20 New York Facts That Not Everyone Knows About

Facts Chief

30 Oct 2017

40% Percent of the State Population Live in New York City

New York facts reveal the state is one of the most densely populated in the USA. The state population is currently the 4th largest in the country. To make matters worse, the population is not spread out evenly. New York City alone hosts 40% of the entire state population. Two out of every three people in New York State live within the New York City Metropolitan area. This makes the Big Apple one of the most populous urban areas in the whole world.

New York State Has 4 of the World’s 10 Most Visited Tourist Attractions

If you are planning a trip to New York, rest assured that you will not run out of places to visit! New York is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Besides the skyscrapers, flashing neon lights, and endless shopping destinations, New York has a lot more to offer to visitors. The state is home to four out of the 10 most visited tourist attractions in the entire world. These attractions are Times Square, Central Park, Niagara Falls, and Grand Central Terminal.

New York Was the 5th State to License Same-Sex Marriages

One of the many New York facts relating to the people that live there is that it is well known for its LGBT community. The movement for LGBT rights started in New York as early as 1969. On July 24, 2011, New York was the fifth state, after New Hampshire, to legalize same-sex marriages. The Marriage Equality Act also recognizes same-sex marriages that were licensed in other jurisdictions. It is estimated that the act of legalizing same-sex marriage rewarded the state with $210 million in economic impact within three years after the law took effect.

New York City’s Economy Is Larger than Switzerland’s

It’s hard to talk about New York facts without mentioning its economic power. In 2009, the gross city product of New York City was $540 billion dollars, surpassing the national gross product of Switzerland. If the state of New York was a country, its economy would rank as the 15th largest in the world. Domestically, New York State alone produces more than 46 other states. The top five industries in New York are financial services, healthcare, professional and technical services, retail trade and food service, and manufacturing. The numbers prove that New York is still one of the biggest economic powerhouses of the United States.

New York Was the First to Establish a State Park

In 1885, New York became the first state to ever have a state park when the government purchased properties around Niagara Falls. This area was known as the Niagara Reservation at the time and became the first state park in the United States. Now we know it by a different name – Niagara Falls State Park. The oldest state park is still a very popular tourist attraction today, drawing millions of visitors each year. In 1963, the site was also named a US National Historic Landmark.

New York Is Considered the World Capital

The United Nations is the government entity of the world, and New York – where UN headquarters are located – can be considered the world’s capital. In 1946, New York was chosen to host the headquarters of the United Nations. At this time, New York was the biggest city in the world, with a population of 12 million people. It was also the most powerful in terms of its economy and cultural influence.

Since then, many things have changed. For example, Tokyo has grown bigger than New York, with a total population of 30 million people. There have been proposals from different countries over the years to move the UN headquarters. To date, however, none of the proposals has succeeded and New York remains the official capital of the world.

New York State Has the Longest Toll Road in the US

One of the lesser-known New York facts is that it is home to the longest toll road in the United States. The Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway, also known as the New York State Thruway, holds the record at 569.83 miles in length. It is also the fifth busiest toll road in the country. The thruway system connects major cities in New York. Its first section opened on June 24, 1954, connecting Utica and Rochester. The thruway system is named after a former New York governor, Thomas E. Dewey.

The Women’s Rights Movement Was Born in New York State

Although women were granted voting rights in 1920, the Women’s Rights Movements started 72 years earlier. The Women’s Rights Movement was officially started in Seneca Falls, New York. On July 19, 1848, the first women’s rights convention was held, with 300 attendees. This was a historic event that set the Women’s Rights Movement in motion and called for changes across the nation. Although the convention invited women only, men were not turned away, and 42 men took part in the event. Of these men, 32 signed the Declaration of Sentiments, along with 68 women.

Martin Van Buren was the Only US President for Whom English Was a Second Language

To date, there have been four US presidents that were born and raised in the state of New York, but one of them had a very interesting background. Martin Van Buren, the 8th president of the United States, was the first president to be born in the country. He is also the only president for whom English was a second language. Born in Kinderhook, New York, President Van Buren descended from a Dutch family and only spoke Dutch at home. This is one of the New York facts that show how diversity has a long history in the Empire state.

New York State Used to Be “New Netherland”

New York was initially a Dutch Colony. Explorers from the Netherlands first settled in the area in the 17th century. Back then, the state was called the New Netherland by the original settlers. In 1664, King Charles II of England took over the colony. He gave the region to his brother, the Duke of York and Albany. New York was therefore renamed in honor of its new Duke. Albany, the current capital of New York State, also gained its name from this event.

The Original Uncle Sam Was from Troy, New York

Uncle Sam has become a personification of the United States, but you may not know that the actual Uncle Sam came from Troy, New York. His origin is not well-documented, but what we do know is that his name was Samuel Wilson. Sam was a meatpacker who stamped the barrels with U.S, short for the United States. The soldiers, however, started to refer to the meat as “Uncle Sam’s”. The name was picked up by a local newspaper and later became a well-known nickname for the US government. The origin of Uncle Sam is one of the most interesting New York facts that not many people know about.

New York State has Produced the Most State Governors

New York facts show that people from this state have a better chance of becoming a state governor. The state holds the record for the highest number of state-born people who have become governors of other states. In total, 116 New York-born Americans have achieved this title. That is one governor for almost every two years since the birth of the state. Virginia holds second place, with 78 natives who become governors of other states.

