The Financial District, built at a time when there were no zoning laws, is well known for its towering buildings which often lie right next to each other. Many of the old buildings have been refurbished or replaced by luxury residential high rises.
Due to its proximity to Wall Street, the area gets heavily populated during business hours then quiets down after dark. There are many surrounding amenities, including grocery stores, restaurants, theaters and hotels. Additionally, the South Street Seaport provides residents with a great place to shop, eat, or just enjoy the view of the city.
This relatively new residential and commercial neighborhood at the south westernmost tip of Manhattan is highlighted by Battery Park City and the World Financial Center. The center includes offices, dining and retail space, an outdoor plaza and a marina. It also contains the Winter Garden, an enclosed glass forest complete with 40-foot tall palm trees. This area offers an over abundance of free entertainment, usually sponsored by the area businesses. The residential area of Battery Park City includes numerous hi-rise luxury buildings with views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island or the Hudson River. In addition there are many parks and gardens including Battery Park, and the esplanade along the Hudson River.
Where the East and Hudson Rivers meet and empty into the New York Bay sits the southern tip of Manhattan, serving as a proud example that New York City owes its historic supremacy among all other American cities to its closeness to sea. A harbor once bustling with seaborne commerce turned into what later became the greatest city in the world.
It was here that the Dutch established the colony of Nieuw Amsterdam in 1625. Dutch settlers built shelters and a fort to protect themselves from the Native Americans, who were initially friendly but later turned hostile. Fort Amsterdam, the original fort, was renamed when the British took over, then torn down in 1789 to make way for the Government House, a building intended as the residence for the nation’s President. Since New York’s hopes to become the nation’s permanent capital city did not come to pass, Government House became the state governor’s mansion until the state capital was moved to Albany in 1796.
Meanwhile, the customs service had moved to Wall Street. These facilities eventually became inadequate, so in 1892 the U.S. Treasury bought the plot of land just south of Bowling Green at Broadway and announced an architectural competition for a new Custom House. The design of Cass Gilbert won to represent the commercial greatness of the city, and of the nation, and his new building was erected in 1907.
Today the historic heart of New York is filled with steel and concrete clusters of buildings that comprise the world-renown Financial District at the southernmost tip. While no sight in the world is more beautiful, admired, visited or stared at than the skyline of Lower Manhattan, especially at night, the city’s face was permanently marred by an act of terrorism on September 11, 2001 which destroyed the city’s “Twin Towers” of power known as the World Trade Center. Yet, the area has and will always remain a mecca of finance, commerce, high-technology, even government bureaucracy with City Hall perched downtown.
Lower Manhattan is bordered on the West with the intricately-planned Battery Park City and World Financial Center, and on the North lies Chambers Street and City Hall Park. A vital force driving Lower Manhattan’s Financial District has long been Wall Street, for the most part a 24-hour business community, which is both an actual street and a shorthand name for the vast, powerful financial center clustered around the sites of the New York and American Stock Exchanges. Though office space has been shifted with the forced move of many companies, including the New York Stock Exchange, due to the 9/11 disaster, many companies have stayed firmly planted downtown, while others have made plans to rebuild and move back.
Contrasted with the area’s frenzied weekday rush is the calm which follows each evening. To the contrary, after-work evenings and weekends draw an incredible rush of people at the South Street Seaport just blocks away on the East River waterfront, which features lovely outdoor and indoor restaurants, shops, entertainment and serene water views. The area also offers two delightful pockets of neighborhood life, one of which is tucked in right near the Seaport and the other nestled along the Hudson waterfront – Battery Park City – referred to as suburbia in Manhattan, and considered a city of 25,000 all unto itself.
Today Lower Manhattan is moving full-speed-ahead where redevelopment and revitalization are concerned. Generous grant programs, tax incentives and a remarkable cleanup have bolstered the residential and commercial real estate markets, and the area is currently one of the most sought-after in the city. Many developers are converting former office buildings into luxury residences and new construction is commonplace. At the same time, New Yorkers are eagerly awaiting the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site which will feature visionary design as well as the world’s tallest building. Lower Manhattan’s evolution from a predominantly commercial area to a mixed use, prime residential neighborhood has been truly amazing. Due to development efforts and market demand, this historic neighborhood now offers prime attractions, conveniences and entertainment, making it a highly requested place to both live and work.