15 Fun and Fabulous Facts Most People Don’t Know About New York City

The Big Apple is arguably the most famous city in the world, spanning multiple boroughs and with a population of about 20 million. As you’d expect, the city has collected some delightful history and accompanying fun facts throughout the centuries it’s been around.

This is a fascinating list of wacky factoids about New York City that will live rent-free in your head for years. These tidbits will come in handy when you want to wow your friends or go for first place in your local neighborhood bar trivia game.

1. It Was Once Called “New Amsterdam”

Image Credit: Johannes Vingboons/Wiki Commons.

Long before Mets and Yankees fans coexisted in the same general area, the Dutch arrived from The Netherlands in the area now known as New York City in the early 1600s. They named their new colony “New Amsterdam,” which sounds much cooler than “New York City” ever has.

The New Amsterdam Knicks sounds like a great sports team name, doesn’t it?

2. Music History

1720 fortepiano by Cristofori in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Image Credit: Shriram Rajagopala – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Believe it or not, New York City is home to the oldest surviving piano in the world. It’s kept safe in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was built in 1720 by an inventor in Florence, Italy.

I’m a music fan, so I can’t wait to visit the Met the next time I’m in New York City and see this genuine relic of music history. Forget about famous paintings and sculptures; give me the old-school piano.

3. There’s Always Money in NYC

The cornerstone of the Federal Reserve building in New York City
Image Credit: Benji the Pen, Own Work – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

The city’s Federal Reserve Bank boasts Earth’s most impressive gold storage. Located 80 feet below street level, the bank’s vault houses over 7,000 tons of gold bars. The estimated street value of said gold is a jaw-dropping $90 billion.

Needless to say, it’s safe to assume your money and investments are backed by plenty of solid gold if you have a bank account backed by New York City’s Federal Reserve.

4. It Has Coastlines For Days

Ferries departing Battery Park City Ferry Terminal
Image Credit: Fred Hsu, Own Work – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

When I think of iconic, lengthy American coastlines, I immediately think of towns like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami, not New York City. At 520 miles of coastline, the Big Apple has more waterfront property than L.A., San Francisco, Miami, and Boston put together.

That’s one of those head-scratching facts that seem impossible to believe, but check out a map, and you can see it for yourself.

5. It’s Home to the Most-Filmed Location Ever

Central Park, New York City, New York
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

New York City’s famed Central Park is well-known for countless reasons. It’s an expansive urban park that gives the Big Apple some much-needed green space to counteract the endless grid of skyscrapers and concrete. The park itself also has the distinction of being the most-filmed location ever; it’s been featured in 532 feature films.

Even Ryan Gosling’s got nothing on Central Park.

6. It Invented a Delicious Breakfast Dish

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In my humble opinion, the breakfast staple, eggs benedict, is the most delicious dish known to man. There’s something about a perfectly poached egg on an English muffin that hits all the right notes for me. As it turns out, I have New York City to thank for it.

The famous Delmonico’s in Lower Manhattan is credited with bringing this fantastic breakfast item to the masses. The restaurant invented it in 1860, and it’s been saving me from Sunday morning hangovers ever since.

7. An Exclusive Zip Code

Empire State Building NYC
Image Credit: Anthony Quintano – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Sometimes, buildings are so massive that they have their own zip code. It’s an impressive feat and one that the famous Empire State Building has earned. The iconic structure has the zip code 10118, making it the only building in the city that can brag about having that particular distinction.

My mother worked on the 95th floor of the Empire State Building for a decade in the 1990s, and she never imparted this bit of wisdom to me.

8. A City of Firsts

Brooklyn Bridge NYC
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

When New York City wasn’t making headlines for delicious breakfast dishes, it was leading the way in innovation regarding bridges. The Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel-wire suspension bridge ever built on Earth when it was completed in 1869.

The bridge’s design and engineering set the standard for stability and longevity, and the science behind its structure is still used in other bridges today.

9. Everything’s Bigger in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Boro Hall, NYC
Image Credit: Jim Henderson, Own Work – CC0/Wiki Commons.

New York City is home to five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. However, Brooklyn has an underrated distinction. The borough is so populated (most recently estimated to be over 2.7 million people) that if it were its own city, it would rank in the top five most populated cities in the United States.

That’s a lot of Yankees fans, however you look at it.

10. Home of the Rich

Midtown Manhattan
Image Credit: Anthony Quintano – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Sometimes, the rich and famous like to stick together. New York City boasts the most billionaires living within its city limits on Earth. It makes sense when you consider that the Big Apple has been the financial hub of the United States (and arguably the world) for generations.

Given how expensive New York City real estate is these days, it’s logical that the town has so many billionaires living there.

11. A True Melting Pot

Restaurants in Historic Little Italy of Manhattan, New York
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Known as one of the world’s true melting pots of culture, immigration, and history, New York City contains residents who speak many different languages. An impressive 2 million men and women speak Spanish in the city, which only adds to the Big Apple’s international allure.

If I ever strike it rich, I’d move to New York City in a heartbeat, along with many other people.

12. It’s a Bird Watcher’s Paradise

Female northern cardinal in New York City's Central Park
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that I love bird watching. There’s something about seeing birds show up on my back porch in the morning that puts my soul at ease. Fortunately for like-minded people, Central Park is a bonafide bird watcher’s paradise.

There are approximately 800 known North American bird species, and depending on the season, bird watchers can see 275 of them in Central Park.

13. It Has Iconic Literary Roots

Rose Main Reading Room New York Public Library
Image Credit: CC BY 2.5/Wiki Commons.

Book lovers, rejoice: the New York Public Library is the world’s third-largest. Founded in 1849, the library has an incredible 10 million books in its catalog, making it a must-visit for any literary fan visiting New York City.

I once went to the New York Public Library on a field trip in high school, and I couldn’t believe the scope of the building’s interior. It took me forever to find the books I wanted (although I blame that on the Dewey decimal system).

14. The Statue of Liberty’s Crown

The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island
Image Credit: William Warby – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Most people know that the Statue of Liberty was given to America as a gift from France in 1885, but not many people know what the rays in the statue’s crown represent.

Now you know the answer to this random trivia question in case you’re ever on Jeopardy. The seven rays represent each of the world’s seven seas.

15. A Surprising Oyster Fact

Image Credit: Jim Henderson/Wiki Commons.

Manhattan’s financial district is home to one of the oldest streets in New York City: Pearl Street. It certainly lives up to its name: In the 1800s, oyster shells were used to pave the road, a testament to the seafood delicacy’s massive popularity.

Now, if only the city could start paving its streets with eggs benedict, we’d be getting somewhere.

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