In 1824, a joker spread the rumor* that the dense urban development at the southern tip of Manhattan island was causing the island to sink. Merchants and traders, heavily invested in the contents of warehouses along the dock streets worried* that they could lose all. The joker got financial backing* for his scheme** to saw Manhattan in half, tow the southern portion into the harbor, turn the thing around, and jam it back into place. He paid* dozens of unemployed men to stand around with saws, and then fled with the rest of the money*, claiming that the pressure had been otherwise equalized.
*Or maybe not.
This story has been retold on several occasions since the 1860s and damned if it doesn't get better each time.