I’m a sucker for trivia and fun facts so when my husband and I moved to The Big Apple, I quickly started rounding up the most interesting facts about New York City.
It’s always helpful to have some fun trivia in your back pocket just in case you find yourself in a situation that requires small talk, right?
Well, when it comes to NYC, there’s always something interesting to talk about.
I’ve spent years poring over books about the Big Apple’s fascinating history and have amassed a small collection of interesting New York City facts you might enjoy as well.
I’m not one for small talk so let’s get to it.
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Interesting Facts About New York City
If you want to become a real New Yorker, there’s only one rule: You have to believe New York is, has been, and always will be the greatest city on earth. The center of the universe.– Ellen R. Shapiro
#1. New York City is home to the first pizzeria in America
Everyone knows that you can’t visit New York City without eating your weight in pizza, but few know that New York City is home to the first pizzeria in the country.
Opened in 1905 by a native of Naples, Italy, Genaro Lombardi, Lombardi’s Pizza introduced the American people to their most passionate love affair, pizza.
The best part about this interesting NYC fact? Lombardi’s Pizza is operational to this day. In fact, they’re still churning out some of the best pizza in New York City. Which is saying a lot, considering there’s 1,600 pizzerias in New York City.
#2. New York was originally called New Amsterdam
Here’s an interesting historic fact about New York City: the city was originally called New Amsterdam. The reason? The island of Manhattan (as we know it today) was settled by the Dutch in 1624 and became an extension of the Dutch Republic.
But when the English took the island in 1664, they renamed it after the Duke of York. As such, the city has been called New York since 1664.
If you find yourself nostalgic for the good old “New Amsterdam” days, take a stroll down Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side. You’ll experience the charming buildings reminiscent of Amsterdam’s iconic triangular-shaped homes.
Local’s Tip: If you LOVE history, I highly suggest getting this little number before visiting New York City. I can’t get it out of my mind!
#3. Central Park is the most filmed location in the world
Here’s one of the most interesting facts about New York City: Central Park is featured in more than 530 movie credits (and counting) making it the most filmed location in the world.
Movies are filmed in Central Park way more than any other place on earth. For example, the second most filmed location in the world is Trafalgar Square in London, with 131 movie credits (compared to Central Park’s 530+).
As a resident of New York City, I can confirm that a lot of shows and movies get filmed in the park. On numerous occasions I’ve taken a random stroll through Central Park and accidentally walked by a film shoot, once for the Sex & the City reboot, which was so fun to watch.
You might enjoy reading: 15 Iconic Things to Do in Central Park
#4. Lady Liberty was not made in the USA
Arguably the most famous icon in New York City, the Statue of Liberty is synonymous with the freedom. Gracing the New York City skyline for more than 135 years, here’s an interesting NYC fact that tends to catch some people by surprise: the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France.
Dedicated in 1886, The Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States from the people of France in celebration of 100 years of American Independence. That’s right, our country’s unwavering symbol of freedom reigns from Paris.
Her right hand clutches a torch while the left hand holds a book inscribed July 4, 1776 in Roman numerals (the date of the Declaration of Independence). The seven spikes that adorn her crown represent the seven oceans and continents of the world, a symbol of universal liberty.
Designed by three Frenchmen, Edouard de Laboulaye, Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and Gustave Eiffel (yep, that Eiffel). Soon after dedication, the Statue of Liberty became an icon for the United States and a welcoming figure for immigrants.
The generous gift arrived to America in 350 separate pieces and took 4 months to assemble, but there’s no denying that the end result is priceless.
Further Reading: 11 Important National Park Sites in New York City
#5. About 22% of New York City’s land is used for public parks
If you’ve ever visited New York City then you’ve probably seen the splendor of NYC’s parks firsthand. There’s no denying that New York City understands the importance of public parks and acts on that knowledge. In fact, 22% of the city is dedicated specially to public parks — how’s that for an interesting fact about New York City?
Also, 99% of New York City residents are a mere 10-minute walk from a park, and NYC has some of the most beautiful city parks in the country to boot.
#6. The Empire State Building has its own zip code
The iconic Empire State Building is the 4th largest building in New York City and the 6th tallest building in the country. You probably already know that the Empire State Building is huge, but did you know that it has its own zip code?
That’s right! If you need to mail something addressed to the Empire State Building you will need to use a zip code unique to the building — 10118. Want to know another fun fact about New York City? The Empire State Building gets hit by lightning 23 times a year on average.
Further Reading: 20 ICONIC New York City Buildings You Should Be Know
#7. The New York Public Library is the second largest library in America
You simply can’t visit New York City without seeing the New York Public Library. It’s a breathtaking sight and something I highly recommend for all first-time visitors.
When it opened to the public in 1911, the New York Public Library was officially the largest marble building ever built in the country.
