Historic Leaping: 6 Incredible Things That Happened on Leap Days in NYC

We're hoping you're making the best of your extra day today! We know we are

Leap Days are unusual simply because they're an extra day we add to our calendar year once every four years. Why? Because it takes the earth 365 1/4 days to travel around the sun. 

Does that seem insignificant to you? Let's put it in these terms: if we didn't have leap days, today's date would actually be July 15, 2017. 

That's a pretty big difference from what we'd typically expect the bikini season to feel like. Plus, we wouldn't want to deprive ourselves from the fun of a leap day... they're unique, unusual, and, plainly put, a necessary part of our calendars. 

But what happened in NYC on other leap days? We scoured the internet and history books to find some of the most interesting/notable/weird things to occur on leap days in the five boroughs. 

Needless to say, things get a little interesting.

1. 1929 - The New York Times published an article about words heard on the street

It seems as if New Yorkers were always coming up and captivated by dope slang... even The New York Times isn't above defining colloquialisms for the uninformed. 

Unlike the terminology of today, some of the older terms seem a bit more tame than terms like "on fleek," "sliding into your DM's," and "niz." To be honest, we'd much rather use the terms "plastered" or "blotto" when referring to inebriation than "lit." 

Heck, we'd even like to use terms like "making whoopee" for having sex instead of "banging." 


However, if you're anything like us, you've probably heard your grandparents use the term "kibitzer" when referring to someone who "attends to business other than his own," or a busybody who doesn't mind their own business. Yiddish FTW ("for the win," for those not hip to the lingo). 

2. 1952 - 1st Pedestrian "Walk/Don't Walk" signs installed on 44th and Broadway


Walk/Don't Walk signs: being ignored by New York City pedestrians since February 29, 1952.

We kid (sorta). The first of these signs were actually installed on 44th and Broadway in Times Square on this day 64 years ago. Though we're sure that both car safety and pedestrian safety have improved since the days of the Ford Thunderbird, we're also positive that these signs definitely played a part. 

Though there are conflicting indications of whether or not the first automated signs appeared earlier in the month, we're going to go along with author Richard Alan Schwartz, who states in his book, The 1950's, that the first signs were installed on the 29th. 

These signs flashed "Walk" for 22 seconds, before blinking "Don't Walk" for 10 seconds, before returning to a solid, "Don't Walk" for 58 seconds. 

3. 1960 - White House releases a report stating that America's kids were getting too fat


Okay, so this doesn't have to do with NYC directly, but we're including it... mainly because the struggle to end childhood obesity and childhood hunger has been going on since the early 60's. 


No bueño. 


4. 1964 - "Rugantino" closes at Mark Hellinger Theater after 28 performances


Ever heard of the Italian show entitled "Rugantino?" Well, it performed a sold out three week run that ended on February 29th after 28 performances. 

The playbill describes the plot as "[an] Italian cad makes a bet that he can seduce the wife of one of Rome's most prominent citizens." 


Sounds like a winner to us. 

As one of the most successful Italian musicals, it returned to Broadway in 2014 to celebrate its 50th Anniversary of its Broadway Debut. 

5. 1976 - Ja Rule was born in Queens

Yea, okay this one was just there. 

But Ja Rule is a leapling, or baby born on a leap day in Queens. By leap year standards, he's only 10 years old. 

Happy Birthday, Ja Rule!

6. 1988 -  NYC Mayor Koch calls Reagan a wimp in the war on drugs


If you thought Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks his mind, you've obviously forgotten about Mayor Ed Koch from the Bronx. 

On this day 28 years ago, Mayor Koch called President Ronald Reagan a "wimp" due to his relatively lenient stance on the war on drugs. 


Of course, he did it in a very New York fashion, by taking out a full page advertisement in The New York Times with the photo of a 22-year old police officer that had been killed the week prior while protecting a witness in a drug related case. 

He then went on CBS This Morning to state, "[we] are truly in a war with drug pushers, but the President is not acting as a commander in chief. If anything, he's acting as a wimp." 

Check out 8 Simple Ways New Yorkers Can Become Everyday Heroes in NYC

[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram] 

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