For the Tourist: Obscure Facts About New York City that Will Blow Your Mind


Did you know that it’s a misdemeanor to pass gas in a New York City church? That’s right. There are many obscure facts about the Big Apple that most people are unaware of, especially tourists. 

As the most populated city in the United States, New York City is home to between 8 and 9 million residents. This is a staggering number, considering this is larger than the population of Wyoming, Montana, and Washington State combined.

With so many people walking around America’s largest city, tourists often find themselves lost among the crowd, and unaware of all the interesting facts about this electric metropolis. 

Whether you’re planning on walking the beat yourself or touring the town on a New York City bus rental, there’s entirely too much for one to take in on an average trip.

Here, we’ll highlight the many little-known and obscure facts about New York City that make it such a special place. 

City Insight 

Just taking a walk through Central Park or Madison Square Garden can be an exhilarating experience. You’ll see many characters, many faces, and many cultures just on a short walk to grab a famous New York-style reuben. 

You might even see New York City’s resident “gold digger,” a man who literally mines the cracks of city streets for gold and jewelry; a man who reportedly makes over 600 dollars a day doing this job alone.

Aside from that, here’s a shortlist of interesting insights about New York City:

  • 1 in 38 U.S. residents lives in New York City.
  • Outside of Israel, the Jewish population of NYC is the largest in the world. 
  • Outside of Asia, the Chinese population of NYC is the largest in the world.
  • 60 percent of cigarettes sold in NYC are smuggled in from other states. 
  • The Empire State Building has its very own zip code.
  • A New York bagel is the equivalent of one-half of a loaf of bread.
  • Only one homicide occurred in NYC on 9/11, and it still remains unsolved.

While the above list is enough to get you started, consider this fun fact: The New York City doctor who performed Albert Einstein’s autopsy not only stole his brain to study, he also stole his eyes which he then gave to Einstein’s eye doctor. 

Today, the eyes are still kept in a safety deposit box in New York City. 

Mind-Blowing Facts

Many tourists, and even native New Yorkers, are unaware of the lengthy history of this gateway to the promised land. Years ago, while millions of immigrants made their way across the Atlantic and passed through Ellis Island, the city was a much different place.

  1. Until 1957, NYC mail was delivered via pneumatic tubes that crisscrossed the city. This system of tubing connected 23 post offices across 27 miles within New York City, reportedly delivering over 97,000 pieces of mail daily.
  2. While New York City is known for its beautiful parks and post-glacial landscape, many of these parks such as Madison Square Park, Bryant, Union, and Washington Square Parks all used to be NYC cemeteries.
  3. During the winter of 1780, the New York harbor froze completely, allowing city residents the ability to walk over the ice from Manhattan to Staten Island.
  4. If the population of the entire United States was as dense as in New York City, every American man, woman, and child could reside in the state of Texas alone.

Though New York City has fantastic food, shopping, cultural sights, and apartments that sell for more than a dozen single-family homes combined, the hidden wonders of this city live in its rich history.

Whether riding the subway or commuting in a city cab, while you’re out and about, don’t be afraid to ask your tour guide questions and inquire about the little obscurities that make New York City such a magnetic place that attracts people from all over the country and all over the world. 

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