10 Surprising historical facts about New York City, The City That Never Sleeps

Fun City, Gotham, The Big Apple - whatever you want to call New York City, it's undoubtedly The City That Never Sleeps. Millions are familiar with Broadway, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and Times Square. Yet, there's more to NYC than meets the eye. Read on to learn more about the city that many consider to be the Centre of the Universe.

10. It used to be called New Amsterdam

The Dutch came to Manhattan first and established a colony, New Amsterdam, in the 1620s. Due to the unpopularity of Governor Peter Stuyvesant, however, its inhabitants refused to fight off the English in 1664. Since the Duke of York was leading the mission to capture the island, the colony was renamed in his honour!

9. It's been a melting pot of cultures for nearly 200 years

In the 1880s, so many immigrants began rushing into the city that an estimated 40% of the current American population had at least one ancestor pass through the immigration station on Ellis Island. Today, NYC is home to over 3 million immigrants speaking 800 languages!

8. Its stock exchange was founded under a tree

The world's largest stock exchange began with just 24 dealers, 3 state bonds, the stocks of 2 banks, and 1 tree. And so, under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street, the aptly-named Buttonwood Agreement defined the parameters of trading and officially established the New York Stock Exchange.

7. It popularised bingo in America

The people of New York have always been trendsetters, and travelling salesman Edwin Lowe was no exception. In 1929, Lowe came upon a European game called Beano, which involved beans, number combinations, and hand-stamped cards. Intrigued, he began making his own version to mass-produce. And according to a feature by Foxy Bingo on the game's origins, it was in Lowe's hometown of New York, while he was testing this version with friends, that one of them accidentally cried out, "Bingo!" The rest, as they say, is history.

6. It has one of the world's largest libraries

Calling all bookworms: If you have a card to the New York Public Library, you'll have access to over 50 million books! This massive collection is contained in over 200 kilometres of shelving, within a building that took 12 years to build. The cornerstone alone weighs 7 tonnes!

5. It had to assemble the Statue of Liberty

Lady Liberty is so unbelievably large that the French sent the arm a decade ahead. The Americans put it on display in Philadelphia to raise funding so that the rest of the statue could be shipped across the Atlantic. The other 350 pieces finally arrived in 1885!

4. It has one of the world's oldest and longest subway systems

Since opening in 1904, New York City's metro has become one of the most extensive in the world. Its routes add up to a distance of nearly 1,400 kilometres. It would take over 24 hours to traverse it all!

3. It held a universal moving day until the 1920s

The concept might be quite baffling, but those who needed to move flats used to mark May 1st as Moving Day! The practice waned after the construction of boroughs outside Manhattan, making rent cheaper and lessening the need to move every year.

2. It named the Bronx after its first settler

This borough is named after the first person who ever settled there: the Swedish Jonas Bronck. His farmlands were called "Bronck's Land," and the river that ran through it was called "Bronck's River." People eventually started calling it the Bronx, for short.

1. It's called The Big Apple because of horse races

When horse racing became popular in NYC, prizes were called "big apples." The nickname soon caught on for the rest of the city thanks to a 1970s ad campaign meant to attract tourists!