History of New York City: Forgotten Facts of the Big Apple

Wed, Aug 12, 2015

The History of New York City

It’s no secret that New York City is a unique amalgamation of cultures, businesses, art, languages, landscapes and more. Most of us are aware of the cultural, economic, social and political impact that NYC makes on today’s society and world, but what gets lost for many is the city's rich history. So many of New York’s museums and monuments are active, living strongholds, and we tend to forget their roots. So in an effort to show our great city's past some love, here are some oft-forgotten facts about New York; maybe even some you forgot you knew.


New York City Was the Capital of the United States

While Washington, D.C. now serves as the capital of the United States, it’s easy to forget that New York actually has bragging rights as the first city to receive this honor. In 1789, it was declared the capital when George Washington’s inauguration was held in New York. The city would remain the center of our new nation for five years. Though it was a short-lived reign of glory, being the first capital city of the United States isn't too shabby of a claim. 


NYC was a Forerunner in Abolishing Slavery

In 1827, New York City outlawed slavery. Don't think that's a big deal? What if we told you that was nearly 40 years before the end of the Civil War... progressive town, right? The city was home to many of the voices that lead the abolitionist movement, including Harriet Tubman, John Brown, and Frederick Douglass. Its geographic location also played a key role in ending slavery as New York played a large part in the Underground Railroad. Thousands of former slaves escaped to Canada by coming through New York City.


Architectural Innovations Built Landmarks in New York 

The Brooklyn Bridge is often considered a marvel when it comes to architectural design and engineering. Its unique aesthetic and ingenuity are still a spectacle among all of the accomplishments in the field today. Need proof of its strength? P.T. Barnum, of the infamous Barnum and Bailey circus, paraded 21 elephants back and forth across the bridge in 1883 to demonstrate the incredible strength and sturdiness of this game-changing design. That sure quieted all the naysayers...

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Innovation in architecture continued in 1902 when New York City became home to the first ever skyscraper: the Flatiron Building. Sitting at 23rd Street and 5th Avenue, the Flatiron Building still stands today and is a favorite piece of architectural glory for locals and visitors alike. Not impressed by the Flatiron? Throughout the early 1900's, NYC continued to pave the way in architectural advances with the construction of buildings that still stand among the modern definition of a skyscraper, as well as more incredible bridges. The Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, and the George Washington Bridge were all completed by the year 1931, making NYC a true spot on the map for anyone wishing to be impressed by the marvels of mankind. If you're one of those folks, we encourage you to come aboard one of our tours, where you can see well over 100 of NYC's iconic sights.

NYC is Home to the United Nations

New York City played an important role in World War II, providing key naval resources to the war effort. Shortly after the fallout from this trying time, The United Nations formed in 1952, naming New York City the permanent headquarters. It's still located here today, and is just one of the many sights you can see on our tours!

A Baseball Landmark 

A favorite summer activity for tourists and New Yorkers alike is to catch a baseball game - it is America's Favorite Pastime, after all. What's so great about NYC in particular is that if you're a baseball fan, you have options! Take in a Yankees game up in the Bronx or a Mets game in Queens. And while these two teams are now NYC icons, they were not the first clubs to call our city home. The original New York team was actually the Brooklyn Dodgers, who played in New York long before they ended up in their current home of Los Angeles. In 1956, the New York Yankees faced the Brooklyn Dodgers for the first ever “Subway Series.” The tradition of the Subway Series continues still, but is now held between the Yankees and Mets.

I <3 NY

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Unless you've been living under a rock, there's no doubt you're familiar with the iconic "I Love (heart) New York" tote bags, t-shirts, and everything else that fill today’s gift shops and stores. Really, this motif has become a cultural staple that's impossible to ignore. But what many people don’t know is that the whole idea of “I Love New York” stems from a tourism campaign created back in 1977 as an effort to boost tourism during a high crime wave. The I Love New York movement created a recognizable logo, slogan, and even jingle, to promote the city. As you can tell, the idea stuck and the logo is still everywhere, and embraced affectionately by New Yorkers today.

The City is Home to Live Theater’s Longest Streak

New York is known for its Broadway shows, and rightfully so. Live theater has been a part of the city’s fabric for years. Legendary musicals, plays, and all sorts of performance acts come to Broadway (and Off-Broadway) to make it or break it in the business. No musical was more successful than Phantom of the Opera, which came to New York City in 1988 and enjoyed Broadway’s longest running streak for over 3 decades.

And, don't forget Circle Line Tours! We've been a part of NYC's history since 1945. So come aboard one of our sightseeing cruises and let's enjoy this beautiful city together!

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Tags: Things To Do In NYC, New York History