The next stop on our New York adventure took us across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan for the first time. Downtown Manhattan – the bottom tip of Manhattan – is the Financial District and here you will find Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Federal Reserve. There are many older heritage buildings here and well-known destinations such as The Battery, the 9/11 Memorial and the Staten Island Ferry (which is one of our favourite New York attractions). The views of the Manhattan Skyline and the Statue of Liberty are incredible.
Historically, Lower Manhattan was where the old walled settlement and fortress of New Amsterdam was located, which eventually traded hands from the Dutch to the British, when it was re-named New York. Today, this is the heart of the financial district, and while the original walled city is buried underneath massive skyscrapers, some of the old features are memorialized – such as Canal and Wall Streets – built along where the old fortress once stood.
We walked across the bridge from the Brooklyn Waterfront, so by the time we got to Wall Street, we needed to stop for a snack to recharge. We found a famous Gin and Tonic bar – called the Lovelace Tavern – and sat down for some happy hour cocktails and snacks. This location once had a tavern that originally dated back to the 1600’s, but was long lost due to fire until the 1970s, when the foundation was discovered while revitalizing the downtown area on Broad Street. Our visit to the bar overlapped with the end of the trading day – and it was a Friday – so the after work crowds came pouring out of offices around 4:30 filling the bar around us.
One of our favourite things to do in Lower Manhattan is to take the Staten Island Ferry, and this was the next stop for the day. From the ferry – which takes about 15 minutes each way – you get incredible views of the Upper Bay, the Manhattan Skyline and most importantly, a close up view of the Statue of Liberty. Oh, and the best part, it’s free! The ferry to Staten Island travels close to the Statue of Liberty as it crosses the New York Harbour; we found a great outdoor spot on the boat and snapped some pictures of the statue. On the way back, we cracked a beer, and enjoyed the ride as we returned to Manhattan.
We walked through Battery Park after leaving the ferry, but daylight was beginning to fade and we had one last stop to make. The Battery has always been the defensive position for the island, with known fortifications dating back to the 17th century. In the park, you can find Castle Clinton, which was built just before the war of 1812. Today it is just a park, but filled with many different monuments and walking paths along the waterfront.
Our final stop for the day was a visit to the 9/11 Memorial. As we walked up from Battery Park, we passed the Firefighters Memorial on the outside of Firehall / Ladder #10, which is located across the street from the World Trade Center. Many of the very first responders that ran head on towards the disaster in 2001 came from here, and the names of all the 343 NYFD firefighters who lost their lives that day are listed here.
We crossed the street into the public park that stands where the towers once did. The 9/11 Memorial is a location now after many years of rebirth, and the footprints of the Twin Towers have been turned into reflecting ponds, surrounded by the names of the nearly 3000 people who died on September 11th. The location has been re-absorbed into the fabric of daily life, never forgetting, but moving forward. In it’s place, the recently finished One World Trade tower stands triumphantly, and the park has been turned into a place to quietly remember that sad day. We didn’t have time to visit the Museum, which has recently opened in a new building, but we will for sure next time.
The last stop of our sightseeing adventure was going into the Oculus, a massive white rib-like structure designed by Santiago Calatrava, which rises high above the ground. It is a major transportation hub, as it has connections to the PATH train to New Jersey and several connections to the NY Subway. It is the 5th busiest station in New York City. Inside is a two level underground mall, which is all part of the World Trade Complex. We had finished our busy day of sightseeing, and as the sun had now gone done, we made our way uptown, as we had dinner reservations in the East Village.
We hope you enjoy some pictures from Downtown Manhattan, and stay tuned for more of our New York adventures coming soon!