Interesting Facts About Manhattan Island


Manhattan Island, or simply Manhattan, is an island and also one of the five boroughs in New York City, in the state of New York, United States. Manhattan is one of the bustling districts in the city where business, arts, culture and entertainment converge, and it has one of the most racially diverse areas in the country. Of course, it’s famous for Wall Street, Central Park, and the dazzling skyscrapers including the famous Empire State Building.

But there are other interesting and curious facts about Manhattan that you probably did not know. Click through this gallery and discover more cool facts about Manhattan Island.

The first fire hydrant in New York City was installed in 1808 at the corner of William and Liberty Streets. This hydrant, according to most sources, was most likely a wood case hydrant. By 1817, iron-made hydrants were installed throughout the city.

Ettore “Hector” Boiardi (1897-1985) was an Italian immigrant to the United States and a famous chef who is known for his line of Chef Boyardee canned and ready-made Italian food products. He honed his cooking skills inside the kitchens of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, working his way up to become a head chef, and eventually, a famous figure.

jim henson

Many debate the origins of Oscar the Grouch, one of the Muppet characters on the popular children’s show Sesame Street. One of the sources cites that the inspiration behind Oscar the Grouch happened in Manhattan. The story is told about a day when creator Jim Henson and the show’s director Jon Stone were at at the now-defunct restaurant, named Oscar’s Tavern in Manhattan. On one of their dinners together, they encountered an unusually rude and grouchy waiter. Henson and Stone were amused by the experience so they decided to create a Muppet character based on the waiter and his grouchy attitude, as well as the name of the restaurant, and christened him “Oscar the Grouch.”

One of the all-time baseball greats, New York Yankees’ Henry Louis “Lou” Gehrig was born in Manhattan, in the borough’s neighborhood of Yorkville, on June 19, 1903. He also attended elementary and high school Manhattan. The street where he was born, at 1994 Second Avenue (near E. 103rd Street) is now marked as a historic site.

Randall's Island

Randall’s Island and Ward’s Island are two parts of an island in Manhattan, separated from the borough by East River, from another borough The Bronx by Bronx Kill, and from another borough Queens by the East River and Hell Gate.

Randall’s Island and Ward’s Island used to be two separate islands, but now they are joined by a landfill. Virtually a “park island,” Randall’s Island and Ward’s Island, together, spans a total of 432.69 acres (or 175 hectares). One of New York City’s oases from the urban hubbub, the conjoined island-park has gone under a remarkable transformation through former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to preserve the city’s open spaces as well as to maintain and develop its waterfronts.

Randall’s Island and Ward’s Island has parks that offer amenities such as athletic fields, a driving range, green ways, picnic areas, and playgrounds. However, it also has two psychiatric hospitals, a police station, a fire department, a sewage plant, and several homeless shelters.

The word “Manhattan” has been translated as “island of many hills” in Algonquian language, the language spoken by Lenape Native Americans (Indians) who used to be the inhabitants of the area.

Manhattan remains one of the most densely populated areas in the world. As of 2014 census, the number of the Manhattanites stands at 1,636,268 living in an area of 22.83 square miles (or 59.1 kilometers) — this means 71,672 residents per square mile (27,673 per square kilometers).

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a huge Christmas tree erected yearly in Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center. The tree is put up in early to mid November and lit in late November or early December. The type of tree used for this is the Norway spruce, and heights of the Christmas Tree can vary from 69 to 100 feet. The Rockefeller Center has been following this holiday tradition since 1933.

U Thant Island is the unofficial name of a tiny man-made island located in Manhattan, on the East River. Although its legal name is Belmont Island, the name U Thant Island has become a more popular and common name. The islet measures 100 by 200 feet, and lies between the UN headquarters and the Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City.

In 1977, a council of the of UN employees named the Peace Meditation leased the small island from the State of New York. The council gave the islet the unofficial name U Thant Island, in honor of the UN Secretary General U Thant.

The new 7 World Trade Center is a 52-story commercial building in Lower Manhattan, New York City, New York. The original structure, 47-story 7 World Trade Center, was completed in 1987 but was also destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The extensive damage was due to the fiery debris from the collapsed North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Construction for the second incarnation of the 7 World Trade Center began in May 2002 and was completed and opened for operation in 2006.

Some buildings in the US are so big and massive that they are given their own zip code. One of the few buildings to have such privilege is the Empire State Building in Manhattan, New York City, New York. The 102-storey Art Deco skyscraper has a zip code which is 10118.

Manhattan’s East River is not really a river despite the name, but a tidal strait or a waterway. It measures 16 miles and links the Upper New York Bay on the south and the Long Island Sound on the north.

The New York Times is one of the oldest newspapers in the country that is still in circulation, having been founded in 1851. The real newspaper has the largest circulation of any metropolitan newspaper in the US with over 1,379,806 (weekdays and Saturdays) and 1,321,207 (Sundays).

The New York Times is presently the chief tenant of its eponymous building, The New York Times Building. The 52-story skyscraper’s construction was completed in 2007, and is now located at 620 Eighth Avenue on the west side of midtown Manhattan. The New York Times had moved its headquarters a few times before, it used to be located at the Times Tower on Broadway street.

One of the most famous American landmarks, the Statue of Liberty, is huge sculpture and monument located on Liberty Island, Manhattan, New York City in New York. The height of the statue, from the base of the sculpture to the torch, measures 151 feet and 1 inch (46 meters) high.

The statue consists of a robed female who represents the Roman goddess Libertas. She bears a torch and a tablet where the date of the American Declaration of Independence was inscribed. It was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi; the face of the Statue of Liberty was modeled after Bartholdi’s mother, Charlotte. The statue was France’s gift to the United States, dedicated on October 28, 1886.

The Statue of Liberty was, and still is, an enduring icon of freedom and of the United States. To many immigrants arriving from abroad, they see the statue as a symbol of hope and promise.

Also referred to as “Manhattanhenge,” or “Manhattan Solstice,” this event refers to the setting sun that aligns with the east and west streets of Main Street in Manhattan. Occurring twice a year, this amazing occurrence falls on dates spaced around the summer solstice. The first occurrence of the Manhattanhenge takes place on May 28, and the second one falls on July 12. Many New Yorkers feel they cannot afford to miss the “Manhattanhenge” event so they can take their own pictures of this awesome phenomenon.

Fun Things to Do When in Manhattan

Catch a Run of Green Lights      

If you ever plan to pass by First Avenue, catch the most satisfying streak of green light with the right speed. The traffic light system program synced the traffic lights to match the drivers’ speed, around 28 miles per hour.

Visit Grand Central Terminal’s Whispering Gallery

 Visit Grand Central Terminal's Whispering Gallery

The famous Grand Central Terminal has an architectural structure where if one person stands in one corner of the tiled wall, with the other standing on the opposite side, they can whisper to each other, and it is still audible!

Witness the Lightning in Empire State Building

Empire State Building in a cloudy day

It is notably recorded that lightning striking the Empire State Building became a common occurrence in Manhattan. In fact, lightning hits around 25 times a year. No need to worry as engineers created a depleted method to absorb massive energy. Now, that is a great site to see. 

Climb the Top of the Rock

If you are looking for an excellent view overlooking the city, perched on top of the Rockefeller Center, you can visit the Top of the Rock. Tickets are filled faster during sunset,     so it’s better to arrive earlier to witness firsthand how sun-kissed rays touch the busy county.

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