14 Fun Facts About New York City

My wife and I are planning a trip to New York City and, as has become customary before every vacation we book, I thought it a good opportunity to dig up some fun facts about the Big Apple.

1. New York is a city of over eight million people, covering 301 square miles.

2. The area was first sighted almost 500 years ago by Giovanni da Verrazano. The Dutch first sent fur traders in 1621, but they lost the colony they dubbed New Amsterdam to the English in 1664. The settlement was re-christened New York, and the name stuck despite the English losing the colony in 1783 at the end of the Revolutionary War.

3. Manhattan was a forested land populated by Alngonquian-speaking Natives when the Dutch West India Company established a fur-trading post called New Amsterdam in 1625. In 1898, Manhattan was joined with the four outer boroughs to form the world's second-largest city.

4. From 1800 to 1900, the population in New York City swelled from almost 80,000 to 3 million people. New York City became the country's cultural and entertainment hub as well as its business center.

5. As the city prospered during the colonial era, an elite emerged that could afford a more refined way of life, and fine furniture and household silver were made for use in their homes.

6. The British took the city during the American Revolution in 1776, essentially making it their headquarters. The Continental army would not return to Manhattan until 1783, two years after the fighting ended.

7. In 1900, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union was founded to fight for the rights of women and children, working at low wages in under hazardous conditions in factories.

8. The city became the headquarters of the United Nations (UN) in the 1940s.

9. Since the 1990s, New York has seen a dramatic drop in the crime rate and an increase in gentrification, with areas such as Brooklyn, Harlem, and Lower Manhattan undergoing redevelopment.

10. You could devote months to New York's museums and still not do them justice. There are over 60 museums in Manhattan alone, and half as many in the other boroughs.

11. During its first 200 years, New York, like all of America, look to Europe for architectural inspiration. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the city's major architectural trends followed those of Europe.

12. An astounding 17 million immigrants arrived in New York City between 1880 and 1910. Around half of America's population can trace its roots to Ellis Island, which served as the country's immigration depot from 1892 until 1954. Nearly 12 million people passed through its gates and dispersed across the country in the greatest wave of immigration the world has ever known.

13. From actress Mae West to steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, New York has nourished some of the best creative talents since the beginning of the 20th century.

14. Federal Hall National Monument marks the place where George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the U.S. in 1789.

Have you ever been to New York City? Any fun facts you can add to the list?

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