Fun Facts about New York City

Author:Denise Perreault

Known by many nicknames, including the "Empire State" and "The Big Apple," New York City is one of the most important places in the world. As one of the largest and most diverse cities, New York is home to many famous and talented people. Over its long history, New Yorkers have filled the city with thousands of important landmarks. Additionally, because New York City is home to so many cultural attractions, millions of visitors flock there annually to experience the city first hand. All of these factors lead many people to consider New York the finest city on Earth, and simply call it "The City" to demonstrate its greatness.


New York City has a long and interesting history, stretching almost 400 years. It has changed greatly over this time, from its primitive state as a forest to the skyscraper-filled city it is today. It is interesting to consider what New York City will look like in another 400 years.

  • The city was originally called New Amsterdam.
  • While the official seal of the city proclaims that New York City was founded in 1625, many historians argue that the first settlers arrived in 1624.
  • Most of the initial colonists were Dutch, and they were fleeing the religious persecution of the Spanish Inquisition.
  • Chief among the goals of the settlers was the development of a fur-trading post; this is why beavers are on the New York City seal.
  • The first settlers established their camp on Governor's Island. The next year, they set out to colonize lower Manhattan.
  • In 1626, Peter Minuit purchased the land from Native Americans.
  • The Island of Manhattan derives its name from the Native American tribe that lived in the area, called the Mannahatta.
  • Initially, Manhattan was little more than a cattle pasture.
  • By the beginning of the 20th Century, the population of New York City was over 3 million.
  • The oldest standing building in New York City is the Wyckoff Farmhouse, originally built in 1652.
  • From 1789 to 1790, New York City was the nation's capital.

Size and Population

New York City is a busy, crowded metropolis. Known as a "Melting Pot," it is home to people from virtually every country in the world. This combination of different cultures gives New York City its unique charm and makes it like no other place.

  • According to the 2012 census, New York City has a population of over 8 million. This represents more than one-third of the entire state's population.
  • Almost half of the city's residents over the age of 5 speak a language besides English.
  • The population of the entire metro New York City area is close to 12 million.
  • New York City is home to more women than men. Approximately 52 percent of the residents are female.
  • New York City's population is approximately 44 percent white, 25 percent African American, 28 percent Hispanic, and 12 percent Asian. People with Pacific Island or Native American heritage make up most of the remainder. These percentages add up to more than 100 percent, because many people have mixed ancestry.
  • Approximately one-third of all New York City residents live at or below the poverty line.
  • Approximately 6 percent of New York City residents have an income that is more than 10 times the poverty level.
  • New York has approximately 50,000 homeless people.
  • New York City is not very big. The entire city is approximately 300 square miles in size.
  • New York City is the most densely populated major city in the United States.
  • New York City is divided into five different boroughs, or neighborhoods. They are Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.
  • Normally home to about 1.5 million residents, Manhattan's population nearly doubles during the work week, when an additional 1.5 million commuters come to the island.

Famous Landmarks

Over the years, artists, architects and elected officials have constructed many noteworthy structures in the city of New York. Others were constructed elsewhere and moved to the city, such as the Statue of Liberty. Some of the most noteworthy buildings in the world – including the Empire State Building – call New York home.

  • The Empire State Building was the world's tallest structure from its construction in 1931 until 1972.
  • In addition to the Empire State Building, many notable sky scrapers were built in New York City, including the Woolworth Building, the New York Life Building, and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower.
  • Central Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world. Encompassing over 800 acres, the park draws over 35 million annual visitors.
  • The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France, and opened in New York Harbor in 1886.
  • The Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel wire suspension bridge constructed, and the first to include electric lighting. It spans the East River to connect Brooklyn with Manhattan.
  • Manhattan is home to the first commodity market in the world, called the New York Cotton Exchange, as well as the largest securities exchange in the world: the New York Stock Market.
  • The Staten Island Ferry moves across the Hudson River, so it may not qualify as a landmark, but it attracts thousands of annual visitors.
  • Times Square, which is sometimes known as the "Center of the Universe," is one of the most iconic and popular places in New York City.

