150 Fascinating & Fun Facts about New York City, New York

New York City is arguably the planet’s most famous city. It is often considered the cultural, media, and financial capital of the world and is the pride of many Americans.

Below we’ll delve into “The Big Apple” with some fascinating and fun New York City facts. Also see these fun facts about New York State!

General New York City Facts

  • New York City is located in New York state, but it is not the state’s capital (that would be Albany).
  • With 8.8 million residents, New York City is the largest city in the United States, with around double the population of Los Angeles and more than triple the population of Chicago.
  • New York City is the second largest city in North America, after Mexico City. It is the 4th largest in Western Hemisphere, after São Paulo (Brazil), Lima (Peru) and Mexico City.
  • On a global scale, New York City proper (as defined by the official city limits) is the 41st largest city in the world, sitting between Luanda, Angola and Wuhan, China.
  • The much larger Metropolitan New York Area spills into parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, which is why it is also called the “Tri-State Area.”
  • Different sources cite the population of Metropolitan New York City as anywhere between 18 and 21 million. It is usually listed as around 9th to 11th largest metropolitan area in the world, comparable to Beijing, China and Osaka, Japan.
  • Around half of all New York state residents live in the Greater New York Area, while 6% of all Americans are Greater New York City residents.
The skyline of New York City seen across the water at night
New York City skyline
  • New York City is located in the southernmost part of the state.
  • New York City proper includes five boroughs: Staten Island, Manhattan Island, Brooklyn and Queens on Long Island, and The Bronx (the only borough on the mainland).
  • If Brooklyn were its own city, it would be the 4th largest in the country, after NYC, LA, and Chicago, but with more people than Houston or Phoenix.
  • Several other small islands also belong to New York City, including Liberty Island, part of Ellis Island (which is shared with New Jersey), Governors Island, Rulers Bar Hassock, and Roosevelt Island.
  • In total, 80% of New York City’s land is on islands.
  • New York City sits at the same latitude as Naples, Italy.
Ellis Island in the foreground, with the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in the background
Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in New York City was 106°F (41°C) in 1936, while the lowest was −15°F (−26°C) in 1934.
  • More Chinese (nearly 1 million) and Jewish people (over 1 million) live in New York City than in any other city outside of the Asian continent and Israel, respectively.
  • New York City is considered the world’s most linguistically diverse city, with more than 800 languages being spoken there.
  • After a group of British captured New Amsterdam from the Dutch, they gave it a new name: New York. The name was changed in honor of the Duke of York, who had organized their mission.
A vendor selling T-shirts and other items that say "I love NY" in New York City
“I love NY” T-shirts for sale in New York City
  • Some common nicknames for New York City are “The City that Never Sleeps”, “The Big Apple”, “The City So Nice They Named it Twice” (after the fact that we have to say “New York, New York” for the city and state), and “Gotham” (a nickname that predates its usage in Batman comics).
  • Although the city has no official slogan, unofficial ones have been “I Love New York” (actually the official slogan of the state), “I’m in a New State of Mind”, “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave,” and “New York is For Lovers”.
  • People from New York City are called New Yorkers, while residents of the New York State are called Empire Staters.
  • The New York City flag shows three vertical stripes of blue, white and orange – the three colors from the flag of the Dutch Republic that flew over the city when it was founded by Dutch colonists. The city’s seal is featured in the center.
The New York City flag
The official flag of New York City
  • New York City’s seal features a bald eagle, a Native American, a beaver, a windmill and a set of flour barrels. All of which represent the US, the region’s original inhabitants, the Dutch settlers, and industry, respectively. It also has the date the city was established, 1625.
  • New York City has 8 sister cities: Budapest (Hungary), Jerusalem (Israel), Johannesburg (South Africa), London (England), Madrid (Spain), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), and Beijing (China).
  • Manhattan has one sister district: Seocho district of Seoul, South Korea, while Brooklyn has 10 such relationships.

