Back in January my best friend came to visit. It was frigid the whole time she was here. There were piles of snow everywhere and the street corners were knee deep in slush. We spent most of our time running from one warm location to the next. After being asked to see tall buildings I took her down to the Financial District. She was quite pleased to finally be seeing what so many people had told her to expect.
It’s a bit of a misconception that New York is filled with only tall buildings. My own apartment is a walk-up no higher than five floors. Aside from the Financial Districts and Midtown Manhattan the city isn’t as towering as people think. Don’t get me wrong there are tall buildings, some pretty damn tall.
What’s great about the Financial District isn’t just the tall buildings, it’s the fact that it’s the oldest part of the city. Long before Manhattan was gridded out, there was this densely populated tip of the island. Streets curve and turn, some even stop. They’re not numbered avenues and streets, but have actual names like “Pearl” and “William,” and infamously “Wall.” The blocks in the area are tighter together, the streets themselves narrower. Even on a hot day the area stays relatively cool, because the sun never reaches the ground. It feels like a maze.
Within these streets is the New York Stock Exchange, Trinity Church, and Federal Hall. Great old buildings everywhere you turn.
Just south of the district is Battery Park. The tip of the island. From which you can see, New Jersey, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. You can watch the water lap back and forth. (The same water that makes the area ten times colder than the rest of the city–especially during a polar vortex).
I don’t think I could live in the Financial District. The height and lack of sunlight is too oppressive, but I can certainly spend hours roaming the streets.