Photo by Michael Berman courtesy of Scott’s Pizza Tours
New York City hardly shies away from the spotlight. With a laundry list of superlatives already under its belt — including the most populous city in the United States and the world’s most linguistically diverse metropolis — New York is expectedly the place where major feats happen.
Just a month ago, we witnessed the world’s largest lox bagel being constructed right before our eyes (more on that later) — but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. In a city where 8.5 million people are bumping elbows, aspirations are running high, good-natured competition is always taking place, and world records are constantly being broken. Here, we take a look at 10 of the most impressive (and very New York) world records set in New York City.
1. Fastest Time to Visit All Subway Stations in New York City: 21:28:14
Back in 2012, we spoke to Adham Fisher and Andy James, both members of a unique community of subway-philes who attempt to break Guinness World Records in major cities across the United States. That year, they set out to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest time to travel to all of New York City’s subway stations, but fell short of the previous 22:52:36 record by approximately eighteen minutes.
The latest person to tackle and actually conquer New York City’s sprawling subway system is Matthew Ahn, a law student who is “obsessed with public transportation.” He has been eyeing the title since 2014, and attempted to break the record on three prior attempts. On January 2015, however, he accomplished his goal, successfully visiting all 469 subway stations in 21 hours, 49 minutes and 35 seconds, and then again in 2016, with a time of 21 hours, 28 minutes and 14 seconds. As of 2017, there were no record holders for the 472-station challenge, which includes the newly opened Second Avenue Subway stops. The feat reminds us of another transit challenge to find the longest subway ride in New York City with one swipe.
2. Most Cocktails Made in an Hour: 1,905
In 2011, Sheldon Wiley, the self-proclaimed “world’s fastest bartender,” mixed 1,003 drinks to break the Guinness World Record for “most cocktails made in one hour.” Though Las Vega mixologist, Erik Mora, did later go on to beat Wiley with 1,559 drinks, Wiley was able to reclaim the title in 2014 with a total of 1,905 drinks. According to official rules, each cocktail had to contain a minimum of three ingredients with at least one that’s alcoholic, and no two drinks could be the same.
Interestingly enough, a rivalry has developed between the United States and Germany as the title has also switched hands between the countries several times in the past. Even so, Wiley has managed to stay on top: in addition to this title, he also set the record for the most cocktails made in one minute with 18 mixed drinks. The secret to his success? Use of a soda gun, as opposed to only bottles, says Wiley.
3. Most Jewish Delis Named in a Minute: 30
In February 2009, David Sax successfully demonstrated an “encyclopedic knowledge of Jewish delis” by naming 30 of them in just one minute. Recordsetter.com reports that Sax showed tremendous focus during the feat as a heckler kept shouting “Carnegie!” during the recitation. Author of Save the Deli, the undisputed “pastrami expert of his generation” spent five years traveling the world to write his award-winning book, which sheds light on delicatessen culture.
The delis Sax named to break the world record are as follows: Liebman’s, Loeser’s, Lansky’s, Fine and Shapiro, Zabar’s, Artie’s, Carnegie, Stage, Katz’s, Second Avenue Deli, Ben’s, Sarge’s, Gottlieb’s, Adelman’s, Mill Basin, Caplansky’s, Kat’z, Coleman’s, Center Street, Schwartz’s, Main, Smoked Meat Pete, Snowdon Deli, Nate ’n Al’s — many of which are featured on our list of New York City’s Top 10 Under the Radar Delis.
4. World’s Largest Lox Bagel: 213.75 lbs
Back in February, Acme Smoked Fish and Zucker’s Bagels created the world’s largest lox bagel at the Acme headquarters on 30 Gem Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We were on site during the event, which featured live music and booming commentary provided by Richie Schiff, the Vice President of Sales for Acme.
To build the monstrous creation, about 40 pounds of cream cheese, 30 pounds of Acme’s Nova Scotia Smoked Salmon and mountains of tomato, onions and capers were used. When completed, the bagel measured 36″ wide and 13″ tall. As you can imagine, it required a bit of elbow grease to weigh the bad boy, which clocked in at exactly 213.75 pounds. See more photos of the record breaking bagel here, and read up on the history of the New York City bagel.