Not only known for ‘exporting’ the highest number of governors, New York also has a high percentage of home-grown governors. According to a report in 2010, 74.5 percent of New York governors were born in the state.

The State Tax Law Used to Discriminate Marshmallows

New York is one of the states that do not collect tax on non-prepared foods, but candy is one of the exceptions and is taxable. These two New York facts made marshmallows a peculiar case. The large marshmallows that are used to make s’mores were considered a type of candy. Hence, you had to pay taxes on these. Smaller marshmallows, that are often added to hot chocolate, on the other hand, were considered not taxable.

Fortunately, the tax department later decided that this marshmallow discrimination created unnecessary complications at the cash register. Hence, the law was changed to state that all marshmallows, large and small, should be tax-exempt.

The First Black Friday-Related Death Was in Valley Stream, NY

When talking about New York facts, it’s not surprising to hear that the state holds some of the largest Black Friday sales. Unfortunately, sometimes too much of a good thing is just not good. In 2008, 2,000 shoppers waited outside a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, NY, for the Black Friday opening. When the door opened, the crowd pushed forward and trampled an employee to death. This is a sad event that marked the first death that was directly related to Black Friday shopping.

The First Public Brewery in America Was Born in Lower Manhattan

New York has one of the biggest, wildest nightlife scenes in the world. Unsurprisingly, the tradition goes way back. New York facts point out that the state was home to the first ever public brewery in the US. In 1633, Peter Minuit, a Dutch colonist, converted a log cabin in lower Manhattan into a popular hangout spot. His brown ale became a popular choice and was often drunk as a breakfast beverage. Other contributions of New York to the world’s drinking history include the creation of the Manhattan cocktail and the Bloody Mary.

A Young Person Can Be Trialed and Charged as an Adult before Voting Age

No list of New York facts can be completed without mention of its complicated legal system. One of the most controversial issues involves how the criminal justice system views 16 and 17-year-olds. The state of New York is one of the only two places in the United States to automatically charge 16-year-olds as adults. So, while 16-year-olds are still not able to vote or drink, they are already seen as adults and held fully responsible for their actions by the New York legal system.

Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a bill to end this policy. The proposal asks to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18 years old. At the moment, whether the bill will take effect remains debatable.

Santa Claus Was First ‘Imported’ to New York

There are many New York facts that are related to the immigration of culture since colonial times. The idea of Santa Claus is an example, and originated from the Dutch tradition of celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas. In the United States, the tradition is said to stem from the first Dutch community in Albany. The name Santa Claus is an Americanized version of Sinterklass, the Dutch name for St. Nicholas.

The first mention of Santa Claus in the country was found in the Van Rensselaer papers. A poem called “Account of a Visit from St. Nicolas” was also published in the Troy Sentinel in 1823. Now it is known under the name “The Night Before Christmas”.

New York Was the First State to Require License Plates on Automobiles

License plates are required now in every state, but did you know that the first plates were used in 1901? New York was the first state to require all automobiles to have license plates.

Interestingly, the first license plates in the United States were not issued by the state. Although New York started to require license plates, these plates were made by the vehicle owners themselves. The owners put their initials on the plates and only had to pay $1 to register them.

The first registered license plate with the number “1” featured on it belonged to a man named Frederick Tudor. The active registration on the plate is still with one of his relatives.

It Is Forbidden by Law to Talk to Anyone in an Elevator

Many strange New York facts come from the state’s old laws that are no longer enforced. One such law stated that:

When one is in an elevator, one is not permitted to talk to anyone and must look straight ahead at the door with one’s arms crossed.

This may seem strange nowadays, but the law was initially set for practical reasons. When the first elevators were introduced to New York buildings, there were reports of several accidents due to cables jamming and breaking. Many people became scared and kept their posture as described above. The law came into existence because it was believed that New Yorkers tended to move their arms when they talked and may have accidentally slapped or slugged other people in the elevator. The law, of course, is no longer enforced, but it was never removed either.

New York Is the Birthplace of Air Conditioning, Toilet Paper, and Potato Chips

It is one of the most well-known New York facts that New Yorkers are among the most innovative. One of the creative people from the state was Willis Haviland Carrier, who built an air treatment device to reduce humidity for a printing plant. This later on was developed into the first air conditioner unit.

Toilet paper was also invented in New York, by Joseph C. Gayetty. However, the idea didn’t catch on until Seth Wheeler of Albany started to make and sell toilet paper in rolls instead of flat sheets.

Potato chips are another New York invention, created by a chef named George Crum. A customer complained that Crum’s French fries were too thick, which irritated him so much that he decided to make a culinary mockery. He over-fried thinly sliced potatoes and seasoned them heavily with salt. The mockery turned out to be a sensation among his customers, and potato chips remain a worldwide favorite today.

New York Facts – Facts about New York State Summary

There are many fun New York facts that not many people know about. New York is an economic powerhouse with the total gross state product ranked as the 15th largest in the world. It produces the most governors and was the birthplace of the women’s rights movement. It is known for many “firsts”, such as being the first state to require car license plates, being the location in which the first air conditioner was invented, and for introducing the first celebration of Santa Claus. New York is also known for strange laws, such as the one that prohibits talking in elevators, or the one that discriminates different types of marshmallows for tax purposes.

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