Outdated Laws in New York State
We know local legislators are busy with taxes and civil equality, but perhaps it’s time to revisit these weird, long-forgotten laws.
Heard the one about six girls living in a house? You should if you live in Boston, New Orleans…or New York City, where it’s illegal for more than three unrelated people to cohabitate. Don’t scoff yet: the Empire State is subject to its share of outdated, madcap laws, ranging from the embarrassingly obvious (such as the state provision that blind persons not drive automobiles) to the hilariously specific: eating peanuts while walking backwards when a concert is playing is illegal in Greene, New York.
Lawmakers are apparently concerned with more than slipping on discarded nut shells. In New York State, urinating on pigeons is a strict no-no. But women are free to publicly give “the girls” some air as long as they’re not doing it for business purposes.
In Carmel, New York, it is apparently a crime for men to mismatch their pants and jacket. Flirting on the streets of New York can earn you a $25 fine, too. The penalty for a second violation? Horse-blinders—you apparently will be required to wear them anytime you go outside.
Spitting on the street in the Big Apple is out, too, as is dancing, unless it’s only you and two buddies doing so. And if you smoke, remain 100 feet from public buildings when lighting up—or else. When out and about, leave the handcuffs at home, or risk getting a pair slapped on by a member of the NYPD. And when you take that elevator up to your hotel room, look straight ahead, keep your hands folded, and refrain from conversing with other passengers. Oh yes, and don’t use cyanide to clean your eating utensils (Really!). Or carry an ice cream cone in your pocket on Sundays. We have no idea why you’d want an ice cream cone in your pocket on any day, but, definitely refrain from doing so on church day.
Don’t worry about that roommate law if you live in a student dorm or a group home, but why is this 60-year-old law on the books at all, you ask? A New York City rep cites safety concerns, and a former housing commissioner pointed to previous attempts to turn boarding houses into family homes. Although infrequently enforced, the law is occasionally called upon by agitated neighbors—or by tenants fed up with their landlord. Not that we’re encouraging that sort of thing.