The Big Apple: 40 Surprising Facts About New York City

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1Hot dog vendor

Hot dog vendor

There is a New York City hot dog vendor who pays $289,000/year for his location.


2. There were no reports of violent crime in all of New York City on November 26, 2012. This is the first time this was known to have happened.


3. New York City plans to turn all of its old phone booths into wifi hotspots.


4. During the 1977 New York blackout, a number of looters stole DJ equipment from electronics stores and as a result, the hip-hop genre, barely known outside of the Bronx at the time, grew at an astounding rate from 1977 onward.


5. Henryk Siwiak was fatally shot on 9/11 and because the deaths from the terror attacks are not included in the city's official crime statistics, Siwiak's death is the only homicide recorded in New York City on that date.


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6Empire State Building

Empire State Building

After the Empire State Building opened in New York City in 1931, much of its office space went unrented. It was nicknamed the "Empty State Building" by New Yorkers and didn't become profitable until 1950.


7. In 2012, an artist named Nate Hill dressed up as the Hamburglar and biked around New York City throwing partially-eaten McDonald’s cheeseburgers at bystanders. The artist said he wanted it to be “one of those little things that messes up your whole day.”


8. There is a 550-foot skyscraper (33 Thomas Street) in New York City with no windows. It was built to withstand the fallout of a nuclear blast for up to 2 weeks.


9. Chinese mathematician Yitang Zhang could not get an academic job upon graduating, having to work as an accountant and a delivery worker for a New York City restaurant. He later went on to solve a math problem that had been unsolved for 150 years and won a MacArthur Genius Grant.


10. The famous New York City tourist attraction, Wall Street's Charging Bull, cost $360,000 to build, was placed illegally in the middle of the night in 1989 after a stock market crash, was impounded, only to be returned to the streets due to public outcry.


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11Manhattan population density

Manhattan population density

The population density of Manhattan is much lower today than it was 100 years ago, and total population has fallen by about 25%.


12. 7 schools (Walton High School) in New York City look exactly the same, apparently because they only had money for 1 set of blueprints.


13. On 9/11, when all transport out of the city was shut down, citizen boat owners managed to transport over 500,000 people from Manhattan Island in an amazing act known as the "9/11 Boatlift".


14. Decommissioned New York City Subway cars are dumped into the ocean to provide homes for sea creatures.


15. If the Native Americans really did sell Manhattan to the European for $16 in the 1600s and had invested that $16 at annual interest rates of 8%, today that $16 would be worth enough for them to buy back all of Manhattan and still have $222 Trillion dollars left over.


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16David Villalobos

David Villalobos

In 2012, a man named David Villalobos intentionally jumped off of the monorail at the Bronx Zoo into the tiger exhibit, to be 'one with the tiger'. He survived, and when the police asked him why he did it he replied: "everyone in life makes choices".


17. The current heir to the former Ottoman Empire, Bayezid Osman, is a US citizen, World War 2 Veteran, and lives in New York City where he worked as a librarian before retiring.


18. In 1906, the Bronx Zoo featured a caged African Man (Ota Benga) as an exhibit.


19. If you die homeless or with no money in New York City, you are buried by prisoners on Hart Island in a mass grave, up to 1000 per grave for children and 50 for adults, with the exception of Special Baby number 1, the first baby to die of AIDS.


20. If Texas had the same population density as New York City, all of the world's 7.4 billion people would fit inside the state's borders.


21Drinking water

Drinking water

New York City is one of four major cities in the United States whose drinking water is pure enough not to require purification by water treatment plants. The city is supplied with drinking water by the protected Catskill Mountains watershed.


22. The US Navy built a replica ship in the middle of New York City during World War 1 to boost recruitment. It was staffed by a full crew who stood guard, slept on board and manned wooden guns. It helped enlist 25,000 men.


23. No more than 40 people live above 800 feet elevation in New York City. It's an exclusive privilege for the super-rich.


24. Albert Einstein's brains were kept and dissected both improperly and against his wishes. His brain and eyeballs remain in a safe deposit box in New York City.


25. 800 different languages are spoken in New York City, making it the most linguistically diverse city on Earth.

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