Interesting Facts about New York City Places

  • New York City is the most photographed city in the world.
A view of the whole Statue of Liberty and Liberty island viewed across water and straight on
The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island
  • New York City was home to the world’s tallest building from 1908 to 1973. This stretch included 7 different buildings, as each one outgrew the last, including Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, and World Trade Center.
  • The current tallest building in New York City is One World Trade Center, which has 104 floors and stands 1,776 ft (541 m) tall. It was built to the replace the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the 9/11 Terrorist attacks, and has the same name as the North Tower from the World Trade Center. It is the tallest building in the US and Western Hemisphere and 7th tallest in the world.
Side view of One World Trade Center in New York City and some other buildings around it.
One World Trade Center is the country’s tallest skyscraper
  • The second tallest building in New York City is the Empire State Building, which has 102 floors and stands at 1,250 ft (381 m) tall, excluding its 203 ft (61.9 m) pinnacle, which puts it at 1,454 ft (443.2 m). It has been featured in over 250 films and TV shows, including King Kong, Sleepless in Seattle, and Independence Day.
  • Today there are just over 300 skyscrapers (150 meter-plus) in NYC, not quite as many as Hong Kong or Shenzhen, China.
  • In the 1984 film Ghostbusters, the god Gozer arrives at the top of 55 Central Park West apartment building in New York City, and at the end, Stay Puft marshmallow man climbs to the top of it. Today the building is sometimes called “The Ghostbusters Building” or “Spook Central”.
View of the Empire State building in New York City with many other buildings and the river behind it
Empire State Building is one of the city’s most recognizable buildings
  • The Statue of Liberty is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and the only UNESCO World Heritage Site located entirely in NYC. The colossal structure of Lady Liberty was given to America as a gift from France to symbolize their friendship in 1886. The statue is located on Liberty Island in the New York harbor.
  • The seven spikes on the Statue of Liberty represent the seven continents and seven oceans of the world, which indicates Liberty as a universal concept.
  • Times Square used to be called Longacre Square, but was thus renamed after the New York Times moved there in 1904.
  • Other iconic buildings in New York City include the triangular Flatiron Building, Madison Square Garden (sometimes called the “world’s most famous arena”), United Nations Headquarters, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Woolworth Building, and Radio City Music Hall.
Nighttime scene of Times Square in New York City with crowds of people
Busy Times Square
  • Other famous locations in New York City include Rockefeller Plaza (the square in front of Rockefeller Center with its towering Christmas tree and skating rink in winter), Broadway, Wall Street, the 9/11 Memorial, and Fifth Avenue (famous for shopping and one of the most expensive streets in the world).
  • The two most famous bridges in New York City are the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, both which connect Manhattan to Brooklyn.
  • Central Park in Manhattan is the world’s most famous and most filmed park. It is the most visited park in the country, with 42 million visitors per year.
  • The Guggenheim Museum is the famous building by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and seen as his masterpiece. It is known for its interior ramp that spins upward. Today there are 4 other Guggenheim Museums, in Bilbao (Spain), Venice (Italy), Abu Dhabi (UAE), and Berlin (Germany).  
Partial aerial view of Central Park, with a strip of skyscrapers between it and the river
Central Park is a green oasis surrounded by urban jungle
  • Grand Central Terminal near the Chrysler Building is arguably the world’s most iconic train station. It is the second busiest train station in North America, after Penn Station, which is also in New York City.
  • In fact, Grand Central Terminal is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, with 21.6 million visitors in 2018. This number excludes subway and train passengers.

