10 Strange New York City Laws

Have you recently received a ticket in New York City for something you didn't even know was illegal?

You’re not alone. New York City has some of the strangest laws on the books, and many people unknowingly break them. From not carrying an ice cream cone in your pocket on Sundays to no taking selfies with tigers, these laws can catch you off guard.

shocked

1. It is illegal to sell cat or dog hair.

2. You can be fined for flirting or staring suggestively at someone in public.

3. You cannot walk around with an ice cream cone in your pocket on Sundays.

4. It is illegal to honk your car horn for no reason.

5. You are not allowed to wear slippers after 10 pm in public establishments.

6. A license is required for hanging clothes on a clothesline.

7. It is illegal to fly a parachute over New York City.

8. No taking selfies with tigers.

9. It is against the law to use a puppet show to advertise or promote any business or sale.

10. It is against the law to use an umbrella while walking along a sidewalk unless it is raining.

1.

No Selling Cat or Dog Hair!

Have you been thinking about collecting and selling cat or dog hair to make some extra cash? Well, hold your horses (or dogs and cats) because it is actually illegal in NYC!

That’s right; you can’t just go around selling fur balls like they’re going out of style. You’ll have to find some other weird and wacky commodity to peddle because the fur trade is not a viable option in the Big Apple.

But let’s be real, would you actually want to be known as the crazy cat/dog hair salesperson? Maybe it’s time to rethink that business idea.

A statute that’s part of the state’s anti-cruelty provisions makes it a crime to “ import, sell, offer for sale… transport or otherwise market” dog or cat fur. If you’re trafficking in coyote, fox, lynx, or bobcat fur, on the other hand, you’re good. [1]

dog and cat
2.

Fines for Flirting?

Hey you, yes, you with the googly eyes and flirty banter! Did you know that your amorous antics could land you in some hot water in NYC?

That’s right; the city has a strict policy against flirting or staring suggestively at people in public. So if you’re looking for love in all the wrong places (i.e., on the street corner), you may just end up with a hefty fine instead of a phone number.

Now, don’t get us wrong, we love a good rom-com as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s best to leave the love lines at home and stick to a simple “hello” or smile. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and we don’t want to be the ones responsible for your hefty flirting fines!

New York City is known as a place where almost anything goes. This is also because the city authorities ignore a number of restrictive laws that are still in the law books. For instance, on this day in 1902, the New York State Legislature outlawed flirting in public. [2]

girl flirting with a man
3.

No Ice Cream Cones in Your Pocket on Sundays!

Attention ice cream lovers! If you’re planning on strolling around NYC on a sunny Sunday with a sneaky ice cream cone in your pocket, think again!

Believe it or not, carrying around a melting masterpiece in your pocket will have you breaking the law. Yes, you heard us right; you can’t cram your cream in your pocket on Sundays!

You may think it’s a sweet and sneaky way to beat the heat, but the city says no way José, and you’ll have to find another creative way to keep your cone cool.

Perhaps invest in a portable ice cream cooler or wear pants with extra large pockets to avoid any potential fines. We know it’s a bummer, but rules are rules, and we don’t want to see you getting busted by the ice cream police!

While no one truly knows where this law came from, there may once have been laws against eating cones on Sundays, resulting in the creation of the ice cream sundae. Perhaps this led to ice cream eaters sticking the cone in their pockets whenever they saw a police officer to avoid being ticketed. [3]

girl with ice cream ccone
4.

Don't Honk Your Car Horn for No Reason!

Beep beep! That sound you just heard was a reminder that honking your car horn for no reason is illegal in NYC! You can’t just go around honking your horn willy-nilly like you’re auditioning for the city’s biggest horn-honking championship.

You’ll have to find a more creative outlet for your car horn skills, like composing symphonies or sending secret messages in Morse code.

But don’t worry; you can still honk if it’s an emergency (like if you see a giant pothole ahead). Just don’t honk at pigeons or squirrels, they’re not impressed, and you’ll just be wasting your musical talents. Now get out there and make some car horn magic; just remember to honk responsibly (and legally)!

honking horn
5.

No Slippers After 10 pm in Public Establishments!

Attention all you slipper-wearers! It’s time to put on your dancing shoes because, after 10 pm in NYC, slippers are a no-go in public establishments.

Your cozy and comfy footwear is no longer acceptable past a certain hour, and you’ll have to find some stylish stilettos or fancy loafers to strut around in.

Maybe you can sneak some fluffy socks into your purse for later use, but don’t get caught with your slippers down! The city takes its dress code seriously, and you don’t want to be the one making fashion faux pas in public. So, let’s put those slippers to bed and grab some stylish shoes to rock the night away!

women with slippers
6.

Purchase a License Before Hanging Clothes on a Clothesline!

Hang up your clothes and hold up! Did you know that you need a license to hang clothes on a clothesline in NYC? The city takes drying your delicates seriously, and you’ll have to put some real effort into getting a license if you want to hang your shirts out to dry.

We’re not sure what the licensing process entails, but we imagine you’ll need to demonstrate your clothesline skills and prove that you won’t be hanging anything too wild and crazy (like a giant elephant costume).

And who knows, maybe the licensing department will even offer classes in advanced hanging techniques, like the elusive double-clothespin method or the gravity-defying sock trick. The possibilities are endless! So, be sure to dot your i’s, cross your t’s, and most importantly, hang those clothes with pride (and permission)!

clothing hanging to dry in city
7.