No small task, considering it took 16 years to construct this monolithic structure, but the wait was worth it — more than 50,000 people showed up on opening day.
Here’s my favorite NYC fact about this special place: Home to 55 million books (and some strange artifacts like locks of Walt Whitman’s hair), the New York Public Library is the second-largest library in America. Second only to the Library of Congress, this is the fourth largest library in the world.
Oh, and if you’re curious, the two lions in front of the library are called Patience and Fortitude, here’s why.
#8. There are more than 200 languages spoken in New York City
On any given day you’re bound to hear a language you’ve never heard before on the streets in New York City. The reason? There’s more than 200 languages spoken in NYC.
Some folks say there are more than 800 languages spoken in the Big Apple but I wasn’t able to find evidence to support that. Regardless, 200+ language is quite impressive! This is the reason New York City is often considered the most linguistically diverse city in the world, it’s a true melting pot.
What’s more, more than 37% of New Yorkers are born outside the the United States, so allow me to share another surprising fact about NYC: 4 out of 10 households (nearly half) speak a language other than English.
#8. More than 8 million people call New York City home
Here’s another interesting fact about New York City: it’s the most populous city in the country. With more than 8.5 million residents, New York City is home to 1 in every 38 people living in America.
For me personally that’s a tough NYC fact to fathom. To put it another way, New York City has more people than 40 of the 50 U.S. states. Let that sink in.
There’s no place in the world like New York City so it’s hard to blame folks for wanting to call this magical city home.
#9. The Brooklyn Bridge is older than London’s Tower Bridge
This is a great New York City fact for anyone looking to impress friends. When asked, most folks would guess that London’s famous Tower Bridge is older the Brooklyn Bridge but that’s not the case.
Connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in the country. Construction began in 1869 and when is was completed in 1883, it was deemed the longest suspension bridge in the world.
Alternatively, the Tower Bridge was built between 1886 and 1894. It opened to the public 11 years after the Brooklyn Bridge.
Another fun fact about the Brooklyn Bridge is that it was the first steel-wire suspension bridge in the world when it was completed in 1883.
You might enjoy reading: 12 Absorbing Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge
#10. New York City embraces diversity
New York City is a very diverse city. How diverse?
Well, how’s this for an interesting fact about New York City: NYC is home to the highest Jewish population outside of Israel, the highest Hispanic population of any US city, the highest Chinese population outside of Asia and the highest Puerto Rican population in the world.
Hard not to love a city that welcomes all!
#11. New York City is a birding paradise
It’s nearly impossible to walk through Central Park without spotting birders, especially during the spring migrating season. The reason is simple enough when considering this interesting fact about NYC: New York City is one of the best bird watching cities in the country.
In fact, of the 800 known North American bird species, 275 have been spotted in Central Park alone. Some birders claim to have spotted 100 species in a single day during migrating season — wow!
My husband is an avid bird watcher and was surprised to learn this exciting fact about New York City. Mostly because he thinks of NYC as a concrete jungle — not a place full of greenery and parks that birds would flock to.
#12. Brooklyn is bigger than you think
This is a very interesting NYC fact that caught me by surprise. With 2.6 million residents, Brooklyn (not Manhattan) is the most populous borough in New York City. In fact, if Brooklyn were a city (rather than a borough), it would be the 4th most populous city in America.
#13. The rich have spoken
New York City is home to more billionaires than anywhere else in the world. Clearly, something about the City That Never Sleeps appeals to the lifestyle of the wealthy.
What’s more, there’s more than 380,000 millionaires in the city, too.
The best part about this fun NYC fact is that you can’t always tell the millionaires apart from the rest — you never know who you’re sitting next to on the subway or who’s in front of you at the cafe.
But I will say this: Seeing a celebrity in the street never gets old!
#14. There’s 520 miles of coastline in NYC
Could this fact about New York City be true?! Yes, but it gets even better. New York City has more coastline than Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston combined.
At face value, this NYC fact might be hard to believe but you must remember that the city consists of five boroughs and all of them boast expansive coastlines, plus Manhattan is an island.
In any case, you can easily find views of the water whenever you want and thankfully there’s a lot of public parks that sit right at the water’s edge.
#15. Central Park is larger than Monaco
Monaco is study in opulence, without a doubt, but the country only spans 520 acres, compared to Central Park’s 843 acres. To truly understand the impressive size of Central Park you’d need to see if from the air, which is why the window seat on the airplane is prime. Or, if you’re bold, take a helicopter tour to take in the views.
If you circle above Central Park at night in a helicopter, you’re looking down at the most expensive real estate in the world. It’s the American Monopoly board.Ridley Scott
You might enjoy reading: 15 Fascinating Facts About Central Park
#16. New York City is home to the fifth largest museum in the world
Founded in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is often considered the best museum in New York City and it’s not hard to see why.