New York City Society Facts

  • New York City was the birthplace of hip hop, punk rock (along with London, England), graffiti, disco and salsa music, and artistic movements such as Harlem Renaissance and Abstract Expressionism.
  • The Waldorf Astoria New York is a luxury hotel responsible for two culinary inventions: the Waldorf Salad (lettuce, apple, celery and walnut) and Eggs Benedict.
Some New York style pizzas on a metal counter for sale, with some slices taken
New York-style pizza is usually sold by the slice
  • Lombardi’s Pizza in NYC claimed the title of first pizzeria in America when it opened in 1905.
  • New York has its own style of pizza, which is very large and has thin crust. Today, there are said to be around 1600 pizzerias in New York City.
  • Spaghetti and meatballs were invented by Italian immigrants in NYC.
  • When an English baker brought crumpets to NYC in 1875 and made them a little thinner, he called them “English muffins”.
  • There are 5 Michelin 3-star restaurants in NYC, more than any other city in the US. The longest running ones are Per Se and Le Bernardin.
  • The Twinkie, teddy bears, ice cream cones, Sweet ‘N Low, and Scrabble were invented in New York City.
A street sign from New York City that says "Gay Street"
Gay Street in NYC’s LGBTQ+ district, Greenwich Village
  • The Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village in NYC in 1969 were the watershed event in the gay liberation movement. The event was remembered in the world’s first gay pride parade a year later.
  • New York City has the largest LGBTQ+ population in the US, although several cities have a higher percentage of LGBT+ folks, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Atlanta.
  • Going topless is legal in New York City.
  • 60.87% of New York residents voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
  • There are 21 magazines with a primary focus on New York City, including Billboard, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker, and Seventeen.
Entrance to the New York Times building in NYC
The New York Times building
  • Over 300 movies are filmed in New York City every year. NYC and LA are neck and neck when it comes to most popular filming location.
  • Famous movies filmed in New York City include The Godfather, The Wolf of Wall Street, Birdman, When Harry Met Sally, Taxi Driver, Ghostbusters, Saturday Night Fever, King Kong, and countless more.
  • TV shows filmed or set in New York City include Friends, Sesame Street, Gossip Girl, Will and Grace, How I Met Your Mother, Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Sex and the City.
  • While the TV series Seinfeld is set in NYC, it was mostly filmed in Los Angeles.
Seasame Street is a fictional street in Manhattan. Today, there’s an intersection there with a Sesame Street street sign, placed there in 2019.
  • The classic books The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, and The Age of Innocence are set in New York City.
  • Well-known songs about NYC include “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” by the Beastie Boys, “N.Y. State of Mind” by Nas, “Rockaway Beach” by the Ramones, “Chelsea Hotel #2” by Leonard Cohen, and “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra.

New York City Economy Facts

  • The Greater New York area has the largest economy in the United States, with the Greater Los Angeles area coming in 2nd and the Greater Chicago area coming in 3rd. It is considered the world’s largest urban economy.
  • NYC is one of the world’s most expensive cities. The average rent was $5000 per month as of mid-2022.
A row of apartment blocks in New York City, with stairs leading up to one door.
Typical apartment blocks in NYC
  • New York City has 107 billionaires (the only city in the world with more than 100 of them), with a combined net worth of over 640 billion USD, roughly equivalent to the GDP of Argentina or Switzerland.
  • The richest person in New York City is former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, with a net worth of 82 billion USD.
  • It costs around $600 to park a car for a month in NYC, on average, which is more than the rent for an apartment in some other cities.
  • The most expensive home ever sold in the US was a penthouse in NYC. It went for $238 million.
Some famous brand names headquartered in New York City
Famous NYC brands
  • New York City is home to 44 Fortune 500 companies, including Pfizer, Macy’s, Fox, and Ralph Lauren.
  • Other companies headquartered in New York City include Avon, Maybelline, Anna Sui, Loehmann’s, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, AOL, Bloomberg, CBS, HBO, MTV, Nickelodeon, Time, Weight Watchers, and Reader’s Digest.
  • NYC has more crypto-funded start-ups than any other city in the US.
  • New York City’s crime rate is about half that of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but double that of Irving, Texas.
  • According to a 2022 study, New York City workers have the nation’s most stressful commute.
Several yellow taxis waiting at an intersection in Manhattan, NYC
Iconic NYC taxis
  • Honking of car horns is technically illegal in NYC except as a warning of danger.
  • There are 13,587 yellow taxis in New York City, more than any other city in the US, and they are an icon of the city. However, their numbers have dropped since the introduction of Uber and other ride-share apps.
  • The John F. Kennedy International Airport is the 6th busiest airport in the US. It served 62,551,072 million passengers in 2019.
  • 17.95% of people in New York City live below the poverty line.

