The Financial District is where you’ll find several of New York City’s most significant attractions, including such major landmarks as Wall Street, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, One World Trade Center, and One World Observatory. It’s also the site of The Battery, the historic park at the far southern edge of Manhattan. The Battery contains dozens of memorials, acres of gardens, spectacular views of New York Harbor, and it’s even where you can catch the ferry that’ll take you to the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
Financial District Neighborhood History
What is now considered the Financial District was where Manhattan Island was originally colonized by the Dutch during the seventeenth century. The Financial District was part of their New Amsterdam development until the British took over control of the site and renamed the location New York City in the 1660s. From these early days of European settlement on, the area became a prosperous node in the global economy, eventually becoming home to some of the world’s earliest skyscrapers. Today, the Financial District is very popular with visitors, who are drawn to the area for its numerous attractions and the fact that Statue Cruises’ ferry service to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island depart from the neighborhood.
Exploring The Financial District
No matter what you’re most interested in experiencing during your visit, there’s a tremendous amount to see and do within the Financial District. The global economy is in no small part run from the institutions located within these city blocks, and you’ll encounter here Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Museum of American Finance, and of course, Charging Bull, the bronze sculpture that serves as a de facto mascot for contemporary capitalism.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is one of New York City’s most remarkable attractions. Comprised of an eight-acre memorial and 100,000 square feet of exhibition space displaying artworks, physical artifacts, and video testimonies, this powerful museum is a special place where one can reflect on the lives lost during and after the attacks on 9/11.
New York City is home to multiple fantastic viewing platforms, but only one of them is located in the Western Hemisphere’s single tallest building: One World Observatory. Occupying the 100th, 101st, and 102nd floors of One World Trade Center, One World Observatory provides guests with amazing, 360-degree views of New York City, New Jersey, and beyond.
The Financial District is also home to the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the National Museum of the American Indian. The Museum of Jewish Heritage was designed to function as “a living memorial to the Holocaust,” and its varied educational exhibits share rich insights about the past two centuries of Jewish life. The New York City branch of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian is located in the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. It features a host of exhibits, artifacts, film screenings, and more.
The Financial District is located at the very southern tip of Manhattan. To the north are prominent Lower Manhattan neighborhoods like Tribeca and Chinatown, while a quick trip across the nearby Brooklyn Bridge can get you to Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, and Brooklyn Bridge Park in hardly any time at all.
Financial District Dining
The Financial District is not known as one of New York City’s better food neighborhoods, but that doesn’t mean there still aren’t plenty of terrific places out there waiting to be tried. After all, none other than acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud operates one of his beloved restaurants (Le Gratin) here.
For a memorable meal that comes with a whopping side helping of history, head to Fraunces Tavern. Located within one of New York City’s oldest surviving buildings—a structure where none other than George Washington was a frequent visitor—Fraunces Tavern has a dining room with an expansive menu, three distinct bars, and its very own 8,000-item collection of historical artifacts housed throughout a nine-gallery, on-site museum.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, one of the Financial District’s newest and most buzz-worthy dining establishments is the recently opened Urbanspace Pearl. This 15,000-square-foot food hall occupies an inviting, block-long space where over a dozen local vendors have stalls selling a wide selection of food and drink across the cuisine spectrum.
Financial District Shopping
The prime shopping destination in the Financial District these days would have to be Westfield World Trade Center. This high-end mall is built around the World Trade Center’s Oculus Transportation Hub. It contains dozens of stores and dining options, and regularly holds special events such as farmers’ markets, art installations, live performances, happy hours, yoga classes, and more.
Explore The Financial District Like a Local
- If you’re in the mood for a New York Harbor cruise, but keep blinking at the prices you’re being quoted, hop on the Staten Island Ferry. This famed jaunt between boroughs runs 24-7, provides fabulous views of the city, and best of all, is entirely free. You can jump on it from here in the Financial District, at Whitehall Terminal in The Battery.
- If you’re interested in eating at the Fraunces Tavern, keep two tips in mind. First, be sure to make a reservation. This can be done via their official website, and it’ll save you the hassle of waiting in line for a table. Second, be prepared to spend. Whether it involves the passing of time or the paying of the tab, history doesn’t come cheaply
- More and more people these days are taking the time to explore Governors Island, a popular outdoor destination situated in New York Harbor between the Financial District and Brooklyn. It has bike trails, playgrounds, food vendors, picnic areas, and more, and if you’re planning on checking it out, you can catch a ferry to the island from the Battery Maritime Building, which is directly next to Whitehall Terminal.