NEW YORK — At the southern tip of Manhattan lies the Financial District — a New York City neighborhood off the tourist-beaten path.
It’s known for Wall Street bankers and stock market exchanges, but this quiet area of the Big Apple is full of famous sights and historic districts that any sightseer, history buff or foodie should add to their New York City trip itinerary.
South Street Seaport
At Fulton and Water streets, you’ll find a historic district that has been restored and revamped as a shopping center. The seaport has name brand retailers, restaurants, ice cream shops and stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge. A redevelopment at Pier 17 is slated to open in 2016, adding more eateries, alfresco bars and New York City’s first luxury movie theater.
Spanning the East River from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States and a national landmark. Pedestrians and cyclists can cross between the two boroughs via the promenade.
Wall Street & New York Stock Exchange
You can’t tour the inside, but the New York Stock Exchange’s neoclassical exterior includes six Corinthian columns and a sculpture titled “Integrity Protecting the Works of Man.”
Ground Zero & National 9/11 Memorial and Museum
The site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center features two 30-foot waterfalls, where the Twin Towers once stood. To view the memorial, you can make a reservation on 911memorial.org for a small processing fee, or you can attempt to get a same-day pass for free at 20 Vesey Street. To visit the museum, which opened in May, you can purchase tickets at 911memorial.org.
Only in New York City will you find a beautiful Episcopalian church surrounded by skyscrapers. In addition to the mid-1800s architecture, including a spire that made the church the tallest building in New York upon its completion in 1846, a real draw to visitors today is one of the church’s graveyards, where Alexander Hamilton is buried.
Staten Island Ferry
Views of the Financial District’s skyscraper-filled skyline and the Statue of Liberty are entirely free on this 5.2-mile ferry ride between Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan and St. George Terminal on Staten Island. It’s the cheapest way to see Lady Liberty!
Located along the waterfront, Battery Park is a grassy respite from the concrete jungle. Castle Clinton, originally erected during the War of 1812, was an immigration center prior to Ellis Island. Today, it’s where you’ll buy your ferry tickets to Liberty and Ellis islands. From Battery Park, you can see Lady Liberty, Ellis Island, Jersey City, Governor’s Island and Staten Island on a clear day.
Statue of Liberty
If you’d like a closer look at this iconic New York landmark, take Statue Cruises to Liberty Island. Make reservations at statuecruises.com to go up to Lady Liberty’s crown and to visit the museum. It’s only a $3 differential between the ferry ticket with access only to the island’s grounds ($18) and the reservation to go into the crown ($21).
Ellis Island visitors take the same ferry as Statue of Liberty visitors, so it’s a natural choice to add to your itinerary. For any American whose ancestors were European immigrants, Ellis Island is a must-visit attraction to learn what they experienced in order to find a more prosperous life. Set aside two hours to explore the informative exhibits using the audio tour, and then check the wall outside for names of your relatives who came to America through Ellis Island.
Stone Street Historic District
Tucked between skyscrapers, this cobblestone street is filled with umbrella-covered tables during the summer months. It’s the perfect spot for a weekend brunch or a round of beers on a Friday night. Try the savory Eggs Benedict at Stone Street Tavern!