Fun Facts about New York
It is hard to miss the Link NYC kiosks while walking around Manhattan. While they have been controversial in many ways, including how their free internet was being misused initially and for the fact that they have cameras in them, I love the series they run of New York facts, which almost always manage to surprise me.
I got it in my head that I wanted to read the entire series of #LinkNYCFacts, which I have searched for unsuccessfuly online. So I have started going down the rabbithole of compiling a list of them, which has been a challenge for a couple of reasons – a lot of the older ones are not shown anymore so I am using Google overtime to try and find them, and because more often than not I spot an NYC Fact from across the street, and the screen changes by the time I actually get my phone ready to take a picture (I have pasted fact 498 about the Plaza Hotel below so you can understand what I mean). I keep chuckling about how confused anyone who monitors the cameras for these Link NYC kiosks must be as there are some kiosks that show these facts more than others, and ever since I got the idea for this post, I tend to position myself close to them and just keep clicking away with my phone for 10-15 minutes to build on my NY fact collection.
I’m still working on compiling a more complete list of the NYC facts, and figuring out how to paste a table that I am managing them in with the related sources – yes, for each! – on this webpage. In the meantime, here are the ones that I have managed to take pictures of over the years –
The difference between a Broadway show and Off-Broadway show is the number of seats in the theater The coldest New Year’s Eve Ball drop ever recorded was in 1917 – it was 1 degree! Broadway’s first “long-run” musical was ‘The Elves’. It was performed 50 times in 1857 The first NYC Pride March took place in 1970, a year after the Stonewall Uprising 498 – When the Plaza Hotel first opened in 1907 rooms were $2.50 per night All three current Supreme Court justices were born in NYC (this was in 2018) Six couples have been married in a pool or tub of Serendipity’s Frrrozen Hot Chocolate 1927 was one of Broadway’s most prolific years, with 264 new shows There were an estimated 100,000 speakeasies operating in NYC during prohibition Althea Gibson was the NYC women’s paddle tennis champion at the age of 12 The designer of NYC’s subway map rode all the lines with his eyes closed to get a sense of their turns Construction began for the Holland Tunnel in both NYC and New Jersey and met in the middle Gramercy Park opens to the public for only one hour a year, for Christmas Eve caroling The Pepsi Cola sign in Long Island City is an official NYC landmark The first kinetoscope parlor, the predecessor of the movie theater, opened in Manhattan in 1894 After college, Gene Simmons taught sixth grade in East Harlem Historic Fort Hamilton is the only active duty military post in NYC Brooklyn’s Living Torah Museum is home to the world’s smallest Torah, which is two inches tall The New-York Historical Society is home to the largest painting by Picasso in the US Williamsburg used to be spelled Williamsburgh, but the ‘h’ was officially dropped in 1854 Pratt Institute is home to the oldest continuously operating, steam-powered electrical plant in the US Brooklyn’s Rooftop Reds vineyard is the world’s first commercial rooftop vineyard The ‘P’ and ‘C’ in Long Island City’s Pepsi-Cola sign stand at about four stories tall ‘The New York Times Capsule’ designed by Santiago Calatrava will be sealed until the year 3000 Former Yankees pitcher Don Larsen is the only player to ever throw a perfect game in the World Series In 1938 the Topps baseball card company began as a family chewing gum business in Brooklyn A troupe of boys called the Aquazzanies performed comedy and diving shows at NYC pools in the 1940s The first fully accessible playground in the US opened in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in 1984 One block of Cedar Street in the Financial District receives no direct sunlight on the winter solstice Former New York Liberty player Becky Hammon was the first female, full-time, assistant coach in the NBA The Archive of Contemporary Music on TriBeCa has as many musical recordings as the Library of Congress Saturday Night Live’s first musical director also produced music for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ The New York City FC’s badge was inspired by an old subway token In 1790 the first census documented 33,131 people in NYC The cherry trees on the east side of Central Park’s reservoir blossom earlier than those on the west side Singer Tony Bennett is an accomplished painter and his work is on display at NYC’s National Arts Club The NYPL’s most checked-out book of all time is ‘The Snowy Day’ by Ezra Jack Keats Con Edison maintains nearly 90,000 miles of underground cables to supply NYC’s power Manhattan’s Tin Pan Alley recently received landmark status for its impact on American music A teenager from New York recently discovered a new planet while