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Get to know the Financial District

The southern tip of Manhattan, below Chambers on the west side and the Brooklyn Bridge on-ramps on the east side, is a dense, historic neighborhood. The Financial District (sometimes FiDi) is also home to a number of iconic sites, including Wall Street and the World Trade Center Memorial. Wandering its streets is a journey through the layers of New York’s past. Street names like Beaver, Pearl, and Nassau — and their irregular routes — evoke the days when New York was a small Colonial trading post. Today, however, glass-and-steel towers soar above those lanes. At the South Street Seaport, old and new coexist in a different way, with former warehouses repurposed to house stores and restaurants. While the Financial District was long desolate after the end of the trading day, its population has grown dramatically in recent years, to an estimated 63,000 in 2018 from only 23,000 in 2000.
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History & Culture

This is where it all began, though survivors from New York’s, and before it New Amsterdam’s, early days are hard to find. The most visible legacy is the street plan, with Broadway and Wall, Bridge, and other streets following the same routes as they have for centuries. Though it has been redesigned over the centuries, Bowling Green is the site where Dutch cattle grazed and redcoats trained. St. Paul’s Chapel, on Broadway near Fulton, is the only surviving building from before 1776 in its original, largely unaltered state. Still, there are impressive buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries (Trinity Church, Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building) and dazzling contemporary works by leading architects (Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus, Frank Gehry’s New York building). Of the Financial District’s museums, two stand out: the Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian, in the old Customs House on Broadway, and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

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Dine & Shop

Until recently, the Financial District emptied out when the business day ended, but as it became a place to live and play, as well as to work, the number of bars, restaurants, and other amenities exploded. The South Street Seaport’s rebirth as a shopping and nightlife destination in 1982 was ahead of its time. It continues to draw diners and shoppers from points farther north, especially on sunny summer evenings. The bars and restaurants at new hotels including the Andaz Wall Street, the Beekman, Four Seasons Downtown, and the W New York Downtown cater to locals as well as guests, while the new World Trade Center buildings include a half million square feet of retail space. Brookfield Place competes, with its own selection of restaurants and shops. Finally, Tribeca, Soho, Nolita, and other lower Manhattan neighborhoods are all just a short Uber or subway ride away.