Away from the dense crowds of Times Square and the wandering tourists of Central Park and the Upper East Side, the Financial District offers a chance to explore the quieter, more residential side of Manhattan. Within a few blocks, you can enjoy both world-class attractions and local dining. See for yourself why the Financial District is so much more than just Wall Street.
Located on the lower tip of Manhattan, jutting out in a triangular shape, where the Hudson and East Rivers converge, the Financial District is where New York City originated, in 1624. To one side is Brooklyn, to the other, Jersey City. Views of Ellis Island and Governors Island grace the green spaces. Home to the New York Stock Exchange, of course, but also One World Trade Center, Goldman Sachs World Headquarters and others, this international financial institution hub attracts a heavy flow of businesspeople during the week and a select group of tourists during the weekend.
While previously seen as an all-work, no-play, no-live neighborhood, the Financial District now has more than 60,000 permanent residents. People seem to be catching on that the area is a wonderful place not only to work, but also to stay and enjoy the green spaces, shopping, attractions and restaurants that have popped up over the years. Likewise, more hotels have opened, catering to both business travelers and leisure travelers seeking a less-hectic side of New York.
Here, it’s easy for a traveler to wake up on a weekend, go to the hotel room window and see an empty side street, rather than an already-packed sidewalk. A leisurely morning stroll to the nearest coffee shop is possible, as is a quick walk over to the more visited areas of the neighborhood, the few spots for which tourists do make the special trip down from Midtown. Escaping the hordes is just as easy as joining them. Walk a few blocks from any major attraction and you will once again find yourself with a quieter, more private version of Manhattan.
Q&A Residential Hotel (70 Pine St.) is located within a primarily residential building, occupying several of the lower floors. To truly feel like a local in the Financial District, stay here, where you can easily pretend you’re living in a modern, luxurious New York apartment, not staying at a hotel. The entrance is on a tucked-away side street, and guests enter in the same door as residents, before checking in at a somewhat hidden lobby and taking the elevator up to one of the few hotel floors. The available rooms range from studio spaces to two-bedroom suites. Each offers a full kitchen with stainless steel appliances and everything you would need to cook just as you would at home. Furnishings include plenty of seating and both dining and living spaces. Storage space is abundant, as well.
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 (using the free WiFi!) 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.