interning at NASA After the 1890 federal census was damaged in a fire, the 1890 NYC Police Census was used as a substitute The first doughnut machine made its debut in NYC in 1920 The Whitney Museum sells honey produced by two beehives that sit on its roof NYC Subway map designer Nobuyuki Siraisi was a sculptor and painter A conveyor belt sorts 30,000 items per day to deliver them to the New York and Brooklyn Libraries Three family-run, NYC-based companies make nearly all of the city’s wooden water tanks NYC’s electric, telephone and telegraph cables were all above ground until an 1888 blizzard destroyed them Fairway Market began in the 1930s as a produce stand on the Upper West Side There are 700 native Seke speakers in the world and 50 of them live in the same Flatbush apartment building In 1947 Marie M. Daly became the first black woman in the US to earn a PhD in chemistry The New York City Ballet can go through up to 11,000 pointe shoe in a year Basquiat’s ‘Untitled (Gem Spa)’ was named after a Lower East Side newsstand In the early 1900s, Coney Island had its own Mardi Gras with parades, floats and pageants In 1935 Mayor La Guardia banned the sale or possession of baby artichokes in NYC The NY Giants’ Emlen Tunnell was the first Black player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Queens resident Ralph Bunche was the first African American to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize The Yule Log video loop was created by NYC TV executive Fred Thrower in 1966 The Bronx Library Center was NYC’s first ‘green’ library and is made of 20 percent recycled material Sega designers surveyed Central Park passersby to finalize Sonic the Hedgehog’s character design The Catskill Aqueduct, part of the NYC water supply system, spans 92 miles In 1930 there were around 500 candy stores on the Lower East Side The first two MSG buildings were located where the New York Life Building now sits Harlem native Harry Belafonte’s album ‘Calypso’ was the first by a solo artist to sell one million copies Brooklyn native Maurice Ashley was the first African American international chess master The 2010 census recorded 2,126 NYC residents who were 100 years or older A recent NYC art exhibition featured fruits and vegetables that were later served to guests as they ripened The Williamsburg and Brooklyn bridges are nearly equal in length, but the former is 4.5 feet longer Many of NYC’s early 19th century water pipes were made from hollowed-out pine tree trunks A Metro-North car was once converted into a jungle-themed tiki bar as part of an advertising campaign Liz Montague recently became the first known Black female cartoonist to be published in the New Yorker Black educator Elizabeth Jennings worked to desegregate the NYC transit system in the 1850s In the late 18th century, cattle herders from as far as Ohio came to the Bowery to sell their livestock Fort Greene’s Rhodora Wine Bar is entirely waste free A Brooklyn park is named after Grammy Award-winning jazz artist Betty Carter Prosthetic legs and false teeth are among the items collected by the LIRR Lost and Found The Bronx’s Dr Helen Rodriguez Trias was the first Latina director of the American Public Health Association Brooklyn’s Duffield Street is co-named Abolitionist Place for its ties to the Underground Railroad In 1965 Brooklyn’s Cisero Murphy became the first and only Black player to win a world billiards championship One of the DOT’s sign shops in Queens produces over 120,000 road signs per year Stuyvesant Street is the only compass-tested east-to-west street in Manhattan The NYPD first assigned women to patrol duty in 1973 In the early 1900s the Central Park Zoo was home to Hattie the elephant, who played the harmonica Brooklyn’s Sarah J Garnet became the first Black female principal of the NYC school system in 1863 In 1950s the Knicks became the first NBA team to sign a Black player Ella Fitzgerald’s career began after a performance at the Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night When the subway opened in 1904, the NYC mayor was at the controls for the inaugural ride About 40% of the US population watched The Beatles 1964 performance on NYC’s Ed Sullivan Show The Black-owned New York Rens won the first basketball world championship in 1939 The State of New York owns the Apollo, and rents it out to the Apollo Theater Foundation for $1 a year Katherine Waiker, the keeper of the Robbins Reef Lighthouse in Staten Island, saved over 50 lives In 1962 NYC instituted a short-lived traffic system which allowed pedestrians to cross streets diagonally The ‘Red Cap Preacher’ held lunchtime services in a railroad car on Track 13 of Grand Central in the 1940s Suffragist, aid worker and writer Cynthia Leonard was the first woman to run for mayor of NYC in 1988 Central Park was originally proposed to be located along the East River between 66th street and 75th street Henry David Thoreau worked as a tutor in Staten Island for 6 months
You can check out some of the New York
Quotable Quotes I have chanced upon on the LinkNYC kiosks over the years.