5 Interesting Facts about NYC You May Not Have Known

A fascinating, global city spread across five boroughs, New York City resides at the confluence of the Hudson River and Atlantic Ocean. The go-to depiction of big city life in films, theater and, well, pretty much everything else, its history is rich and full of surprises. Did you know, for example, that a child in New York is born every 4.4 minutes? Or that just 51 percent of households speak only English?

Here’s a crash course on some of New York’s other interesting facts.

  1. Although no respectable New Yorker calls it that, the city got its moniker, "The Big Apple," in the 1920s. A reference to the prizes (or "big apples") granted at horse races in and around NYC, it was officially adopted as the city's nickname in 1971, during an ad campaign meant to attract tourists.
  2. In 1846, train tracks were embedded into 10th, 11th and 12th Avenues, making it easier to transport cargo into the city’s industrial areas. The West Side Cowboys once rode on horseback ahead of these freight trains, warning people to get out of the way and helping to prevent accidents. Despite the cowboys’ efforts, hundreds of adults and children were killed and injured by the trains. Phased out by 1941, the cowboys disappeared once safety measures improved.
  3. Although it’s obviously not enforced, honking is illegal in New York City. So is fortune telling and farting at — or within one hundred feet of — a church.
  4. Dutch settlers purchased the island of Manhattan from Native Americans in 1626, in exchange for traded goods valued at 60 guilders, today’s equivalent of about $1,050.
  5. The American comic book got its start in New York — a.k.a. Gotham City — in the early 1930s. Created to inexpensively repackage and resell newspaper comic strips, comic books later came to feature superheros, predominantly in New York-sized cities. Marvel Comics broke the mold, setting its stories explicitly in the "real" New York. For example, Peter Parker — Spider-Man — lived with his Aunt May in Forest Hills, Queens. The Baxter Building — home of the Fantastic Four — stands at 42nd and Madison Avenue. And both of the previous Spider-Man movies featured New York as a backdrop, complete with crowd scenes of “quintessential” New Yorkers.

Want to discover more of New York’s wonders? Be sure to check out our blog.

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