Some Quirky Facts About New York City

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On the Loose in New York City
            Central Park illustration from On the Loose in New York City by Sage Stossel

Our Nation's Capital
New York City was the nation's first capital (from April 1789 to July 1790) under the newly created Constitution, and is where George Washington was inaugurated (at Federal Hall on Wall Street). At the time, the city was less populous than Philadelphia, and its streets, according to the New York Times, were "unpaved, narrow and crooked, often unlighted at night and frequently impassable because of wandering pigs."

A Crime to Honk
It's illegal to honk your car horn in New York city, except in an emergency. The fine for unnecessary honking is $350

A Windowless Skyscraper
At 33 Thomas Street, in the Tribeca neighborhood, is a skyscraper with no windows. Originally built in 1974 to withstand a nuclear attack, more recently it's said to have served as an outpost for spying by the National Security Agency.

The Longest Slide
The city's longest slide (57-feet long) is located on Governor's Island's Slide Hill.

The Skinniest House
The city's narrowest house (a little over 9 feet wide) is located at 75 1/2 Bedford Street in the West Village. People who once lived there include poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and cartoonist William Steig.

An Afterlife for Subway Cars
Decommissioned New York subway cars get dumped into the ocean to become artificial coral reefs.

Elephants on Brooklyn Bridge
Shortly after the Brooklyn Bridge first opened, P.T. Barnum led a parade of 21 elephants across to prove its sturdiness. (The story is recounted for young readers in the children's picture book Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing.)

Pricey Street Food
The cost to operate a food cart in Central Park is more than $100,000 per year—and sometimes much more.

An Electrified Skyscraper
The Empire State building gets struck by lightning an average of 23 times a year.

The Phantom Lives On
The longest running show in Broadway history is Phantom of the Opera.

East River Freeze
In years past, the winters got so cold that New Yorkers could sometimes go skating on the East River, or walk between Manhattan and Staten Island over the ice.

Hidden Subway Stations
Several abandoned subway stations still exist below the city. The most famous is the City Hall station, the city's first, which operated from 1904 to 1945, and can be toured.

An Underground Park
On the Lower East Side, plans are afoot to create the world's first underground park, a project called The Lowline.