Things To Do In NYC Financial District: Top 15 Most Unique Spots | Stanton House Inn

viewing the Financial District NYC from the harbor is one of the best things to do in NYC Financial District

The Financial District sits at Manhattan’s southern tip. The oldest neighborhood of the island, it’s a unique blend of history and modernity. Here, 200-year-old buildings stand beside towering skyscrapers. This area houses landmarks such as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum; and Wall Street, the economic heart of America. But it’s not all business. The district also offers a variety of bars, restaurants, and hotels. You can visit attractions like the South Street Seaport and the Brooklyn Bridge. So, be sure to spend some time exploring the atmosphere of this unique neighborhood. Discover its hidden gems and make the most of your visit to the Financial district of New York City.

 

Ready to explore the best things to do in the NYC Financial District? Let’s get into it:

 

Quick hits

  • Take time to explore the NYC Financial District and its iconic landmarks. These include the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall National Memorial.
  • Experience unique attractions like Trinity Church, Stone Street, and The Battery for a memorable time.
  • Make sure to check out nearby sights. Ellis Island, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty are not to be missed!

things to do in the nyc financial district map Things to Do in NYC Financial District: Top Spots
Map design by Stanton House Inn

A Brief History of the Financial District of NYC

1660 historical map of New Amsterdam and the now Financial District NYC

New York’s Financial District has been the hub of American commerce and finance since its inception as New Amsterdam in 1624. Today, it houses globally recognized New York City landmarks such as:

 

  • The New York Stock Exchange
  • The Federal Hall National Memorial
  • The One World Trade Center

 

The district’s architecture is a striking blend of the past and the present. And it’s why the National Park Service has a presence here, a rather unexpected reality.

 

Colonial Era

1660 drawing of New Amsterdam in what is now the Financial District NYC

The area now known as the Financial District of Manhattan was once home to New Amsterdam. Fort Amsterdam, the namesake of the area, served as a stronghold to protect the Dutch West India Company’s fur trade. This fort and town became an extension of the Dutch Republic and was capital of New Netherland. By 1625, it had already grown into a busy commercial hub. In 1655, New Netherland had a population of 2,000, with 1,500 of those people living in New Amsterdam. The population exploded to 9,000 by 1664. New Amsterdam housed 2,500, Fort Orange housed 1,000, and the rest were scattered throughout the province. In 1664, the English took control of New Amsterdam and renamed it New York City.

 

1800s & 1900s

Aerial view of the Financial District NYC in 1942

In the 19th and 20th centuries, New York City became a corporate powerhouse. It rivaled Chicago in the race to build the tallest skyscrapers. This was largely due to Manhattan’s geology. The island’s deep and thick bedrock made it well-suited for the construction of skyscrapers. Workers commuted to the area during the day and left at night. The only residential area nearby, Bowling Green, was famous for its poverty and squalid conditions. To this day, the presence of that neighborhood is why there’s a gap in skyscrapers between FiDi and Midtown Manhattan.

 

The Financial District has seen substantial growth in the past two decades. There has been a steady shift towards residential use thanks to technological changes and shifting market conditions. New areas such as Battery Park City (on top of a former trash heap) and Southbridge Towers were added. Construction on the World Trade Center began in 1966, but it was difficult to find tenants. The late 1990s brought a real estate boom. New projects began popping up in the Financial District and across Manhattan.

 

The Lower Manhattan Revitalization Plan was introduced in 1995. This plan offered incentives to convert commercial properties to residential use. By 1996, a fifth of the buildings and warehouses were empty. Many of these empty buildings converted into living spaces. Residents began demanding amenities such as a supermarket, movie theater, pharmacy, more schools, and somewhere to get a decent diner.

 

September 11th Attacks & Modern Era

The twin towers of the World Trade Center in the Financial District NYC in the 1970s

The 21st century started in the Financial District with the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The physical destruction was immense. Streets were littered with debris, National Guard members manned checkpoints, and abandoned coffee carts lay on the sidewalks. The NYSE reopened on September 17, but the financial services industry suffered a downturn.

 

That said, the destruction of the World Trade Center eventually spurred significant development in the Financial District. Tax incentives were offered and new skyscrapers were built. The One World Trade Center, a 1,776 ft tall structure, opened in 2014. The Fulton Center and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub opened in 2016. The Maharishi Global Financial Capital of New York opened its headquarters in 2007 to attract investors. By 2010, the area had become a residential and commercial neighborhood. It was filled with luxury high-end apartments and upscale retailers. Then, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused massive street flooding. This forced nearly two hundred buildings in the Financial District to convert to residential use.

