32 Weird New York Facts Even New Yorkers Probably Don’t Know

Published December 19, 2017
Updated December 12, 2023

These thirty-two interesting facts about New York highlight the hidden gems and weird trivia behind the biggest city in the United States.

George Washington Tooth New York Facts
George Washington's last remaining tooth is on display at Fraunces Tavern in New York City's Financial District, where he gave his storied farewell speech at the end of his term as president.Bettmann/Getty Images

Abandoned 76th Street Subway Station
Remnants of a 76th street subway station exist underground in Queens and is said to have only been open for a month in 1948. The stop was supposedly once an extension of the A line, but now nothing remains of it except for a mysterious wall at the end of a set of unused tracks.

It is known by some as the "Roswell" of the NYC subway system.
Wikimedia Commons

Wall Street Bomb In 1920
The country's first alleged act of domestic terrorism took place on September 16, 1920, when a horse-drawn carriage loaded with dynamite exploded in front of 23 Wall Street.

Though thirty people were killed and around 300 injured, the man responsible was never found.
NY Daily News/Getty Images

Evelyn McHale Suicide Photo
In 1947, Evelyn McHale jumped off the 86th-floor Observation Deck of the Empire State Building. After her body landed on a limousine, parked at the curb, a photography student ran across the street and snapped a photo.

Time magazine would later dub it “the most beautiful suicide.”
Wikimedia Commons

Albert Einstein’s Eyes
After Albert Einstein’s death, a Princeton pathologist conducted an illegal autopsy on his body and removed his brain and eyes.

The eyes were gifted to New York City-based eye doctor Henry Abrams, who has kept them in a safe deposit box somewhere in the city to this day.
Fred Stein Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images

New Tattoo
Tattooing was banned in NYC from 1961 to 1997. The official reasons are only conjecture, but they range from the attempt to control a hepatitis B outbreak to a personal vendetta against a tattoo artist following a love triangle.

Despite the ban, many artists continued to run underground tattoo parlors.
Bodies of Subversion/Powerhouse Books

Interesting Facts About New York City
You're 25 times more likely to be bit by a New Yorker than you are by a shark. Wikimedia Commons

Bloody Angle In Chinatown
Doyers Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown was once known as "The Bloody Angle" because of the deadly wars between the Chinese Tong Gangs that occurred there up through the 1930s.NYPL

Delmonicos Restaurant Nyc
Delmonico's became the first fine dining restaurant in New York City when it opened its doors in 1837.

The restaurant still operates today at its original location in the Financial District and claims to be the home of several famous culinary classics, such as Eggs Benedict and Lobster Newberg.
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Federal Hall
In 1785, New York City became the first capital of the United States.

Federal Hall, located at 26 Wall Street, served as the first capital building in the country.
Wikimedia Commons

Illustration of people moving
Up until the mid-20th century, the only day people were allowed to move in New York City was May 1st. The date signified the day the Dutch originally set out to colonize Manhattan.

The tradition, which was celebrated as a holiday rather than a horrific nuisance, endured until rent control laws made it easier to stay in homes rather than seek out cheaper rents elsewhere.
Wikimedia Commons

Map of Hog Island
Hog Island was a sandy peninsula in the Rockaways that was home to a beach resort at the turn of the century. However storms and floods washed away the sandy “island” over decades, and it was completely gone by 1920.Atlas of Long Island, New York/Wikimedia Commons

Grand Central Terminal ceiling
There is a small dirty patch of ceiling in the Grand Central Terminal that was left after the rest was cleaned in 1990 to remove the soot from all the cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke that had accumulated there. It was left to show the effectiveness of the cleaning, but many see it as a caution against smoking.

Subway Life
15,152 forms of life have been found in the New York Subway system. Wikimedia Commons

Interesting New York City Facts
In the 1920s, the New York government demolished a number apartment buildings to widen streets. However, their survey failed to account for a 25” triangle of David Hess’ property, making it the smallest piece of private land in the city.

The land was eventually sold to Village Cigars in 1938 for $1,000.
Chris Hamby/Wikimedia Commons

Washington Square Park new york facts
Back in 1797, when the area now known as Washington Square Park was just farmland, city officials buried around 20,000 bodies in the area due to an epidemic of yellow fever that ravaged New York.NYPL

Strand Books NYC
The Strand bookstore was built on land owned by New York's last Dutch governor, Peter Stuyvesant. During the Great Depression, the bookstore almost went out of business but was saved when their landlord, a descendant of Stuyvesant, allowed them to stay on their property rent-free for two years.Rob Kim/Getty Images

Nyc Usa
One in thirty-eight Americans lives in New York City. Flickr

New York Marble Cemetery
The New York Marble Cemetery was created to hold the bodies of yellow fever victims when it was thought the disease spread because graves that were too shallow. The deceased are kept in marble vaults ten feet underground, with no grave markers above, leaving the lawn open for picnics and weddings. Gary Gershoff/WireImage