No Flying Parachutes Over New York City!

Look up in the sky; it’s a bird, it’s a plane… oh wait, it’s just some daredevil trying to fly a parachute over NYC. Hold your horses, parachute enthusiasts, because you’ll have to take your flying feats elsewhere.

That’s right; it is illegal to fly a parachute over NYC! Don’t get us wrong, we love a good skydiving session as much as the next person, but you’ll have to save your parachute thrills for the countryside or the beach.

Maybe you can come up with some alternative ways to get your adrenaline pumping, like bungee jumping, riding rollercoasters, or even just running away from angry pigeons. Let’s keep the skies safe for planes and birds and leave the parachutes at home (or at least outside city limits). Sky high adventures, here we come!

The same New York Times article also notes that parachuting over New York City, ”except in the event of imminent danger or while under official orders of any branch of the military service,” is strictly prohibited. [4]

parachutes over city
8.

No Taking Selfies With Tigers!

Hey, you Instagram addicts! We have some bad news for you. If you’re planning on taking a selfie with a tiger in NYC, you’ll have to put that dream on hold.

It’s illegal to take selfies with tigers in the city. We know how cool and fierce you feel posing next to a big cat, but it’s just not worth the risk of being fined or mauled (or both!). Plus, think about the poor tigers; they’re not here to be your photo props.

They deserve to be treated with respect and to live their lives tiger-style without being bothered by all your hashtagging and posing. So let’s leave the tiger selfies to the professionals (or the big cats’ mommas), and stick to taking pics with your adorable pets or your mom’s favorite checkered apron. 

The state of New York has effectively banned the popular trend of taking “selfie” photos with tigers or big cats by saying people are no longer allowed near dangerous animals at zoos, circuses, and carnivals. [5]

baby tiger with camera
9.

No Puppet Shows to Advertise!

Attention, all puppeteers! It’s time to put down your strings and listen up because using a puppet show to advertise business or sales is highly illegal in NYC! That’s right; you’ll have to find other creative ways to promote your puppetry skills (like handing out tiny puppet business cards or standing on street corners shouting about your amazing puppet shows).

We’re not sure what the punishment for breaking this law is, but we imagine it involves a lot of angry puppets and a stern talking-to from the city’s puppet police.

So let’s keep our puppet shows strictly for entertainment, and leave the advertising to more conventional methods, like billboards or TV commercials. After all, we don’t want to ruin the innocence of puppetry by throwing it into the world of business. Keep those puppet shows pure, my friends.

Interestingly enough, there is another strange puppet law on the books in New York. It’s illegal for any person to stage a puppet performance — or ballet, dancing, or ”other entertainment” — ”from any window or open space of any house or building.” [6]

puppets
10.

No Umbrellas Unless it Rains!

Rain, rain, go away (unless you bring an umbrella) but wait, not so fast! Did you know that it’s actually against the law to use an umbrella while walking along a sidewalk in NYC, unless it’s raining?

Yes, it’s true, folks, you can’t just use your umbrella as a walking stick or a shield from the sun. You’ll have to wait for those rainy days to whip out your fancy umbrella.

Maybe in the meantime, you can invent a cool and creative way to use your umbrella indoors or transform it into a funky hat (we won’t tell if you don’t). Just remember, if you’re caught using your umbrella on a sunny day, you might just end up with a fine that will rain on your parade.

woman with umbrella

If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, you need a personal injury law firm that knows how to handle your case with care and expertise.

At Goldberg & Loren, we understand that the laws can be strange and sometimes downright silly in NYC, but when it comes to personal injury, we take your safety seriously. Just like it’s illegal to take selfies with tigers (let’s be real, who would even want to do that?), we believe that the safety and well-being of our clients is of the utmost importance.

So, if you’ve been hurt due to someone else’s carelessness, don’t wait – contact Goldberg & Loren today and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.

We may not defend people from tickets or do criminal law, but we excel in personal injury cases because we’re passionate about protecting your rights and ensuring your safety in a sometimes-silly world.

Goldberg & Loren

Sources:

[1] Balsamini, D. (2016, June 19). New York City’s most ridiculous laws. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2016/06/19/new-york-citys-most-ridiculous-laws/

[2] Desk, F. W., & Desk, F. W. (2023, January 7). A crackdown on lovers in New York: The legislation that outlawed flirting. Free Press Journal. https://www.freepressjournal.in/world/a-crackdown-on-lovers-in-new-york-the-legislation-that-outlawed-flirting

[3] 10 of the strangest laws in New York State. (2017, May 29). Silive. https://www.silive.com/news/2017/05/strangest_laws_in_new_york_sta.html

[4] Chatelain, P. M. (2021, February 16). 11 of the Strangest Laws in NYC and New York State Page 9 of 12 – Untapped New York. Untapped New York. https://untappedcities.com/2017/09/28/cities-101-10-of-the-strangest-new-york-city-state-laws/9/

[5] United States: New York ban on “tiger selfies.” (2014, August 13). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-28778947

[6] No Window Puppets, No Parachutes, No Sunday Haircuts. (n.d.). NYTimes.com. https://archive.nytimes.com/query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage-9E07E4DF153FF931A2575AC0A96E9C8B63.html

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