 

The New York City Financial District has undergone significant changes over time. It has transformed from a bustling business hub into a thriving mixed-residential area. Today, the district is home to over 24,000 residents and boasts some of the city’s tallest buildings.

 

Where is the Financial District in New York?

The Financial District is at Manhattan’s southern tip. It’s surrounded by:

 

  • The West Side Highway to the west
  • Chambers Street and City Hall Park to the north
  • The Brooklyn Bridge to the northeast
  • The East River to the southeast
  • South Ferry and the Battery to the south

 

This hustling neighborhood boasts proximity to New York’s most iconic landmarks and attractions, plus Brooklyn & New Jersey views. These New York City landmarks include:

 

  • The Statue of Liberty
  • Hudson & East River
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Manhattan Bridge
  • Williamsburg Bridge

 

The Best Things to do in the NYC Financial District

View of Wall Street, one of the things to do in the Financial District NYC

The Financial District is a trove of activities and attractions. From:

 

  • Wall Street and the World Trade Center
  • To peaceful Battery Park

 

There are plenty of things to do in the Financial District. If you’re a history enthusiast, don’t miss the chance to visit the Federal Hall National Memorial. It’s where George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States. For a breath-taking view, head to the One World Observatory. Located at the top of the One World Trade Center, it’s the tallest building in America. With its rich history and stunning architecture, the Financial District promises an unforgettable experience.

 

New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street

exterior of the Exchange on Wall St

Visiting the Financial District? You can’t ignore the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street. It’s the heartbeat of the global financial market, a symbol of capitalism and finance. Look up and marvel at the 10-story building at 18 Broad Street. This Neoclassical masterpiece, finished in 1903, is the work of George B. Post. It’s crafted from white Georgia marble.

 

Don’t miss the opportunity to appreciate the historical significance of 23 Wall St. This building, the former House of Morgan, was often referred to as the “precise center” of financial America, as well as even the financial world.

 

The Charging Bull and Fearless Girl: Symbols of Resilience

Charging Bull statue with tourists on Wall St in the Financial District

This is also where you’ll find the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl statues. These iconic sculptures are symbols of the American people’s tenacity and resilience, particularly that of New Yorkers.

 

The Charging Bull is a 3,200 kilogram bronze statue. It was crafted by artist Arturo Di Modica and has become a significant symbol of Wall Street and a popular tourist attraction.

 

Fearless Girl statue on Broad St

The Fearless Girl statue, originally placed in front of the Charging Bull statue, is as a symbol of female empowerment and gender diversity in the workplace. Originally commissioned to advertise an index fund, it was moved to Broad Street and has become a fan favorite, with replica statues found worldwide.

 

Federal Hall National Memorial

George Washington statue in front of Federal Hall on Broad and Wall St

At the intersection of Wall Street and Broad Street, you’ll find the Federal Hall National Memorial. History enthusiasts will appreciate this site as the location of the first U.S. Capitol. It’s also where George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States.

 

No admission fee is required to enter the memorial, which the National Park Service manages.

 

Trinity Church

Historic Trinity Church cemetery

Located at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, you’ll find Trinity Church. This beautiful example of Gothic architecture is a testament to New York’s rich history. Established in 1697, it’s a historic Episcopalian parish.

 

Most notably, it’s the final resting place of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers. Spend a moment to admire the stunning architecture from the outside. Alternatively, step inside to delve into the church’s history and pay respects to those buried in its grounds.

 

Stone Street

Cobblestone streets of Stone Street, one of the most historic streets in the Financial District NYC

Stone Street, a hidden gem in the heart of the Financial District, is a charming, European-style street. Historic buildings line this cobblestone street. Its history dates back to the Dutch colonization of New York.

 

Today, Stone Street is a charming destination filled with restaurants and bars. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, enjoy a drink, and soak up the atmosphere of this historic street.

 

St. Paul’s Chapel

Iconography in St Paul's Chapel in Financial District NYC

St. Paul’s Chapel, built in 1766, is just a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site. It is Manhattan’s oldest surviving church building and is part of the Trinity Church Parish. This historic site is where George Washington prayed following his inauguration as the first President of the United States in 1789. The chapel also played a significant role in the events of September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center towers fell nearby.

 

One World Trade Center

Looking up the island from the Battery towards One World Trade Center

The One World Trade Center is an iconic symbol of America’s resilience and determination. And it dominates the skyline here. As the tallest building in the country, it’s a must-see in the Financial District. Take a moment to marvel at its modern design and engineering prowess. If time permits, visit the One World Observatory at the top. From there, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Manhattan, the Hudson and East Rivers, and the Statue of Liberty.

