20 Fun Facts Everyone Should Know About New York

Written by Sam Hindman
Published: November 25, 2023
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There is plenty to love about the Empire State. From the stages of Broadway right in the city’s center to the gorgeous landscapes located just upstate, it’s truly a place where people go to make their dreams become reality. However, there’s even more than what meets the eye! In this list of New York fun facts, you’ll learn firsthand exactly how complex and exciting this state is. So, whether you’re here to test your knowledge or expand it, get ready to discover a whole new perspective about the most notorious state in the US!

1. The Thirteen Colonies

To kick off our list of New York fun facts, here’s one of the national variety: New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that made up the United States. The first recorded settlement in New York was in 1614, though, and was founded by the Dutch. This particular area, which is now known as Albany, was originally called Fort Nassau.

2. Massive Library

The New York Public Library, which contains a whopping 200 kilometers of shelving to hold its nearly 50 million books, is one of the largest in the world! With such a massive size, it’s no surprise that the library took twelve years in total to build. Talk about a book lover’s paradise!

3. World’s Longest Subway System

Times Square Entrance subway station at night - New York City.

The subway system in New york is one of the largest in the world.

©pisaphotography/Shutterstock.com

The New York subway system, which residents love and hate with equal enthusiasm, is the largest and longest in the world. The system contains roughly 250 miles of routes in total. Due to its size, a challenge appropriately named “The Subway Challenge” was created. This challenge requires the competitor to stop at every one of the subway’s 472 stations.

The current record-holder for the subway challenge is a woman named Kate Jones, originally from Switzerland. This record was recorded by Guinness World Records in May of 2023.

4. Brief Stint as US Capital

While we know that the original US Capital was Philadelphia, and in the present day it’s located in Washington D.C., New York also housed the nation’s capital for a brief time. While D.C. was being built, between the years of 1785 and 1790, New York City served as the head of our nation!

5. First US Pizzaria

Our next New York fun fact is cheesy and delicious. The state isn’t known for its pizza for no reason! The state has had a long and elaborate journey with these sauce-covered spheres, as the very first pizzeria in the United States was opened right in New York City. Lombardi’s, which was established in 1895, is still serving up slices to the lovely citizens in the city to this day.

6. Insane Population Density

Crowd of anonymous people walking on busy New York City street

1 out of 12 of all US citizens are likely to live in New York City.

©blvdone/Shutterstock.com

The population density of New York is impressive. It’s the third most populous state in the US, after all! In New York City, though, there are a total of 8 million residents. To put that into perspective, that’s 1 in 12 of every person in the United States all squeezed into one city! In fact, the city alone has a population higher than the countries of Australia and Switzerland combined.

7. Home To Woodstock

With such a name, many people assumed that the infamous Woodstock Music Festival was held in the town of Woodstock. On the contrary, the festival was actually held within a small dairy farm in Bethel, NY. Why not host the massive festival in the town of the same name? Why, because they refused!

8. First Women’s Rights Convention

In 1848, New York made feminist history with the first women’s rights convention. This convention, held in Seneca Falls, NY, in 1848, marked the unofficial beginning of the women’s rights movement in the United States. This movement ultimately led to women gaining the right to vote in 1920, among several other important changes.

9. High Irish Population

For a time, New York City was home to more Irish people than Dublin!

©iStock.com/Oleksii Liskonih

The Irish potato famine of the early 1800s led to many native-born Irish people flocking to New York City. Due to this, in combination with other political issues of the time, New York City had a higher Irish population than their home country’s capital in 1850!

10. Impressive Dairy Production

When New York comes to mind, there are probably also images of glitz, glamour, showbiz, and fashion. What might not come to mind, however, are cows! A little-known New York fun fact is that the state houses 18,000 cattle farms. Because of this density of farmland, the state pushes out more dairy products each year than forty-seven other states.

11. Diversity of Speech

A true melting pot, New York City is one of the most linguistically diverse in the entire world. Nearly half of all households in the city primarily speak a language other than English, and the number of languages spoken total over 800.

12. Influence of The New York Times

The New York Times released its first edition in 1851.

©Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock.com

There are some who believe that the famous newspaper The New York Times, which released its first issue in 1851, was named after the populous area “Times Square.” Well, contrary to popular belief, the roles are actually reversed! This paper is so notorious and well-established, that the popular “Times Square” was actually named after them!

13. Birds Galore

There are roughly 800 species of birds located on the North American continent. What’s surprising is that nearly a quarter of them can be spotted right in New York City’s boroughs. Central Park isn’t a well-known bird-watching spot for no reason, after all.

14. The Brooklyn Bridge is Old

The famous Brooklyn Bridge is far older than one would assume. In fact, it’s eleven years older than the Tower Bridge in London, England! While the Tower Bridge opened in 1894, the Brooklyn Bridge was opened in 1883.

15. The Statue of Liberty Came in Pieces

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty came in several pieces that the US had to assemble themselves.

©Matej Hudovernik/Shutterstock.com

The massive and iconic statue didn’t come pre-assembled. In fact, its parts were all sent to Philadelphia back in the early 1880s. Until 1885, Lady Liberty was actually stuck in Pennsylvania due to a lack of funding! When it finally had the money to move, it had to be shipped over as 350 individual pieces.

16. Origin of License Plates

Back in 1901, New York became the first state to require drivers to have license plates on their vehicles. However, it was still quite different from today, as all of these plates were homemade instead of created and issued by the state’s government.

17. Unique Genesee River

The Genesee River, which flows through both Pennsylvania as well as New York, is one of a mere 33 rivers worldwide that flow from south to north instead of in the opposite direction.

18. The New York Post

Despite the reputation and acclaim received by the New York Times, the New York Post actually has a longer legacy. Established by founding father Alexander Hamilton, the paper has been running since 1803. This makes it not only the longest-running paper in the state but in the entire country.

19. The State is Quite Pricey

Holiday flags and the Christmas tree on a windy night in Rockefeller Center, New York City.

Holiday flags and the Christmas tree on a windy night in Rockefeller Center, New York City.

©andykazie/ via Getty Images

Though it’s not the most expensive state to live in, an honor that goes to Hawaii, New York still takes home the bronze for the third most expensive state in the US. Sandwiched between those two aforementioned states, though, is Connecticut.

20. Stocks Galore

Keeping on our theme of money, our final New York fun fact has to deal with the stock exchange. Both the largest and the second largest stock exchanges in the world are located right in the heart of New York. These are the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ respectively.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © LG Collection/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Sam Hindman is a writer at A-Z animals covering a range of topics, including pet care, plant care, pest control and travel destinations. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Multimedia Studies at Point Park University, set to graduate in the spring of 2024. A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when she isn't writing, she's spending time with her beloved cat Archie.

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