With more than 2 million pieces of art spanning 5,000+ years, the Met is the largest museum in the country and the fifth largest museum in the world. Averaging 6 million visitors per year, it’s also the most visited museum in New York City.
Further Reading: 20 EPIC Things to See at The Met
#17. NYC is a mecca for foodies
New York City is home to a whopping 69 Michelin-Starred restaurants — the city with sixth highest concentration of Michelin-Starred restaurants in the world. The creme de la creme is a restaurant called Eleven Madison Park which has an impressive 3 stars to its name.
#18. The LGBTQ+ Movement started in New York City
It’s easy to forget that the fight for gay rights was riddled with turbulence. Before the 1960’s it was illegal to be openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) and the laws in NYC were especially harsh towards those the LGBTQ community.
Things took a massive turn during the infamous Stonewall Uprising, which took place at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. Frustrated by unjust raids, the patrons at the Stonewall Inn decided to fight back and riots ensued. These riots catapulted the LGBTQ+ community into the limelight and led to the re-evaluation of the relationship between the police and the LGBTQ+ community.
In effect, these events completely changed the course of history in America, which is why Stonewall was deemed a National Monument in New York City. Visitors are welcome to enjoy a drink at this notable gay bar while pondering the progress made and the distance yet to go.
Today, NYC is considered a safe haven for those that identify as LGBTQ+ and that can be tied back to the movement started at Stonewall Inn.
#19. Let’s talk about the “Pizza Principle”
There’s a little known economic concept called the Pizza Principle which argues that the cost of subway ride and a slice of pizza should remain relatively equal. In fact, the cost of these two items has been rising in tandem for more than 50 years.
Currently, a one-way metro pass will run you $2.75 and you can definitely find a slice for that price, so the principle still holds true.
#20. Horn Honking is illegal in New York City
If you’ve ever visited NYC then you’d like I was pulling your leg by sharing this unusual fact about NYC, but I’m serious.
Admittedly the law is barely enforce, technically honking your horn is illegal except in an emergency. The fine for unnecessary honking clocks in at a steep $350.
#21. New York City is the 6th Most expensive City in the world
This interesting New York City fact hardly needs an explanation as anyone that has visited or living in NYC can attest. Year after year, the Big Apple shows up on lists as one of the most expensive cities in the world, and in 2021 we were sixth on the list. Ouch.
For NYC residents, housing is at the top of everybody’s mind (and budget). After rents dipped during the pandemic, prices have come roaring back. Rent prices in NYC are currently up a whopping 34.4% over the past year! Compared to similar cities, this is well beyond the growth of Seattle apartments (+21%) and double the growth of San Francisco rents (+17%).
#22. The high cost of hot dogs
While walking the city streets you’ll practically rub elbows with hot dog stands on every block – they seem to be everywhere!
But I bet you didn’t know this unusual fact about New York City: operating a hot dog stand comes at a hefty price. The price of the permit varies by location, but if you want to park your stand inside Central Park, you’ll be looking at a base permit fee of $125,000 to nearly $300,000.
The crazy part? The steep permit fees are somewhat justified, a lot of these vendors pull off some crazy profits.
#23. NYC gets more than 66 million visitors per year
You read that right. If you’ve ever been on the streets of NYC you might not find this to be a surprising fact about New York City because the streets always seem crowded. But regardless, the fact that more than 66.6 million people visit New York City every year is nothing to scoff at.
#24. How many people ride the NYC subway every day?
Wondering how many people ride the subway per day in NYC? Then you might find this interesting NYC fact surprising: more than 4.3 million people ride the subway every day. That means that more than 1 billion people use the subway every single year.
Further Reading: 20 Helpful NYC Travel Tips for First Time Visitors
Cool facts about New York City (Post Summary)
- New York City is home to the first pizzeria in America
- New York was originally called New Amsterdam
- Central Park is the most filmed location in the world
- Lady Liberty was not made in the USA
- About 22% of New York City’s land is used for public parks
- The Empire State Building has its own zip code
- The New York Public Library is the second largest library in America
- There are more than 200 languages spoken in New York City
- The Brooklyn Bridge is older than London’s Tower Bridge
- New York City embraces diversity
- New York City is a Birding paradise
- Brooklyn is bigger than you think
- The rich have spoken
- There’s 520 miles of coastline in NYC
- Central Park is larger than Monaco
- New York City is home to the fifth largest museum in the world
- NYC is a mecca for foodies
- The LGBTQ+ Movement started in New York City
- Let’s talk about the “Pizza Principle”
- Horn Honking is illegal in New York City
- New York City is the 6th Most expensive City in the world
- The high cost of hot dogs
- More than 66 million people visit NYC every year
- About 4.3 million people ride the subway every day
I hope you enjoyed this quick list of cool facts about New York City. Let me know if there’s any I missed and I’ll add them to the list!