31 MUST KNOW Facts about the History of New York!

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31 MUST KNOW Facts about the History of New York!

I heart NYC. You heart NYC. Doesn’t everybody by now heart NYC? The world might be smitten with New York City, but how much history do we know about the Big Apple? Do you know where that nickname even came from? The nickname first came to be in the 1920s from a local newspaper’s horse racing column. The colloquial phrase was used to refer to the big money price at horse races. If you didn’t know that first fun fact, brace yourself for 31 more awesome NYC facts to come. We’re off to the races! Ready, set, go!

New York Times History

New York Times History

#1 – Nicknames Revealed!

Founded in 1851, the New York Times has won 127 Pulitzer Prices which is more than any other newspaper in the world. It is ranked 2nd in the USA for circulation, preceded by the USA Today newspaper. It’s most well-known nicknames are the NYT, NYTimes, and the Times but it’s lesser known nickname is “The Gray Lady!”

#2 – The Same Message On Every Single Front Page

Have you ever picked up an NYT newspaper and seen the words “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” inscribed on the top left-hand corner of the front page? That is the paper’s motto, and it’s one the Times stands for. They regard themselves as a national “newspaper of record.”

#3 – Newspaper By Boat

A year after the founding of the NYT, in 1852, the newspaper tried to launch a western paper called The Times Of California. The paper was delivered only when a mail boat from NY reached California. Newspaper by boat! Can you imagine? This newspaper failed as local California newspapers popped up and drew in local readers.


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New York Times Subway History

New York Times Subway History

Photo credit – static01.nyt

#4 – A Whole Lot Of Mosts…

The New York City Subway opened in 1904 and that makes it one of the world’s oldest metro systems. It also just happens to be one of the world’s most used metro systems, and it has the most metro stations than any other rapid transit system in the world. Wow, Wow, Wow! That’s three wows!

#5 –  All Day, Every Day

The NYC subway never takes a break! It runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! It has 472 stations in operation that are located throughout the New York boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

#6 – OK, One More Most

The NYC subway is one of the world’s longest metro systems clocking in a total of 245 miles of routes. It also has 665 miles of revenue track and 185 miles of non-revenue track which means a total of 850 of trackage!


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New York City Yankees History

New York City Yankees History

Photo credit – maderia.hccanet

#7 – The Genesis of the Yankees

The New York Yankees Major League Baseball (MLB) team began when Frank J. Farrell and William Stephen Devery purchased the rights to an American League (AL) club in NYC in 1902. In 1913, they became known as the Yankees. They weren’t too impressive of a team until Babe Ruth became a Yankee player after the 1919 season.

#8 – The First of Many

The Yankees won their first American League title in 1921, and their first World Series championship in 1923. They repeated their World Series victory in 1928 and then won it every year from 1936 to 1949. Clearly, many more championships followed.


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New York City Gang History

New York City Gang History

Photo credit – boweryboyshistory

#9 – When The Melting Pot Begins To Boil

It was the 1950s and America was a true melting pot. NYC was home to a vast range of ethnic minorities and migrants who were trying to make a life in the USA and maybe even achieve the American Dream. The 1950s gangs were essentially divided into ethnic groups, such as Italians, Irish, and Puerto Ricans.

#10 – What’s in a Name? Pure Intimidation.

In the 1950s, it has been estimated that there were around 6,000 gang members, and hundreds of separate gangs throughout NYC. With names like Baxter Street Dudes or the Boodle Gang or even the Pug Uglies, they sure sounded dangerous, didn’t they?

#11 – What’s the Fight About?

The gangs from the 1950s weren’t actually doing drive-by shootings and peddling drugs on street corners. Most gangs were made up of teenagers aged 12 to 19 and most of their “rumbles” where over girls and turf. Yes, they’re fights weren’t even called fights, just rumbles. As we all know, gang life sure has changed…


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Museums of New York City

Museums of New York City

#12 – The Legendary Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known simply as ‘The Met,’ was founded in 1870 and has become one of the most famous art museums of all time. Back in 1870, the Met only had 174 paintings, now it is home to over 2,000 paintings from 5,000 years worth of art from all around the world!

#13 – Super Sized Museum

The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the largest museums in the world, sizing up at 2 million square feet. It is comprised of 28 interconnected buildings and has a collection of over 33 million specimens and artifacts. Could this museum be any bigger?

#14 – An Ode to NYC

The Museum of the City of New York was founded in 1923 but switched locations from the Gracie Mansion to a new building in 1932. The museum has a collection of over 1.5 million objects related to New York, from toy collection, to clothing collection, to 1400 pieces of silverware. If it has to do with NYC, this museum certainly has it!

New York License Plates History

New York License Plates History

#15 – Well, Let’s Start With Just Initials

New York was the first state in the United States to make it compulsory for the state’s residents to register their vehicles. That was way back in 1901. People simply put their own initials on the car. That was it. It wasn’t until 1903 that there was a number system assigned. And it wasn’t until 1910 that real license plates were actually issued.

#16 –  Time to Agree

The year was 1856 and the USA, Canada, and Mexico all agreed that it was time for standardized license plates. They simply all agreed on the size, 6 inches in height by 12 inches in width. That was all it took for standard to be enacted and the rest is history!


