Last week, I was presented my Ultimate Bucket List for Los Angeles, my home for the past 14 years.
Turns out my sister lives on the other big city of this country: New York.
It is a bit bizarre how we ended up living on opposite sides of the United States. I will always prefer Los Angeles (hello sunny weather and zero snow policy). However, over the years, I have started to develop a serious interest for New York City. It is such a diverse, bubbling and complex metropolis.
The geek in me feels like traveling around its many corners discovering historical districts and meeting people from all over the world.
During my last visit to the city, my knowledge about the city grew by about 1000% (scientific approximation). I feel like sharing some of that knowledge in here.
Interesting and Fun Facts about New York City
Without further ado, here are 42 interesting, fun and quirky facts about New York City!
- New York City is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. So, please, do not use the term Manhattan as a synonym of New York City
- Four of the five boroughs are located on islands. Manhattan and Staten Island are their own islands. Queens and Brooklyn are in the western tip of Long Island. The Bronx is the only borough located on the mainland
- Because of the islands situation, the different parts of the city are accessed by bridges or tunnels. Get prepared to pay to use those connectors (the price varies from $ 3to $7)
- We are using the term borough to refer to the different areas of New York but borough is equivalent to a county. The funny thing is that Brooklyn is in Kings County and Queens is in Queens County. So, the Kings and Queens reside side by side. No kidding!
- Brooklyn is the most populated borough in the city (not Manhattan)
- Queens is considered the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world
- Oh, by the way New York City is not the capital of the state of New York. That honor goes to Albany
- New York City is the largest city in the United States. The city has 8.5 million residents
- The city is associated with the British Empire but the first settlers were Dutch. They established a fur trading post in Governor’s Island
- Later, the Dutch established the colony of New Amsterdam in Lower Manhattan. They purchased the island from the locals for the modern equivalent of $1000. Many have call the transaction “the best real estate deal in history.”
- New York City was the first capital of the United States. The designation lasted only a year
- The city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. But, it wasn’t always like that. Before the ‘90s the city was a crime hub. Crime rates were cut in more than half when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was elected (full disclosure: not all entities or individuals attribute the decrease in crime to the mayor policies)
- Have you heard about the East River? Well, it is a tidal estuary
- The city has more woman than men (oh, oh)
- The Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel wire suspension bridge constructed
- The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States. It was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (from Colmar in Alsace) and built by Gustave Eiffel (yup!)
- In 2014, the French showered the Statue of Liberty with one million rose petals to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day
- Ellis Island received 12 million immigrants for over sixty years. The island can be visited nowadays
- The city has the largest Polish population after Warsaw. The same goes for Jewish people (outside Israel). And, you can probably guess it, it has the largest Chinese population outside Asia too.
- The city has the largest Chinatown in the West
- The real Little Italy of New York City is in The Bronx (Arthur Avenue)
- Since I am Puerto Rican, I need to state this in its own bullet. New York has the largest Puerto Rican population of any city in the world (more than one million)
- In some ways, this fact is no surprising. New York City is the most linguistically diverse city in the world. Residents speak about 800 languages (yikes!). Walk around Times Square and you will notice this right away
- New Yorkers have their own way of calling things and pronouncing words. I had tons of problems understanding them. For example, there is a street called Houston. You would expect that to be pronounced like the city in Texas. No, they pronounce it like the word “house.”
- There are a lot of acronyms used to refer to several spots in the city. You should get familiar with them before visiting
- NoHo – North of Houston Street
- SoHo – South of Houston Street
- NoLiTa – North of Little Italy
- TriBeCa – Triangle Below Canal Street
- LES – Lower East Side
- UWS – Upper West Side
- FiDi – Financial District
- UES – Upper West Side
- DUMBO (really?) – Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (no way I am going to remember that)
- Always use the word “subway” to refer to a train. Seems like people have no idea what the “metro” is. Don’t bother asking if the train is going north or south. Ask if it is going uptown or downtown
- SoHo has the largest collection of cast iron architecture in the world. You have to get close to the buildings in the district to notice the material
- Standard street signs are green. However, if you notice brown street signs it is because you are in a historic district
- My sister told me once she knows a guy who owns two medallions. I had no idea what she was talking about. Well, a medallion is a license to operate a taxicab in the city. Each medallion is valued at one million dollars. Start saving if you want to do this for a living
- A lot of people all over the world dream about living in Manhattan. The reality is that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the island is about $3,000. A lot of people end up leaving after a short period of time
- And, talking about exorbitant prices, the price to operate a hot dog cart in Manhattan (for a year) ranges between $150,000 and $300,000 (in the most expensive pars of town, think Central Park)
- But, you can make good money selling street food. The famous Halal Guys (they sell rice, chicken and beef plates) are believed to make millions of dollars a year
- With these prices, it is obvious that most street vendors operate without a permit
- If you do not have culinary talent, you can opt for developing something unique and eye catching. The Naked Cowboy (performs in Times Squares) makes six figures annually (about $150,000)
- Let’s keep talking about money (I know you like it). There are more than 380,000 millionaires in the city. Now you know why there are so many expensive stores and establishments in Fifth Avenue
- If that is not enough, keep in mind 25% of the world’s gold bullion (bars or ingots) are in the Federal Bank Reserve’s vaults (underground)
- The city’s subway system is the largest mass transit system in the world (and it keeps expanding). It operates 24 hours a day
- The city has ghost or abandoned subway stations. The most famous is the one close to the City Hall. You can visit the station on public tours (restricted to certain dates on a year)
- Skyscrapers in Manhattan are concentrated in Midtown and the lower part. This is because a strong bedrock is located on those spots. The other areas of the island are too week to support enormous buildings
- The skyscraper craze is still going. Several buildings expected to be higher than the Empire State are under construction
- The ice cream cone, pasta primavera and eggs Benedict were all invented in New York City.
- These are the most popular attraction in the city:
- Statue of Liberty
- Time Square
- Central Park
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Flatiron Building
- Empire State Building
- Rockefeller Center
- Wall Street
- Fifth Avenue
Ufff, that was awesome! Cheers to New York City!
What do you think? What interesting things have you experienced in New York?
More About the City
- Arthur Avenue: The Real Little Italy of New York
- Where to Find the Best Street Art in Manhattan
- Why you Have to Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
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