Away from the dense crowds of Times Square and the tourists of Central Park and the Upper East Side, the Financial District offers a chance to explore a quieter, more residential side of Manhattan. Within a few blocks, you can enjoy world-class attractions and local dining. You can experience for yourself why the Financial District is more than just Wall Street.
The Financial District is located at the lower end of Manhattan, protruding in a triangle, at the confluence of the Hudson and East Rivers, and is the birthplace of New York City in 1624. On one side is Brooklyn and on the other is Jersey City. The green space offers a great view of Ellis Island and Governor’s Island. It is, of course, home to the New York Stock Exchange, as well as One World Trade Center and Goldman Sachs World Headquarters, a hub of international financial institutions that attracts a large number of business people on weekdays and a select group of tourists on weekends.
While the Financial District was previously seen as a neighborhood of work, no play, and no life, it is now home to more than 60,000 permanent residents. People seem to have realized that the area is not only a great place to work, but also a great place to stay and enjoy the green spaces, shopping, attractions and restaurants that have sprung up over the years. Likewise, more hotels have opened, catering to both business and leisure travelers seeking the less busy side of New York.
Here, it’s easy for travelers to wake up on the weekends and walk up to their hotel room windows to see an empty street instead of an already crowded sidewalk. In the morning, you can take a leisurely stroll to the nearest coffee shop or take a quick walk to the more tourist-heavy areas nearby, which are made especially for Midtown. Escaping large groups of tourists is as easy as joining them. Walk a few blocks from any of the main attractions and you’ll once again find yourself in a quieter, more private version of Manhattan.
The Q&A Residential Hotel (70 Pine St.) is located in a predominantly residential building that occupies several lower floors. To really feel like a native of the financial district, you can stay here and easily pretend you’re living in a modern luxury New York apartment instead of a hotel. The entrance is on a secluded side street, and guests enter through the same door as residents, then check in at a somewhat hidden lobby and take the elevator up to one of the hotel’s few floors. Room options range from studio spaces to two-bedroom suites. Each room offers a full kitchen with stainless steel appliances and everything you need to cook, just like you would at home. Furnishings include plenty of seating and space for dining and living. Storage space is also plentiful.
The Four Seasons New York Downtown (27 Barclay St.) is in an excellent location if you’re looking to be near one of the more heavily toured areas, such as the World Trade Center. However, this hardly makes the property less of a respite. Offering the luxuries travelers have come to expect from the Four Seasons brand, the hotel is in one of the tallest residential buildings in the city, with a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, indoor lap pool and full-service spa.
Restaurants, Bars & Cafes
Financier Patisserie (62 Stone St.) is a French-style cafe and bakery, often lauded as the home of New York City’s best croissant. While the croissants are definitely worth a taste, there’s so much to be found at this cute and cozy spot. Biscotti, cheesecake, tiramisu, mousse, various French cakes, omelets, quiche and sandwiches — find it all on the expansive menu that, in a rare case, does not sacrifice quantity for quality. The café can be crowded on certain mornings, but if you’re in the mood for an afternoon coffee, you’ll find plenty of space to sip in peace and snack on a pastry or two while you work or simply people watch out the large front windows.
Adrienne’s Pizza Bar (54 Stone St.) offers both indoor and outdoor dining in a narrow space off the beaten path. The delicious brick oven pizza is made-to-order, with fresh ingredients. The crunchy crust is tempting even to non-crust eaters. Beyond the pizza, various Italian dishes are available, all high quality and authentic. The drink menu is limited, but does the job, with a brief selection of draft beers, wines and pitchers of margaritas, mojitos and sangrias.
If it’s just a beer you’re craving, Table Green Cafe (1 Battery Place) is a beautiful spot to get some fresh air and sip a local brew in one of the neighborhood’s most inviting spots — The Battery. The small stand with limited seating serves a selection of New York beers, wine and lemonade alongside a few sandwiches and wraps. The shaded seating area — with views of the park, as well as the water — is perfect for a summer afternoon or evening. You’re likely to spot many date-going couples here on the weekend, before they head off to their next stop of the night.
While you might not automatically think the Financial District would be a good fit for barbecue lovers, think again. There are several barbecue joints in the area, but Route 66 Smokehouse (46 Stone St.), on historic Stone Street, is as excellent a choice as any. The menu is filled with rib-sticking, enhanced versions of traditional barbecue dishes, served alongside a selection of whiskeys and beers. You can also order limited-time-trendy drinks, like rosé slushes. In the summer, enjoy outdoor seating in the alleyway, where guests squeeze together on wobbly picnic tables, enjoying good company and great food underneath the charming string lights.
In the Financial District, it’s surprisingly easy to find a well-manicured and -designed green space to relax, snap a few photos and escape the concrete jungle.
The Battery sits right on the waterfront. While the modern Battery came into existence around the mid-1800s, the historic locale was an artillery battery dating back to the 1600s. Its 25 acres are now home to several monuments, including the popular SeaGlass Carousel and Castle Clinton. There are several eateries, beer gardens, fountains and a walkway along the waterfront, with seating to watch the arriving and departing ferries and fishermen or enjoy views of the Statue of Liberty.
Though many visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum (180 Greenwich St.) for the museum itself, if you either don’t have time or interest to visit the museum, the Memorial Plaza is still a breathtaking spot to behold. The plaza is actually a green roof for the underground museum, located 70-feet below street level. Along with two reflecting pools, the plaza features concrete slabs for seating and shade provided by dozens of swamp white oak trees.
New York City’s oldest park is Bowling Green (Broadway & White Hall St.), which was originally a council ground for Native American tribes and the site of the 1626 sale of Manhattan to Peter Minuit. Thereafter, the Dutch used the area as a social space for meetings, celebrations and trade. At one point, it did host an actual bowling green for lawn bowling. Now, you can visit the small space to see the original fence, from the 1700s, as well as the iconic Charging Bull sculpture.