10 Absolutely Amazing Facts About New York’s Past

What’s Your New York IQ? Ice-cream cones and murder trials? New York has many more secrets than we thought, and Helvetiq NYC-IQ is here to teach us…


1. A townhouse at 751/2 Bedford Street in the West Village is the narrowest house in New York City.

With a mere 990 square feet, this humble abode has gained a lot of celebrity attention. With tenants including Cary Grant, John Barrymore, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Margaret Mead, star attention brings sky high asking prices. In 2010, the home sold for $2.175 million and after renovations the home returned to the market with an asking price of 3.495 million in mid-2012.

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2. People actually race to the top of the Empire State Building

The fastest time recorded in the annual Empire State Building Run-Up was 9 minutes and 33 seconds. The “Run-Up” is from the lobby to the 86th-floor observation deck. In order to get to the deck, there are two elevator rides, the first of which (to the 80th) takes under a minute.

Ps- Because it’s so big, the Empire State Building has it’s own zipcode: 10118 to accommodate its 1,000 businesses and 21,000 employees.


3. Wheaties really is the “Breakfast of Champions”

In 1934, Yankee’s star Lou Gehrig was the first athlete to appear on a Wheaties box. What better way to promote the slogan, “Wheaties – The Breakfast of Champions.”?



4. The 24th floor of the Empire State Building used to offer a quick place to nap.

The business, MetroNaps, lasted five years, from 2003 until 2008 and used to offer napping pods to New Yorkers so they could take naps in 20 minute intervals. However, after a change in the visitor policy at the Empire State Building, the operation had to shut down before expanding. Don’t worry though, MetroNaps still rents out their “Energy Pods” to businesses like Google.



5. The “ice-cream cone” began as a cup.

In 1904 New Yorker Italo Marchiony received a patent for his mold for making the “ice-cream cup”. The waffle ice-cream cone that we know today was originally designed to be an edible cup. Italo began by serving small liquor glasses of ice-cream to stockbrokers on Wall Street, but the glasses caused many problems. Many glasses broke, or were taken, and washing them was a chore, so he began to bake waffles and mold them into the shape of a cup while they were still warm. Voila! Once the customers had a convenient, sanitary, and tasty cup, the business took off!

6. Central Park is larger than Monaco.

Central Park is 1.317 sq. miles (843 acres), and Monaco is 0.76 sq. miles (486 acres), making Central Park just about twice as big as the country. For reference, the world’s smallest state, Vatican City. is 0.2 square miles (128 acres).



7. A 1920s fashion faux pas triggered the Straw Hat Riot.

Apparently, it used to be a less than accepted to wear straw has after September 15 in New York City. Since someone decided to make it an unofficial rule, violators had their hats stolen and stomped on by street kids, and subjected themselves to serious ridicule if the offenders didn’t switch to felt hats. In 1922 the riot lasted for about 8 days and ended in many arrests and minor injuries.

8. A New York woman was tried for killing her mother with clam chowder.

In 1896, Harlem resident Mary Alice Almont Livingston (Mrs. Fleming) was tried for murdering her mother by poisoning her with a mix of clam chowder and arsenic. Scary enough, Livingston faced the possibility of becoming the first woman to be executed in New York’s new-fangled electric chair. In 1895, her father, the county judge in Almont died, and left his widow some $85,000. Suspiciously, in August 1895, Mrs. Fleming sent her mother some clam chowder and pie, only to find her dead later that night, poisoned by arsenic. Despite coming from a rich family, Mrs. Fleming was living in poverty, and the lawyers assumed she was in it for the money. However, in a twisted turn of events, they found that the soup was delivered by her ten-year-old daughter, allowing Mrs. Fleming to run free, and inherit the rest of the money.

9. Oscar the Grouch is real?

Oscar the Grouch actually comes from a grumpy waiter at the now shuttered Oscar’s Tavern in Midtown Manhattan. Jim Henson and Jon Stone, the creators of the muppets, became so amused by this waiter, going to see him became a lunchtime tradition.



10. Truman Capote described New York by saying, “I have fallen in love with many cities, but only an orgasm lasting an hour could surpass the bliss of my first year in New York”

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