A traveler remaining on the perception deck at the Empire State Building ventures into his pocket and hauls out a penny. He ventures to the edge and flips the coin over the defensive fencing, where it falls somewhere in the range of 1,400 feet (427 meters) around the walkway underneath. The coin hits the skull of an unwitting walker, executing the individual — and transforming an apparently innocuous trick into a lethal demonstration.
While this hasn’t really happened, it’s a situation so frequently rehashed that it’s achieved urban legend status. What’s more, similar to a great deal of urban legends, the “drop a penny, slaughter a man” story has a grain of truth at its center.