Some wacky urban legends about New York City

In looking around for information on the blackout yesterday, I stumbled into one of my favorite sites Snopes, the debunking place for urban legend and Internet rumors. They have quite a selection of articles relating to New York City history, dispelling local myths and pointing out some of the city’s crazier moments.

I put some of my favorites below, with the answer ‘true/false’ in white type which you can highlight. Can you tell the truth from the lies? And of course, the link directly to the article it to the side:

1. Nine months after the Blackout of 1965, the birth rate in New York rose suddenly and drastically (apparently thanks to all those dark bedrooms) with hospitals filled with expectant mothers. FALSE [article]

2. In 1823, did “a pair of hoaxsters once lead hundreds of gullible New Yorkers into participating in a scheme to saw Manhattan in half” (as vividly described in Joel Rose’s book ‘New York Sawed In Half’)? FALSE [article]

3. The New York Yankees began wearing their now-signature pinstripe outfits because of the great Babe Ruth. Being a heavy man, the stripes were used to make Mr. Ruth appear thinner. FALSE [article]

4. Alligators once thrived in the New York City sewer system. MOSTLY FALSE [article]

5. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, upon hearing that an old woman was charged with shoplifting a loaf of bread, demanded everybody in the room pay 50 cents to pay her fine. MAYBE! [article]

6. Did Harlem resident Colin Powell learn to speak Yiddish from working at a South Bronx baby supply shop? TRUE [article]

7. Was early sponsorship of Major League baseball’s annual finale by Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World newspaper the reason the yearly event is now called the World Series? OF COURSE NOT. [article]

8. Was that marvelous synthetic fabric — nylon — named after the two cities in which it was jointly created, New York (ny) and London (lon)? NOT TRUE [article]

9. Those crazy Astors! Did William Waldorf Astor once promote a lowly hotel clerk to head manager of Waldorf=Astoria on the strength of a single kind deed? SORTA [article]
10. Was a 1960s WNBC radio reporter in the middle of broadcasting a live traffic report when her helicopter crashed into the Hudson River, killing her? TRUE, JANE DORNACKER [article]

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