Famous New York City People

  • Actresses Jennifer Lopez, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Claire Danes, and Lindsay Lohan were born in New York City.
  • Actors Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Robert Downey Jr, Adam Sandler, and Eddie Murphy were born in New York City.
  • Two US presidents were born in New York City: Theodore Roosevelt and Donald Trump.
Famous New Yorkers Theodore Roosevelt, Blondie, Eddir Murphy, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Robert De Niro
  • Singers Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Cardi B, Alicia Keys, and Christina Aguilera were born in New York City.
  • Other bands and musicians from New York City include The Ramones, Kiss, Blondie, Vampire Weekend, and Talking Heads.
  • The poets and founders of the Beat Generation, like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs all met at Columbia University in New York City before moving to San Francisco, where the movement came together.

New York City Sports Facts

  • New York City has 11 major professional sports teams: New York Giants and New York Jets (NFL), New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets (NBA), New York Yankees and New York Mets (MLB), New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils (NHL), New York Red Bulls and New York City FC (MLS).
  • New York City and LA are the only two US cities with more than 1 team in each of the four major sports.
The logos of some famous NYC sports teams
Some of New York City’s most famous teams
  • The NFL, NHL, MBA, and MLB are all headquartered in New York City.
  • New York City has 5 Super Bowl wins, 4 by the Giants and 1 by the Jets; 8 Stanley Cup wins, 4 by the Rangers and 4 by the Islanders; 29 World Series wins, 27 by the Yankees, 10 by the Giants, and 2 by the Mets; and 2 NBA Championship wins by the Knicks.
  • The NY Yankees have had many all-time greats as part of their team, such as Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Derek Jeter, and Lou Gehrig.
Madison Square Garden entrance on the street in NYC
Entrance to the famous Madison Square Garden
  • The New York City FC is the first and only MLS team to play in the five boroughs of New York City.
  • New York City has hosted the US Golf Open on five different occasions in the last decade.
  • The 2013 MLB All Star Game and the 2014 Super Bowl were hosted by New York City.

