Top New York Viral Stories and Photos of 2013

From breaking news to missing kids to heartwarming photos, we remember our most viral stories and photos of 2013.

23 photos
NBC News
@NBCNewYork's top tweet of the year was the exclusive story that a 250-pound, 5-foot piece of an airplane wing that was believed to be part of a 9/11 jetliner was found in an alley near the World Trade Center in May. Full story here.
This FEMA graphic shows where all the plane parts in the area were believed to have landed.
The devastating story of a fire that ravaged the Jersey Shore boardwalk in September was among our most shared online. Viewers recalled their memories over the years at their beloved oceanside spots, and were heartbroken to see so many landmarks destroyed. Full story here.
Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old mute autistic boy, went missing after wandering away from his school Oct. 4. He has not been found, and his story was among the most shared on Facebook in all of 2013. Full story here.
This possible hoax story was a true viral hit. After a gay server at a New Jersey restaurant said a customer denied her a tip and wrote her a hateful note on the receipt, a local family contacted NBC 4 New York and said their receipt shows they paid a tip and didn't write any such note. The waitress stuck to her story but was later let go from the restaurant, and some of the people who later gave her money had their contributions returned. Full story here.
An autistic boy's beloved Labrador retriever was returned to his family after it went missing for a week. The story of Echo was among our most popular of the year. Full story here.
Our audience can't get enough of the most famous Christmas tree in the world, and just after it was lit, we took this photo and it was one of our most shared images of the year.
Bear cubs wandered into a New Jersey back yard in August to play on the swingset, and the photos were among our most shared of the year. Full story here.
A Metro-North train derailed while barreling around a sharp curve on Dec. 1, killing four people and injuring more than 60 others. Our Facebook and Twitter audiences closely tracked the developments. Full story here.
Among our most viral stories of the year was about a piece of a steel column from the wreckage of the World Trade Center after 9/11. Some speculate you can see a face on the twisted structure. Full story here.
A 20-year-old man wearing a motorcycle helmet and dressed in all black walked into a busy New Jersey mall minutes before it closed one November night and began shooting, sending terrified customers running and trapping hundreds more in the building overnight as police searched for him. No one was injured, and he was later found dead of a self-inflicted wound. The story got a lot of attention online as the saga unfolded. For hours overnight, police did not know where he was. Full story here.
A gruesome and sad story that got a lot of attention online in August: a 19-year-old man playing with a remote control helicopter in Brooklyn lost control of it and sliced off the top of his own head. He did not survive. Full story here.
After a 19-year-old college student from Queens said he had been handcuffed and locked in a jail cell after buying a $350 designer belt at Barneys, his story attracted nationwide attention and was followed by several others who stepped forward and told similar tales of what became known as "shop and frisk." Full story here.
LinkedIn and NBC 4 New York
This terrifying story resonated among many New Yorkers -- Jennifer Rosoff (inset), 35, fell after the railing gave way on her 17-floor balcony in Manhattan in early August. She was outside with her date at the time. Full story here.
Thousands marched in Times Square in July to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The story of the verdict and local protests was among our most-shared on social media.
NBC News
This photo taken by NBC News in May on the day the World Trade Center spire was installed was widely shared among our social media audience.
Our viewers were creeped out but fascinated: A fisherman at a New Jersey lake got a surprise in September when he hooked an exotic fish that's been rumored to feast on testicles. His 10-inch catch was a pacu, which is a gentler cousin of piranhas found in South America's Amazon River. Full story here.
bsanchz/Isvett Verde
A dead shark discovered on an N train in August caused quite an uproar online, and the photos snapped by witnesses quickly went viral. Full story here.
NBC 4 New York
The spring invasion of cicadas, which only come every 17 years, was a big hit online as viewers from around the tri-state showed us what was popping up in their yards, and shared their stories and experiences. This was taken on Staten Island in May. Full story here.
This photo of a frozen-over Bryant Park fountain was among our most shared images on Facebook. It was taken on a brutally cold day in January when temperatures only creeped up to the mid-20s.
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