Famous people from NYC

Because so many people live in the city, it should be no surprise that many famous people live in New York City. New York is the cultural, business, and entertainment center for the world and this is where the best of the best choose to live. On any given day, you may encounter celebrities on the street, the subway, or at a restaurant.

  • New York City is home to many entertainers, including living legends such as Denzel Washington, Robert De Niro, Spike Lee, and Tommy Lee Jones.
  • Michael Jordan, Joe Namath, and Vince Lombardi were all New Yorkers at one point in time.
  • New York City was home to some of the greatest minds in history, including physicists Richard Feynman and Robert Oppenheimer as well as author Carl Sagan.
  • Many music legends hail from New York City, including Billy Joel and Ira Gershwin.
  • Current musicians, such as Christina Aguilera, 50 Cent, and Lady Gaga were born in New York City as well.
  • Lucile Ball was born in Jamestown, but moved to New York City.
  • Both Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt were born in New York.
  • New York City is home to some of the world's funniest people, like Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, and Jerry Seinfeld.
  • Any city with the nickname of "Gotham" must have its share of famous criminals, and New York City has plenty of them. Al Capone, Billy the Kid, and David Berkowitz were all from New York City.
  • Several New Yorkers have been reality television stars, including Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino from the show Jersey Shore, and Paul John Teutul from the series American Chopper.


New York hosts many events and attractions that draw people from all over the world. From sporting events to theater productions, New York City is one of the most entertaining places on Earth. New York City is also home to world-class zoos, amusement parks, and museums as well.

  • Ellis Island was the location where immigrants entered the United States, but today the island houses a museum dedicated to teaching early immigration policies and procedures to visitors.
  • Rockefeller Center, the site where Saturday Night Live and Today are filmed, is a popular tourist destination.
  • Famous ethnic neighborhoods, such as Chinatown and Little Italy, are favorites among visitors.
  • The New York City Marathon draws up to 50,000 runners annually, and travels through all five boroughs.
  • Famous scenes from movies and television programs abound in New York City. Many visitors enjoy visiting the places where Friends, Law and Order, and Seinfeld were filmed.
  • Many people visit New York City exclusively for the nightlife. Hundreds of restaurants, theaters, and nightclubs fill the city.
  • The Museum of Modern Art is one of the finest museums in the world, and displays important pieces from around the globe.
  • Coney Island has a number of fun attractions, including roller coasters and other thrill rides.
  • The Bronx Zoo is one of the finest zoos in the country and has been instrumental in the survival of many rare species. The New York Aquarium, located on Coney Island, provides visitors with the opportunity to see sea creatures up close.
  • The New York Botanical Gardens allow residents and visitors to see numerous examples of beautiful plants and flowers.


New York is well known for its incredible food. The diversity of the population of the city has truly created a melting pot of cuisine. Visitors can find food from hundreds of different countries within a few city blocks, as well as dine in some of the finest restaurants in the world.

  • Many authorities consider New York Pizza the best in the world. According to most experienced pizza chefs, the municipal water in the city that is used to make the crust is better than any other water in the world.
  • New York is home to nine of the top 100 restaurants in the world, according to Restaurant magazine.
  • Thousands of mobile food carts provide quick, affordable, and delicious meals to New Yorkers on the go.
  • Many neighborhoods are renowned for a different type of food. For example, Koreatown is well known for its Korean food, while Little Italy is home to several famous Italian restaurants.
  • Drinks like the Bloody Mary and the Manhattan Special are rumored to have been invented in New York City.
  • The ice cream cone, pasta primavera and eggs Benedict were all invented in New York City.
  • Famous street foods available in New York City include hot dogs, pretzels, falafel, tacos and Italian ices.
  • Eastern European Jewish communities invented delicatessens, often called delis, in New York City.
  • The headquarters for several national food businesses are in New York City, including Blimpie, Yoo-hoo, Sbarro, and Haagen-Dazs.
  • Many of New York City's restaurants rank among the most expensive in the world. Some cost patrons an average of $400 or more per person.

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