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Fun facts about Manhattan and New York City

Things to do / Travel Guide

Manhattan Fun Facts

  • In the 1660s New York City's “skyline” was dominated by a two-story-high windmill.
  • When the Dutch still controlled the region, Wall Street was the city limit and there was actually a wall there.
  • Manhattan's Chinatown is the largest Chinese enclave in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The vaults 80 feet beneath the Federal Reserve Bank on Wall Street store more than 25% of the world's gold bullion (and you thought it was all in Fort Knox!).
  • Cleopatra's Needle, a 3,000-year-old Egyptian ruin, can actually be found in New York's Central Park. In 1879 it was given to the city as a gift by the Khedive of Egypt. The 220-ton, 66-foot-high monument took a decade to be fully transported.

New York Fun Facts

  • Why are New York Yellow Cabs yellow? Because John Hertz, the company's founder, read a study that concluded yellow was the easiest color for the eye to spot.
  • The Bayonne Bridge is almost identical to the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, but it is actually two feet longer. Completed a few months beforehand, the Bayonne Bridge was the world's longest steel arch bridge. Rumor has it that the only reason for those two extra feet was to beat the Australians.
  • The Outerbridge Crossing, connecting Staten Island and New Jersey, is actually named in honor of Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge.

Interesting Facts about New York City

  • The Manhattan grid pattern produces an effect known as “Manhattanhenge” (like Stonehenge) as, on two days - around May 28th and around July 12th - sunset is directly aligned with the street grid pattern. This means the sun can be seen setting exactly over the centerline of every Manhattan street. A similar effect occurs during sunrise on two winter days, understandably less popular.
  • The Dutch traded New Amsterdam (a.k.a., New York City) to the British in the 1667 Treaty of Breda in exchange for Pulau Run, an obscure tiny Indonesian island once known for its nutmeg.
  • For decades, the title of “tallest building in the world” switched hands almost 10 times, all the while remaining in Manhattan, before settling on the Empire State Building, which retained the title for decades to come. It was finally overtaken by One World Trade Center in 1970.

Brooklyn Fun Facts

  • The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is so long, 4,260 feet to be exact, that the towers on either end were built a few inches out of parallel to accommodate for the curvature of the earth.
  • Brooklyn was an independent city, rivaling New York, until 1898.
  • Once the third largest city in The United States, Brooklyn would now be the fourth largest, right behind Chicago and Los Angeles.
  • The Battle of Brooklyn was the first major battle in the Revolutionary War after independence was declared. General George Washington led the American troops. He lost the battle, but, of course, won the war.