 

FiDi Museums

National Museum of the American Indian

The Financial District is home to a variety of fascinating museums, each offering a unique glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture. Some of the notable museums in the area include:

 

 

These museums offer a window into diverse facets of New York’s history.

 

The Battery

Ferry to Ellis Island and Liberty Island from the Battery

Nestled at the southern tip of Manhattan, The Battery is a beautiful park offering stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Take a leisurely stroll through the park’s lush green spaces, or relax by the water’s edge and enjoy the breathtaking views of New York Harbor.

 

The Battery is also home to the SeaGlass Carousel. This is a unique ride that features fish instead of the traditional horses. It’s a hit among visitors of all ages for its creative design.

 

South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport on South St

Discover the vibrant South Street Seaport, just a short walk away from the Financial District. It’s a lively waterfront area with an array of shops, restaurants, and attractions. The Brooklyn Bridge and the East River create a stunning backdrop.

 

Don’t miss out on the South Street Seaport Museum.. It tells the captivating story of New York’s transformation into a port city and its subsequent influence on the development of the United States.

 

Battery Park City

Battery Park City, a 92-acre planned community, sits on the southwestern tip of Manhattan. It offers a combination of residential and commercial spaces, along with beautiful parks and waterfront views. Some highlights include the Battery Park City Esplanade, a picturesque walkway with stunning views of the Hudson River. Rockefeller Park and Teardrop Park are green spaces for relaxation and play. Whether you’re looking for a waterfront stroll, a picnic in the park, or just soaking in the beautiful views, Battery Park City is a great stop. And don’t miss nearby attractions like the Irish Hunger Memorial and the impressive Brookfield Place shopping center.

 

Bowling Green

As the oldest park in New York City, Bowling Green holds a special place in the city’s history. It’s a must-visit spot for history enthusiasts. It’s another peaceful retreat from the Financial District’s hustle and bustle. Located at the southern end of Broadway, this charming park was the city’s first public park. And since 1733, it’s served as a peaceful oasis amid the city’s chaos. It’s the perfect spot for people-watching.

 

Elevated Acre

Looking for a hidden gem in the Financial District? Your search ends at the Elevated Acre. This one-acre park, nestled between two towers, offers a tranquil escape. It boasts ample seating, an open lawn, and a winding path through a variety of shrubs and trees. It’s an ideal spot to unwind and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding buildings and the East River.

 

Woolworth Building

Woolworth Building

Don’t miss out on the chance to admire the iconic Woolworth Building. This masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture stands as a testament to the city’s rich history. Once, it held the title of the tallest building in the world. The renowned architect Cass Gilbert designed the Woolworth Building, which was completed in 1913.

 

Although the lobby is not open to the public, the building’s stunning exterior is worth a visit. Architecture enthusiasts and anyone interested in the history of New York City will find it particularly appealing.

 

City Hall

City Hall Park

City Hall, the oldest in America still serving its original governmental functions, is worth exploring. This historic building, completed in 1812, was designed by Joseph François Mangin and John McComb Jr. It is considered a prime example of architectural achievement of its period. The New York City Council takes pride in the preservation of this important landmark.

 

Shopping in the Financial District of NYC

Shopping in the Financial District offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern design. You’ll find everything from the futuristic Oculus shopping center to the high-end Brookfield Place. Whether you’re looking for popular retailers or luxury brands, you’ll find it here. Westfield World Trade Center is home to a wide range of stores. For a more luxurious experience, visit Brookfield Place. This shopping destination features brands such as Gucci, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton.

 

The Oculus

When shopping in the Financial District, a visit to The Oculus is a must. This futuristic structure, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, is both a railway station and shopping center. The Oculus’ stunning architecture is matched by a diverse range of retail options. You’ll find stores such as:

  • Apple
  • H&M
  • Sephora
  • Victoria’s Secret

 

With these options, you’re sure to find something to suit your tastes. But take a break from shopping to marvel at the impressive design of this one-of-a-kind structure.

 

Brookfield Place

For a more upscale shopping experience, head to Brookfield Place, an elegant shopping center near the Hudson River. Here, you’ll find luxury brands such as Gucci, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton, as well as popular retailers like J.Crew, Sephora, and Zara.

 

After a day of shopping, you might want to unwind at one of the many dining options available at Brookfield Place. Or sit back and enjoy the stunning waterfront views of the Hudson River.