5. Farthest Distance to Be Carried by Other People: 9.4 Miles
In order to disprove the myth that New Yorkers are unfriendly, American comedian and filmmaker Mark Malkoff — the same man who lived in his bathroom for five days and previously visited all 171 Manhattan locations of Starbucks in 24 hours — asked strangers to give him a lift across the entire length of Manhattan.
In an incredible demonstration of kindness and generosity, Malkoff was carried 9.4 miles by 155 random people on December 18-19, 2009, which happened to be the coldest day of the year. The journey began at the southernmost end of Manhattan at Staten Island Ferry Terminal and ended at the northernmost end at 140th Street with Malkoff taking no forward steps on his own.
6. World’s Largest Collection of Pizza Boxes: 1000+ Boxes
Photo by Michael Berman courtesy Scott’s Pizza Tours
Self-described as a “full-time pizza enthusiast,” Scott Wiener is the mastermind behind Scott’s Pizza Tours, “New York’s Cheesiest Guided Tour.” What started off as a simple love for the cheese-loaded carb has now turned into an obsession for him. In addition to running his pizza tours with the help of a team of “pizza spirit guides,” Wiener writes an award-winning column for Pizza Today, judges pizza in culinary competitions and frequently appears on television shows/publications.
In 2013, he broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest collection of pizza boxes, currently housed in his Brooklyn apartment. At the time, he had amassed 595 boxes, but that collection has grown significantly since then. Today, he owns over 1000 boxes from 55 different countries. Within this collection, you can find everything ranging from variations of traditional boxes to a high-tech container that works with an iPad to allow people to play a pizza-themed video game. Perhaps his most notable item is the world’s largest usable pizza box, which measures 54″ by 54.”
7. Most Languages Reciting a Poem: 111
Queens resident Ashrita Furman is officially the holder of the most Guinness World Records in the world, including the record for holding the most Guinness World Records. In 2009, he also became the first person to simultaneously hold 100 records after assembling an international group to recite a poem in 111 different languages, ranging from Dzongkha to Picard.
The event took place at City Hall Park, and participants took turns reading “Precious,” by late Indian spiritual leader, Sri Chinmoy. The group effort, held in celebration of the 45th anniversary of Sri Chinmoy coming to America, broke the previous record, in which “Value on Community Harmony” was recited in 79 languages.
8. World’s Longest Line of Hot Dogs: 1,916
In 2016, Nathan’s Famous celebrated its 100th anniversary by building a continuous line of hot dogs at Grand Central Terminal: 1,916 of them to be exact (in honor of the year the company was founded). “There are certain brands, certain things that say really New York, the Empire State Building is one, the Brooklyn Bridge. Nathan’s hot dogs stands beside them,” said George Shea, Chairman of Major League Eating and host Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest.
The previous record was set in Tokyo in 2014, which gave rise to an 846-foot line. Nathan’s, however, beat that record by over 100 feet, constructing a 958-feet continuous flow of bun-to-bun hot dogs.
9. World’s Fastest Half Marathon While Running in a Suit: 1:11:36
In 2017, Chris Estwanik broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest half marathon while wearing a suit — urged by the promise of a free round of a Dark and Stormy rum-based cocktail. He clocked in at a time of 1:11:36 at the NYC Half, shattering the previous mark by more than seven minutes and placing 55th overall.
Prior to the run, he embarked on a search for the most flexible suit he could find: a slim cut, navy “Slim Photographer,” which he purchased off the rack for $400. In true New York City fashion, he sped past the finish line in style, sporting stylish sunglasses and a beaming smile.
10. World’s Most Expensive Painting: $450.3 Million
Image courtesy Christie’s
Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, or “Savior of the World,” is a 25 7/8 x 18 inch oil on panel painting, featuring Jesus Christ gesturing a blessing with his right hand and holding a crystal orb—the world—in his left; it was painted around 1500, approximately the same time Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa. In 1958, mistaken as a copy, it sold at a Christie’s auction for $60; it was discovered to be an original in 2011, and consequently brought in $450.3 million (including fees) last year, the highest price for any work of art ever sold at auction, reports the New York Times.
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