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New York Stock Exchange History

New York Stock Exchange History

#17 – Meet Me Under The Buttonwood Tree

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) was established in May 1792 when a simple group of 24 stock rockers got together on Wall Street in NYC and signed the Buttonwood Agreement. They met under a Buttonwood tree to sign the agreement, hence the name. Charming, right?

#18 – What Was In The Agreement?

The agreement eradicated the need for auctioneers and set a standard commission rate. It also made the Tontine Coffee House its headquarters and was concentrated on government bonds. Today, the NYSE is the world’s largest stock exchange. Still on Wall Street, still trading the big bucks!


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New York Colony History

New York Colony History,

Photo credit – s3.amazonaws

#19 – From New Amsterdam to the Duke of York

The New York Colony was one of the original 13 colonies in America and was originally a Dutch colony called New Amsterdam. It was established by Peter Minuit in the year 1626 on Manhattan Island. However, in 1664 the Dutch surrendered the colony to the English and it was given the new name New York after the Duke of York. Lucky guy!

#20 – The Breadbasket Colony

So New York used to be a lot bigger! The original boundaries of the New York Colony covered the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Vermont. The New York Colony was nicknamed the breadbasket colony because wheat was one of the colony’s major crops. Wheat, that had already been ground into flour, was exported to English along with other goods such as coal and fur. You’re welcome, England.

#21 – We Aren’t Getting Sick Over Here

New York is known for its cold winters and hot summers. The New York Colony was ideal for farming due to the climate. But what else was this climate good for? Avoiding sickness! The cold winters made it harder for diseases to spread as compared to the Southern colonies. Healthy, hearty farmers up in the New York Colony thanks to the cold!

New York Knicks History

New York Knicks History

Photo credit – nbahoopsonline

#22 – Bloomers? Nope. Britches? Nope.

The New York Knicks actually has a full, elongated, proper name. The Knickerbockers. Well, that refers to the pants the original Dutch settlers in the area wore and it’s also apparently a pseudonym for Washington Irving. Well, there you have it, a sports team named after pants as well as an author.

#23 – The Holiday Spirit

When you think of the winter holidays do you think of Christmas trees and festive lights or of Basketball? Apparently, The Knicks hold the record for most games played on Christmas day, totaling in 51 games.

#24 – Unmovable

Sports teams sure do like to move around, don’t they? Depending on owners and arenas and high bidders and other nonsense, it’s hard to get a sports team to stick in one location. However, the Knicks and the Boston Celtics are the only two teams who have never, ever moved from their cities. Talk about loyalty!


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New York Giants History

New York Giants History

Photo credit – bigblueinteractive

#25 – When No. 1 is  Really No. 1

In the history of professional football, the New York Giants were the first team to retire a player’s jersey. It first happened in 1935 when Ray Flaherty left the team. The jersey was No. 1. Seriously, the No. 1 jersey was the first to be retired. Sometimes, life does just work out perfectly.

#26 – Let’s Get Technical

The New York Giants aren’t technically the New York Giants. Officially, their name is the New York Football Giants. They had to change their name in 1937 to demarcate themselves from the New York Giants of the MLB. Annoying, but true.

New York City Population History

New York City Population History

Photo credit – worldatlas

#27 – Supersized Population

New York City is the largest city in the United States with a population roughly recorded in 2016 at 8.55 million. Since the very first US census report back in 1790, NYC has held it’s number one position! It’s more than double Los Angeles’ population. NYC is big, big, big!

#28 – Population Explosion!

Back in the old days, recording the population wasn’t really a thing. In 1698, was the first recorded population for NYC and they clocked in 7,681 people. In 1800, the population was 80,000 and then by the end of the 1800s, the population had risen to 3.4 million. Talk about a population explosion!

#29 – Ups and Downs

There was a strange period of stagnation for the NYC population between 1950 to 2000 where there was almost no population growth. And in the 1970s the population fell to roughly 1 million residents due to suburban sprawl and crime rates on the rise. However, NYC officially knocked the 8 million mark out of the park in 2010. They’ve continued to steadily inch upwards ever since.

New York Immigration History

New York Immigration History

#30 – What Can You Buy For $24?

The New York Colony was officially established in 1625. The Native Americans sold the island of Manhattan to the Dutch settlers for $24, in today’s modern day currency equivalent. During the 1700s, a lot of different Europeans began to immigrate to New York, especially Germans and Africans.

#31 – By The Droves

Beginning in the 1880s, Europeans were arriving in the USA by the boatloads, and they all arrived to Ellis Island in the New York Harbor. Nearly forty percent of all of America’s population today had one ancestor go through the immigration office at Ellis Island in NYC.

Final Thoughts

When you think of New York City maybe you think of the sports teams or the humongous subway system. Maybe you think of Times Square or of Broadway! But it’s also likely you think of pizza. Italian immigrants introduced this incredible dish to NYC in 1905 and the city has never been the same! Now there are nearly 1,600 pizza places in NYC. New York City sure is a bright light in the United States, and we’ve said it once but we’ll say it again. We Heart NYC!

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About the Author Lily Allen-Duenas

Lily Allen-Duenas is a wandering yoga instructor, massage therapist, and reiki healer. For the last two years she’s been journeying around the world, teaching yoga on island resorts in Cambodia, surf hostels in Sri Lanka, and wellness centers in the Phillipines. Lily loves building her life around her passions, health, wellness, and travel. You can follow her journey at wildyogatribe.com or get social with her @wildyogatribe

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