Strange Laws in New York

New York is known for its beautiful lakes and mountains, a great wine growing region, and lots of farms, small towns, and resorts. Among its wonders, New York state contains New York City, the most populous city in the U.S. New York City has the largest concentration of billionaires anywhere on the globe, contains the financial heart of the world, Wall Street, and is the ultimate destination for every wannabe taxi cab driver in the world. With the exception of Ted Cruz, it seems everyone loves New York.


New York state, however, also has some of the stranger laws on the books today. From throwing a ball at someone’s head to jumping off a building to going topless, strange laws in New York have it covered.


Here is just some of the weird laws in New York:


Wearing a mask – It’s hard to believe, but in 1845, much of what is present-day New York City, was still farmland. To respond to the lowering of wheat prices, tenant farmers started dressing up as Indians and, covering their faces with masks. In their anonymity, they began to attack the police. That was when the New York City council made it illegal for two or more people to congregate while wearing face coverings that disguised their identities. There are, of course, exceptions to the law. Those exceptions are Halloween, masquerade parties, and politicians who never show their real faces until they’ve been elected.


Adultery – Section 255.17 of the New York State Penal Codes states that adultery is a crime. If two people or more engage in sexual intercourse and any of the partners has a living spouse, that person is considered an adulterer. Adultery is a Class B misdemeanor which is punishable by 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. I have a feeling if they tried to crack down on adulterers in New York, the state would rapidly run out of jail space and have to house their criminals in other states. Even though it’s rare for this ordinance to be enforced, about a dozen people have been charged with this crime since 1970.


Going topless – Anywhere a man can go topless in New York so can a woman. This is true on the beach, on fifth Avenue, and even on the subway. The only stipulation for women is that they cannot go around topless for business purposes. Of course, there aren’t a lot of industries that would be effected by that ruling, but that exception was probably put in place after one too many aging prostitutes scared one too many politicians.


Flirting – A man in New York can be guilty of flirting if he is walking down a city street and turns around to look at a woman “in that way.”  A first offense is a $25 fine. If convicted a second time, a man can be required to wear horse-blinders whenever he leaves his home; however, New York City construction workers, considered to be some of the most obnoxious flirters in the world, seem to be exempt from this law.


Other antiquated and sometimes unfathomable laws across the state include:


It is illegal for women to wear “body hugging clothing” while walking down the street. But topless is ok as long as the bottom is not too tight.


No one is allowed to walk around with an ice cream cone in their pockets on Sundays. Are they allowed to carry fish in their pockets on Fridays?


Throwing a ball at someone’s head on purpose for fun is illegal. If it wasn’t for fun, then I guess it’s OK.


Strange laws in New York


Not sure if this is truly written into the law, but it is a rule most New Yorkers seem to abide by. When you’re on an elevator, you must keep quiet, fold your hands in front of you, and stare at the door. Breaking this law before 9:00AM can lead to instant execution by fellow passengers who haven’t had their morning coffee yet.


The law states that the penalty for jumping off a building is death. So, if at first you don’t succeed, don’t worry. The long arm of the law will give you a helping hand.


In Sag Harbor, it is illegal to disrobe in a wagon. You must exit the wagon and stand on the street to become topless.


During a concert, you are not permitted to eat peanuts and walk backwards in Greene, NY. I can think of absolutely nothing to say about this.


Kendall, NY, has a law that prohibits you from camping on your own land for more than 72 hours. Once a year, however, you can get a permit to allow you to camp on your own land for more than two weeks. But don’t dare be late on your property taxes.


On Staten Island, a father is prohibited from calling his son a “queer” or “faggot.” If he wants to find a way to chastise his son’s “girly behavior,” he must use words like “poofta” and “girlyman” which are much less offensive.


And then there is my personal favorite:


People are prohibited from greeting each other by “thumbing their noses.” On the other hand, no mention is made of giving each other the middle finger.


Though glamorous New York proclaims itself to be the Empire State, as we’ve seen it’s really no different than any other state with its abundance of antiquated laws.