While New York’s Midtown Manhattan gets plenty of attention from tourist magnets Times Square and the Broadway Theatre District, consider heading downtown for a long weekend spent at the tip of the island. The oldest permanently inhabited part of the city, Lower Manhattan, also known as the Financial District, is bordered by Chambers Street which slices through Tribeca and ends at City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge. Chock-full of hotels, restaurants, shopping, and historical sights, make sure to include of few of these highlights on your itinerary:
9/11 Memorial and Museum:
This emotional memorial pays tribute to the 2,983 men, women, and children killed on 9/11 and in the 1983 bombing of the World Trade Center. The museum explores the events before, during, and after the attacks at all three sites in the U.S., (NY, PA, and DC). Two vast reflecting pools with waterfalls cascading down, stand in permanent remembrance to the footprints of the original Twin Towers.
Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the “Oculus” transit hub is a train station, plaza and shopping mall adjacent to the 9/11 Memorial. Replacing the PATH train station that was destroyed during the attacks, the impressive glass and steel structure resembles a white dove with wings spread. The west concourse connects the PATH train from New Jersey to Brookfield Place, an office complex across from the World Trade Center site.
Brookfield Place and Battery Park:
Formerly known as the World Financial Center, it’s an office complex and shopping mall in one with designer and contemporary fashion brands, a collection of restaurants, outdoor seating along the active waterfront with plenty of sailing charters and ferry services. The Winter Garden Atrium, a ten-story glass palm tree filled vaulted pavilion, plays hosts to concerts and cultural events. Step outside for a walk along the Battery Park Esplanade, a waterfront promenade that winds its way through the residential neighborhood, Battery Park City.
Staten Island Ferry:
The ferry that never sleeps operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The 25-minute FREE ride shuttles between Manhattan and New York’s outer and often forgotten borough, Staten Island.
Jewish Heritage Museum:
This museum functions as a living memorial to the Holocaust and New York’s contribution to the global responsibility to never forget. Their mission statement is “to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries — before, during, and after the Holocaust.” Always Remember; Never Forget.
Near the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway stands this Gothic Revival church. During the September 11 attacks, people took refuge inside the church from the massive debris cloud produced by the World Trade Center Tower collapse. History buffs (and Broadway show fans) will want to pay a visit to the church cemetery where Alexander Hamilton and his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, are buried.
On Wall Street, George Washington took the oath of office as our first President. This National Parks Memorial was home to the first Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices. Now, the building serves as a museum and memorial to our first President and the beginnings of the United States of America.
Yes, Wall Street is an actual street — eight-blocks long to be exact — running roughly from Broadway to South Street in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. But, no, you cannot visit the inside of the N.Y. Stock Exchange. But, you can take a selfie with the famous Charging Bull Sculpture which stands right outside.
One World Trade Center:
The new office towers built since the 9/11 attacks have transformed the skyline of Lower Manhattan. At its pinnacle is the One World Observatory, rising over 100 stories in the sky and offering 360 views of the city and beyond. Timed tickets can be purchased online.
The 200-year old seaport is nestled between the Brooklyn Bridge and the canyons of Wall Street. Stroll down historic cobblestone streets, explore shops and restaurants, enjoy cultural events and take a trip back in time at the Seaport Museum with its high masted sailing ships (guided tours available.)
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World Trade Center photo courtesy of Sebastiaan Flam