5 Crazy Facts About NYC

Impress your friends with your knowledge of these crazy facts about New York City.

1. New York Food Firsts

Food inventions that come from New York include:

  • English muffins
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Eggs benedict
  • Pasta primavera
  • Ice cream cones

Pizza is not a New York invention. It came from Italy. However, New York-style pizza-by-the-slice is world famous. The first American pizzeria, Lombardi’s Pizza, located at 32 Spring Street, opened in 1905 and is still operating.

2. Weird Freedoms and Bizarre Laws

New York has a history of weird laws and unusual freedoms. This problem happens because many regulations become part of the legal record, and there is no process to review and remove them. Once a law exists, it may stay on the books forever, even if it seems absurd.

  • Going topless, for all sexes, is legal in public.
  • Showing your breasts in public is no problem; however, if a man wears a suit jacket, his pants must match.
  • Honking is illegal, and so is farting while in church. It seems like these laws are never enforced.
  • It is against the law to take a stroll on Sunday with an ice cream cone in your pocket.
  • You might get a fine for having an illegal puppet show in your window.
  • There is no peeing on pigeons allowed in Central Park.
  • It is illegal to let your donkey sleep in your bathtub.

3. Strange Items at the Library

The New York Public Library has many strange and weird things in its archives, which include:

  • A collection of human hair with some locks from Wild Bill Hickok, Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), and Walt Whitman
  • A letter opener made from the paw of Charles Dickens’ favorite cat
  • Jack Kerouac’s boots, cigarette lighter, harmonicas, and a postcard where he wrote “blood” using some of his blood

4. Mole People

“Mole People” are homeless people who live underground in abandoned subway tunnels, railway tunnels no longer in use, airshafts, and the sewer system. There are nearly 60,000 people who sleep each night above ground in the homeless shelters provided by the city. No one knows exactly how many homeless people live underground, but the number must be huge.

The so-called “Freedom Tunnel” is packed with people. In 1980, Amtrak stopped using this tunnel for its railway line. Homeless people have used the 2.6-mile-long tunnel ever since.

There is a book about them called Tunnel People written by Teun Voeten and a documentary film called Dark Days that UK filmmaker Marc Singer produced.

5. Missing Persons

Each year there are over 13,000 missing-persons reports in New York City. Most are found, yet hundreds become added to the group of long-term missing persons when they are missing for two months or longer. Even more strange are the thousands of records of unidentified persons. These bodies the police find, and nobody knows who they are.

The New York Department of Medical Examiner works to help identify the bodies of the “Jane” and “John Does” to determine who they are. They ask families of missing persons across the country to send samples for potential DNA matching and give information for identification purposes only.

The Medical Examiner’s staff does the difficult forensic work to determine who the police just pulled out of the East River, floating face down.