New York City Facts

Each Friday a new fact about a region of New York State is posted to the Exploring Upstate Facebook Page. In case you haven’t been following along there, here’s what you missed!

– The ‘Eggnog Riots’ took place on December 24 and 25, 1828 at West Point Academy forcing NYC Council to implement police force to get it under control. The two-day drunken brawl became such a debacle that almost 90 students and 1 enlisted officer were implicated or court-martialed–including Jefferson Davis. It was later discovered that the drunken ruckus was the result of eggnog spiked with whiskey that had been smuggled on campus. [source]

– For the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square, there are no public bathrooms or port-o-potties made available and attendees are typically not allowed to leave their positions once barricades are up. [source]

– The African Free School was first founded in NYC on November 2, 1787 and provided children of slaves and free people of color an education. The school was created and funded by mostly wealthy, white men who made up the New York Manumission Society that fought strongly for the abolition of slavery even in the earliest days of our country’s existence. [source]

– Born in Brooklyn in 1924, Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress. She also became the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States and she was the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination. [source]

– New York City born William Phelps Eno is known as the ‘Father of Traffic Safety’ and is responsible for inventing the stop sign, traffic circle, one-way street and pedestrian safety circles. He never learned to drive a car. [source]

– Lawmakers in New York City used a minor outbreak of Hepatitis B to scapegoat tattooing in an attempt to keep down an artform they considered radical and taboo. Their efforts ensured that tattooing in New York City was illegal from 1961 until 1997. [source]

– Frank Hayes holds the esteemed record of being the only jockey to win a horse race after dying. In February 1923 at Belmont Park, he suffered a heart attack sometime during the race. His horse, later named “Kiss of Death”, went on to win the race with a deceased Hayes still on its back. [source]

The “World’s Largest Menorah” is located in Brooklyn, but it’s actually the World’s SECOND Largest Menorah. Because it was the first to use “Largest Menorah” in its title, it was allowed to keep the distinction, despite it being shorter than a newer menorah (also, in Brooklyn) that was built attempting to claim the title. [source]

– The term ‘con man’ is short for “confidence man” and was inspired by the trial of William Thompson. In the 1840’s in New York City, Thompson would confidently ask strangers on the street to borrow their watch, and then never return it. He was later caught and tried for his rues, finding that his confidence was how others entrusted him with their watches. [source]