system largely consisted of pigs roaming the streets eating trash.

5. Why are NYC’s cabs yellow? Because back in 1907, a car salesman suggested yellow was the easiest color to spot from a distance.

6. New York's Federal Reserve Bank vault is the world's largest depository for monetary gold.

7. In 2011, tourists pumped about $31 billion into the city’s economy.

8. In 2003, a man was arrested for trying to recreate the Garden of Eden in his Harlem apartment. He had “collected” a live alligator and a 400-pound tiger.

9. When Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers in 1974, he didn’t do it once—he walked between the buildings eight times! During his feat he was 1368 feet above the ground.

10. Manhattan means “island of the hills” in Lenape.

11. When Central Park was being built, more gunpowder was required to clear the area than was used during the Battle of Gettysburg.

12. Today, nearly 40 percent of New Yorkers are born outside of the U.S.

13. The city is one of the most linguistically diverse places on the planet—over 800 languages are spoken there!

14. It was once suggested that NYC be renamed Brimaquonx—a portmanteau combining all five borough names.

15. When the Brooklyn Bridge was built, New Yorkers were afraid it would collapse. To calm locals down, P.T. Barnum safely led 21 elephants across the bridge.

16. Brooklyn was the site of the Battle of Long Island, one of the heaviest defeats for the United States during the Revolutionary War.

17. In 1625, Peter Minuit bought the southern tip of Manhattan for less than $1000 from Native Americans. Rent in Manhattan has never been cheaper.

18. If you ate at a new restaurant every day for 12 years, you still wouldn’t have visited all of New York’s eateries.

19. Washington Square Park might be known as the center of NYU’s campus, but it was originally a graveyard for yellow fever victims and a site for public executions.

20. Between 1980 and 2000, a reported 2000 fire hydrants in Manhattan did not work. That didn’t stop the city from handing out parking tickets to anyone idling in front of one.

21. The Bronx was founded by Jonas Bronck in 1636—as farmland.

22. The performers you hear on the subway? They have to audition each year if they want to be officially recognized by the MTA.

23. With 34 lines and 468 stations, the city’s subway track is longer than the New York State thruway by over one hundred miles!

24. Spectators at the Times Square ball drop leave behind almost 50 tons of trash.

25. If Brooklyn were its own city, it would be the fourth-most populous in the country.

Now that you're a New York City expert, sign up for the Great Urban Race on May 17, 2014 for the smartest, most active way to test your knowledge!


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February 19, 2014 - 2:00pm
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