New York is one of the most interesting states in the nation. Throughout history, so much has happened here. As a result, there are a whole bunch of intriguing and surprising facts about people, places, things, and events in the Empire State. Some of them sound too weird to even be true, but they are! Read on to learn some quirky facts about New York that you can use to impress your friends.
1. There really is an actual Yellow Brick Road and you can follow it, if you'd like.
L. Frank Baum, author of
The Wizard of Oz was born and raised in Chittenago and he is still very celebrated there. In this town, you can walk on sidewalks made of yellow brick and you can visit numerous Oz-themed businesses along the way.
2. There are more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams in New York.
Although New York's two main rivers - the Hudson and the Mohawk - are quite famous, few fully grasp the fact that this entire state is one big watershed area. There are countless rivers and streams throughout the state, and if you laid them end to end, they would reach around the Equator 2.8 times!
3. One of the world's biggest pet cemeteries is in New York.
There's a giant pet cemetery in Hartsdale that dates all the way back to 1896. More than 12,000 beloved pets are buried there.
4. Uncle Sam was a real person who lived and died in Troy.
Sam Wilson was a meatpacker from Troy. During the War of 1812, he stamped "U.S. Beef" on his products; soldiers joked that the U.S. stood for Uncle Sam and soon this mythical character based on a real person was an icon. Sam Wilson is buried in Troy's famous Oakwood Cemetery and is still a local celebrity more than 200 years later.
5. Adirondack Park is bigger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Olympic National Parks combined.
This park is huge! Adirondack Park is not a national park; there are many homes and independent businesses inside it, and that's not the case for most U.S. National Parks. However, it is like a national park in that it offers amazing recreational activities and immense beauty to visitors, and it is home to abundant wildlife. It covers 9,375 square miles in upstate New York.
6. New York has had four constitutions.
The first New York state constitution was adopted in 1777. New versions were drafted and accepted in 1821, 1846, and 1894. The 1894 version is the state constitution that is in place today, but it was revised in 1938 and it has been amended more than 200 times, too.
7. There's a secret subway station under the Waldorf Astoria.
In the 1930s, the New York City Subway added this secret station so President Franklin Delano Roosevelt could enter the hotel secretly from below after arriving to the city via Grand Central or Penn Stations.
8. Grand Central Station is the biggest train station in the world.
Speaking of train stations, Grand Central Station is the world's largest. It may not look that big from the outside, or even from the inside, but when you consider that it has 44 platforms on two underground levels, and that it covers 48 acres of land (you just can't see it all!) - this fact makes a lot more sense.
9. The Hudson River flows in both directions.
Most rivers flow toward he ocean or toward some other large body of water. The Hudson River does this also, but it goes the other way, too. Because the elevation of the river does not increase much between New York City and Albany, this river is affected by the tide for almost half of its 315-mile length. You can see the river rise and fall with the tides all the way to the Capital Region. The tide changes every six hours, so the river flows north for six hours, then south for six hours, on and on forever. It's a very uncommon phenomenon!
10. New York is the nation's second-largest producer of apples.
I don't know about you, but when I think of apple orchards, I don't always think of New York right away. However, when I give it more thought, I realize there are a whole bunch in the Empire State. There are enough, in fact, to put New York in second place for apple production nationwide. The only state that grows more apples is Washington. Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, and Idaho follow - in that order.
11. The longest tunnel in the world is in New York.
You'd never guess that the longest tunnel in the world is in New York, but it's true! However, cars nor people can pass through this one - it's for water only. This tunnel - known as the Delaware Aqueduct - was completed in 1945 and extends 85.1 miles from Rondout Reservoir near Kingston to the Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers.
12. The New York City Subway has the most stations of any transit system worldwide.
Although Beijing has a bigger ridership and a longer route length than New York City, New York's Subway system has more stations than any other metropolitan train system.
13. People have been living in New York for 12,000 years.
Historians and anthropologists believe that the first humans traveled to the North American continent via land bridge around 13,000 years ago. By 1,000 years later, some of those people were living in New York. There is evidence of semi-nomadic indigenous people's presence in New York around that time, and humans have loved New York ever since.
14. New York is the second-largest producer of maple syrup in the nation.
Besides making lots and lots of apples, New York also produces a lot of maple syrup. We're not even close to catching up with Vermont, though. In 2022, Vermont produced 2.5 million gallons of the stuff, and New York only made 845,000 gallons!
We hope you enjoyed these quirky facts about New York! Surprise your friends with them at parties or casually drop them into conversation whenever you get a chance. It’s always interesting to learn new things about the place you live and love.
Would you like to learn some more things that will make you proud to be a New Yorker? Check out our
State Pride New York page!
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