Alligators in NYC sewers
The urban legend about alligators in New York City sewers has some basis in fact. Alligators have been spotted in the sewers on a few occasions going back to 1935 and up to as recently as 2010. However, experts claim that while the animals might end up there from time to time, it's unlikely that they've taken up any kind of permanent residence. Richard Levine/Corbis/Getty Images

Manhattan Purchase
Manhattan was purchased by Dutch colonists for the modern day equivalent of $24 worth of goods.Getty Images

Aerial View of North Brother Island
North Brother Island, a small island off the coast of the Bronx, was used as a quarantine site until the 1950s. Its most famous resident was "Typhoid Mary" Mallon, who died on North Brother Island in 1938 after being confined there for 23 years.Google Maps

Empire State Suicide Attempt
In 1979, a Bronx woman named Elvita Adams went to the Empire State Building with the intent to kill herself by jumping from the 86th floor.

Fortunately, a strong gust of wind pushed her onto a two-foot ledge on the 85th floor where she was pulled inside by a security guard.
Paul Kennedy/Wikimedia Commons

One Times Square New York Facts
Though originally built as the headquarters of the New York Times, 1 Times Square is now nearly empty. A Walgreens leases the first three floors, but the remaining floors are uninhabited.Wikimedia Commons

Times Square New York City Facts
On a quiet day, one can hear a faint hum coming from the subway grates between 45th and 46th Streets in Times Square. The sound is not a part of the natural buzz of the city, but a sound art installation installed by the late Max Neuhaus in 1977. Youtube Screenshot

New York City Post Office's Pneumatic Tube
The New York City Post Office's pneumatic tube system delivered everything from letters, books, and goods from 1897 to its closure in 1953. However, its first delivery was a cat that was placed into the system as a display when it was first created.

The cat survived, only appearing dazed for a minute or two before running away.
SSPL/Getty Images

Barthman Clock in NYC ground
Since 1899, a real clock has been embedded in the sidewalk at the corner of Maiden Lane and Broadway, keeping time after over a century. It was first installed by jeweler William Barthman, who thought the curiously-placed clock would be a good way to attract customers. Hal Mathewson/NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images

NYC Financial District underground plants
After a 1975 archaeological excavation revealed well preserved centuries-old sites buried underneath the Financial District, the city placed glass portals over them so you can peek into the past.Lisa Brewster/Flickr

Redstone Rocket in Grand Central Terminal
There is an urban legend that the Redstone Rocket, the missile that carried the first American to orbit, poked a hole in the ceiling of the Grand Central concourse when it was displayed there in 1957. However, the hole was made to anchor a stabilizing wire to hold the rocket, not by the rocket’s tip, which did not reach the ceiling. Walter Sanders/Getty Images

Tom Otterness's Life Underground in NYC subway
Tom Otterness, the creator of the "Life Underground" statues at the 14th Street/Eighth Avenue subway station, once shot and killed a dog for his 1977 film project Shot Dog Film. He has since apologized for his actions.dancingdentist/Flickr

NYC McSorley's Bar's Wishbones
A group of soldiers drinking at McSorley's Bar in 1917 each left wishbones dangling from a cord at the bar. They said they would reclaim when they came home safely from WWI. The ones left by soldiers who did not return were left hanging to this day, where they continued to accumulate dust.

City health inspectors forced the owner of McSorley's to clean the dust off the bones in 2011, but the bones still hang above the bar.

NYC Subway Voice
The voices that make pre-recorded announcements on the New York City subway trains are those of real people. They were recorded by Carolyn Hopkins, who works out of her home studio in Maine, and Bernie Wagenblast, from New Jersey. The male voice who says “stand clear of the closing doors, please" is that of Charlie Pellett, a Brit who moved to New York as a child.MTAEnthusiast10/Wikimedia Commons

New York City is one of the most unique cities in the world.

This vibrant metropolis has birthed and housed some of the greatest artists, statesmen, inventors, criminals, and entrepreneurs in human history.

But while the city might be known to all for its towering stature, there are still fascinating facts about New York City that remain unknown to most observers.

With its long, strange history, New York City has more bizarre facts about it and its inhabitants than just about anywhere in the world. Boasting a population of eight million, its giant size also means that so many things have happened in this bustling metropolis.

Built out of a collection of cities, each with their own unique past, and as a repository of immigrants from across the world, New York has enough strange secrets to baffle any common tourist. These New York facts elucidate many of these unusual aspects of this city.

Enjoy these interesting facts about New York City? Next, check out these bizarre vintage photos from the annals of New York City history. Then, learn these amazing facts that will make you the most interesting person in the room and fun little factoids that'll dazzle your friends and family.

Gabe Paoletti
Gabe Paoletti is a New York City-based writer and a former Editorial Intern at All That's Interesting. He holds a Bachelor's in English from Fordham University.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Paoletti, Gabe. "32 Weird New York Facts Even New Yorkers Probably Don’t Know." AllThatsInteresting.com, December 19, 2017, https://allthatsinteresting.com/interesting-new-york-facts. Accessed May 19, 2024.