New York City History Facts

  • The Lenape people were the original inhabitants of the New York City area.
  • Dutch settlers founded New York City in 1624 as “New Amsterdam,” and the city was officially established a year later.
  • The oldest house in New York City that still remains today, Wyckoff House, was built in 1652.
Library building with columns and water fountain in front of it at Columbia University in NYC
Columbia University
  • In 1664, New Amsterdam was captured by the British and renamed New York. When defending the city, the Dutch built a wall, hence the name of today’s “Wall Street”.
  • In 1693, the first bridge from the mainland to Manhattan was built. It was called King’s Bridge and wasn’t demolished until 1917.
  • By the 1740s, 1 in 5 people in New York City were slaves.
  • In 1754, Columbia University was founded as “King’s College” in Manhattan, becoming the first in the state and 5th oldest in the country.
  • At the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775, the British assembled the largest ever (at that time) fleet of 30,000 sailors and soldiers just off Staten Island. The next year, the British drove George Washington out of the city.
A statue of George Washington in front of Federal Hall in NYC
Washington statue in front of Federal Hall
  • In 1789, New York City became the nation’s first capital after the Constitution was written and signed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The United States Bill of Rights was drafted in NYC, and the first US Supreme Court sat there.
  • The first US President, George Washington, was inaugurated on April 30, 1789 at Federal Hall on Wall Street.
  • By 1790, NYC had surpassed Philadelphia as the largest city in the US.
  • In 1801, the popular tabloid newspaper New York Post was first established as the New York Evening Post, a Federalist newspaper.
  • The population of New York City passed 100,000 in the early 1810s.
Street sign that says Wall Street and two American flags on the right
Wall Street
  • New York City’s first public transportation route was established in 1827. The transportation, called “Accommodation”, consisted of a 12-seat stagecoach that ran from the Battery to Bleecker Street along Broadway.
  • From 1845-1850, the potato famine in Ireland led to a wave or Irish migrants in NYC.
  • The New York Times was founded in 1851.
  • Central Park was opened in 1858 as a place where both rich and poor could escape the congested streets around it.
  • The population of New York City reached one million in 1875, have multiplied by 10 times in less than 70 years.
  • In the 19th century, oysters were so popular in New York that the shells from the oysters were used to pave Pearl Street.
One of the towers of Brooklyn Bridge, with skyscrapers in NYC in the background
Brooklyn Bridge
  • On February 14, 1870 the first regular elevated railway service began in New York City.
  • In 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was opened. Before that, most passengers and freight had crossed the river by ship.
  • A year after the Civil War ended, in 1886, the Statue of Liberty was erected.
  • In 1892, a teenager from Ireland named Annie Moore was the first to enter the US at the Immigration Center on Ellis Island. 12 million other immigrants would follow over the next 62 years.
  • In 1898, the boroughs of New York consolidated into one city.
  • In 1904, the New York City Subway began operating. Today, it is the largest subway system in the Western Hemisphere.
A turquoise colored entrance to the NYC subway
The NYC subway
  • The worst maritime disaster in NYC history happened in 1904, when over 1000 Germans died onboard the PS General Slocum when it caught fire and sank in the East River. It was the second-worst maritime disaster in US history, after the explosion of the Sultana near Memphis, Tennessee.
  • In 1908, Singer Building surpassed Philadelphia City Hall as the tallest building in the world.
  • Several other NYC buildings would follow with the title, including Empire State Building in 1931, a title it would hold for 40 years. It and several other ones were built during the Great Depression.
  • During Prohibition (1920-1933), speakeasy-style bars became popular in New York City.
  • In 1925, New York City overtook London as the most populous in the world.
  • After the United Nations was formed in San Francisco in 1945, NYC was chosen as the headquarters. The first facility was in Queens, but it was moved to Manhattan in 1951.
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport first opened in 1948.
New York City’s JFK International Airport
  • In the summer of 1969, the Stonewall Riots took place in NYC in response to a police raid on a gay bar. A year later, a parade honoring the event became the world’s first Pride Parade.
  • The Bronx went into major decline in the 1960s and 70s, with much poverty, arson, and race riots. The fueled the birth of hip hop.
  • In 1977, there was a major blackout in NYC, resulting in looting and other crimes.
  • In the 1980s, NYC’s financial situation improved and Wall Street once again became the world capital of finance.
  • In 1989, NYC’s first African American mayor was elected, David Dinkins.
A yellow flower and USA flag on the 9/11 Memorial in New York City
The 9/11 Memorial in NYC
  • On September 11, 2001 there was a coordinated terrorist attack by radical terrorists on the World Trade Center twin towers. 2,606 people were killed in the towers and on the ground in the attack known as “9/11”.
  • In 2012, Hurricane Sandy resulted in major flooding in New York City, causing US$19 billion in damage.
  • On November 3, 2014, the One World Trade Center opened on the site of the 9/11 attack, becoming the country’s tallest building.
  • On January 21, 2017, the Women’s March became the largest single day of protest in US history, with protests in all major cities. The one in New York City was attended by the likes of Drew Barrymore, Rihanna, Yoko Ono, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robert De Niro.
  • By spring of 2020, New York City was the world’s epicenter of the COVID-19 Pandemic, resulting in an unprecedented 80-day lockdown.
Looking up the bar in a speakeasy-style bar in New York City
Speakeasy-style bar
  • On May 28, 2020, a series of protests took place in New York City after the murder of George Floyd. It resulted in a curfew from June 1 to 7, the first in the city since WWII.
  • In 2022, during the COVID-19 pandemic, speakeasy style bars became popular once again in NYC, after an initial rebirth of the style in the early 2000s.