The Financial District (FiDi) today is a bit of a hybrid neighborhood, as the residential component continues to grow in an area that has been historically dominated by the financial and insurance industries. The residential experiment, which began more than two decades ago, continues to evolve in an area with a large concentration of older, large office buildings. Developers have taken to these aged buildings and have re-positioned them as residential properties. In turn, the public spaces, services and retail establishments needed for a thriving residential neighborhood have followed making this an important destination for city residents.
Since 2000, the residential population of the Financial District has nearly tripled in size from about 23,000 residents to more than 60,000 inhabitants. Many of the residential pioneers to FiDi were people attracted to the lower rents in the neighborhood, particularly the post-collegiate crowd. While the millennials still maintain a large footprint here, there are plenty of families that now consider the Wall Street area home.
Many of those that live in the Financial District walk to work. If you reside here and need to commute elsewhere, the transportation from here is about as good as it gets. Express trains can take you to Midtown, either east or west, in twenty minutes. Brooklyn is but a single subway stop away. There are also ferries across to Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
Stone Street, a cobblestone street tucked in between Broad Street and Hanover Square, provides a spirited block of indoor and outdoor dining with a smorgasbord of restaurants and bars.
The East River Waterfront Esplanade is a delightful bike/walk trail that starts at the northern end of the stunning Governors Island Ferry Terminal and runs along the East River up to Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side. Enjoy a delightful afternoon on Pier 15 while taking in views across the East River and the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.
One World Trade Center, Westfield Mall. Eataly, up on the second floor is a favorite spot for locals shopping for rich Italian fare. Keep on walking toward the back and enjoy a wonderful dining experience looking out upon the WTC grounds.
Elevated One Acre Park at 55 Water Street. Take the street level escalator up to this glorious public park hidden from sight behind this massive tower. Beautifully landscaped with multiple sitting areas, this one-of-a-kind public space offers a private moment for a soulful lunch.
Manatta, the creation of restaurateur Danny Meyer, sits atop 28 Liberty Street (aka Chase Plaza by us old timers) on the 60th Floor. Views to die for are included in the three-course prix-fixe dining experience. Some are calling these vistas the “Best in Manhattan.”
What You Might See
Tourists, lots of tourists. Be prepared to give directions. The Charging Bull at the base of Broadway, the World Trade Center Memorial and Wall Street/Federal Hall are throbbing with foreign visitors and selfie sticks.
Movie Crews. Street closings on weekends for movie and television shoots is typical here. Low traffic, great architecture and narrow streets make for a perfect setting. Kate & Leopold was set on Stone Street. Primary Colors was shot in front of One Wall Street. Inside Man, starring Denzel Washington, was filmed inside and outside 20 Exchange Place. Multiple movies from the Batman series have also used these streets to capture Gotham.
Barricades. Security around Wall Street and the surrounding streets can be tough on cars. But at the same time, these blockades create pedestrian malls with no traffic at all. Great for walking with your kids or dogs.
Steakhouses. Red meat aplenty for people who like that sort of thing. We love the old bank vault at the lower level of The Capital Grill at 120 Broadway.
What You Don’t Know
The Great Fire of New York in 1835 devastated this area of Manhattan, destroying 17 blocks and more than 600 buildings, extending from Beaver Street and Hanover Square to Maiden Lane.
The country’s first Business District was formed by the merchants on Stone Street when the city government refused a request to pave the street. The BID was formed, money was collected and the street was paved in stone.
The Canyon of Heroes starts at the base of Broadway at Bowling Green station and extends north on Broadway up to City Hall Park. From Charles Lindbergh’s historic transatlantic flight to the last two Giant Super Bowl victories, the parade route has motored right through the Financial District. To coincide with the theme, the city has laid down markers on the downtown sidewalks along Broadway to designate the parade honorees. To behold these markers is a historic look at local and world events. My personal favorite: The 1969 World Champion Mets.
What's In The Future
Continued residential development. One of the most exciting projects currently on the books is a 566-unit development of 1 Wall Street at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway into a luxury condominium by the Macklowe Organization.
Two mouth-watering developments currently under construction are the glimmering skinner tower taking shape at 45 Broad Street and the sculptured glass skyscraper at 125 Greenwich Street. The two modern-age icons will rise 64 and 88 stories respectively and will forever alter the skyline of lower Manhattan.
The arrival of Whole Foods at the retail level of One Wall Street. Once the doors open to this praiseworthy food emporium, we know that the neighborhood has arrived.
What We Love
On the weekends, the Financial District is one quiet place. Vehicular traffic is low and the weekday warriors are long gone.
Proximity to the two of the city’s finest public spaces, the East River Esplanade and the Hudson River Esplanade. Biking or rollerblading for miles along the Hudson is always a thrill.
A day trip to Governor’s Island. Walk out your door, take a 10-minute ferry ride and stroll/climb about the 172-acre park while taking in breathtaking views of lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Bridge. The Hills at the island offers an experience like none other In New York City. Truly an adventure to enjoy time and time again.
Blue Bar at India House. Gaze at this historic brownstone building on the edge of Hanover Square Park before entering. Walk up the steps and take a quick left turn into this delightfully cozy spot.
Imagination Playground. A wonderful spot at Burling Slip that allows children to play and interact with their environment. Designed by architect David Rockwell, this gated playground is well maintained and offers young children sand, water and large foam blocks with which they can play.