 

Restaurants in the Financial District of NYC

The Financial District boasts a diverse array of dining options, satisfying every palate. Historic taverns stand shoulder to shoulder with award-winning pubs. A few top stops include:

 

Fraunces Tavern

Fraunces Tavern, in the heart of the Financial District, is a historic tavern with a connection to America’s Founding Fathers. Established in 1762 by Samuel Fraunces, this charming eatery has hosted many notable figures, including:

  • George Washington, who bid farewell to his officers here after the Revolutionary War
  • Alexander Hamilton, who frequented the tavern and held meetings here
  • John Adams, who dined at Fraunces Tavern during his presidency

 

Visiting Fraunces Tavern is like stepping back in time and experiencing a piece of American history.

 

Today, visitors can either enjoy a delicious meal in the historic dining rooms or explore the on-site museum.

 

Dead Rabbit

For a unique and modern Irish pub experience, the Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog is your go-to spot. This award-winning pub, founded by Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, is renowned for its lively atmosphere and diverse food and drink menu. In 2016, it was even named the world’s #1 bar.

 

Hotels, Inns, and Places to Stay near the NYC Financial District

After a day of exploring the Financial District, you’ll need a place to unwind. That said, this writer would recommend staying in Midtown Manhattan, a little further up the island, if this is your first visit. Be sure to read our guide to the best places in New York to stay.

 

Directions to the NYC Financial District from Greenwich, CT

Getting to the NYC Financial District from our Greenwich, CT, bed and breakfast is straight forward. The fastest route is by train. The trip from the Greenwich Train Station to Grand Central Station takes roughly 40 minutes, express, an hour via a local train. Once you’re in Grand Central Terminal, hop on the subway southbound. Driving is about an hour, with no traffic.

 

More Attractions Near the Financial District of New York

There’s no shortage of exciting places to explore around the Financial District. Historical sites like Ellis Island and iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty are so close. Don’t miss the breathtaking Brooklyn Bridge! The surrounding area of the Financial District is brimming with New York City attractions to add to your unforgettable visit.

 

Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty

These landmarks, situated in New York Harbor, provide a unique insight into the country’s heritage.

 

For this adventure, you will need to board the Statue Cruises ferry. This is the sole authorized service that takes passengers directly to both Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Plan at least half a day for this trip to ensure you have ample time to explore these historic sites and understand the stories of the millions of immigrants who entered the United States via Ellis Island.

 

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn, NY

Walking across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge is just as memorable an experience. This historic landmark, finished in 1883, connects Manhattan and Brooklyn. As you stroll, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the East River and the surrounding cityscape.

 

The bridge’s entrance is conveniently located in front of City Hall. And the other end drops you where there’s a cluster of free Brooklyn, NY, attractions. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a photography lover, or just someone who enjoys a leisurely walk with a view, the Brooklyn Bridge is a must-visit.

 

Governor’s Island

This tranquil island oasis in the center of New York Harbor was once a military base. Now, it’s a public park. The list of things to do on Governor’s Island includes exploring historic forts, cycling around the island, or enjoying a picnic in one of its parks. The stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline are an added bonus.

 

Take the Governor’s Island Ferry from the Battery Maritime Building. It’s located at 10 South Street, next to the Staten Island Ferry in Lower Manhattan. The ferry ride takes about 7 minutes and offers a unique perspective on the city.

 

Tl;dr

The Financial District of New York City is rich with history, culture, and entertainment. It houses iconic landmarks like the New York Stock Exchange and the One World Trade Center. But it’s not just about the well-known spots. The district also hides gems like the Elevated Acre and Stone Street. This bustling neighborhood has a little bit of everything, just like the Capital of the World.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is considered the Financial District in NYC?

The Financial District, situated in Lower Manhattan, is the oldest developed part of New York. It’s home to significant areas like Wall Street and the World Trade Center. However, it doesn’t officially include Battery Park and Battery Park City.

 

Is Financial District NYC good for tourists?

The Financial District is a fantastic destination for tourists. Compared to bustling areas like the Theater District and Chelsea, it offers a more relaxed atmosphere. Plus, it’s home to numerous must-see attractions, making it a top choice for your NYC itinerary.

 

What street in New York is famous for financial types?

Wall Street, located in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, is renowned for its association with high finance and historic sites. This street stretches from Broadway to South Street, leading to the East River. It has long been the hub for some of the United States’ most significant financial institutions.

 

What are some iconic landmarks in the Financial District?

Iconic landmarks include the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall National Memorial. It’s also where you’ll encounter the One World Trade Center and the famous Charging Bull statue.

 

How can I visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island?

To visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, board the ferry operated by Statue Cruises. It’s worth noting that this is the sole authorized service offering direct transportation to both islands.

 

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