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Financial District

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One of the oldest western settlements of New York, this southernmost neighborhood of Manhattan is now on the cutting edge of all that is contemporary in New York. Its narrow cobblestone streets betray its former identity of New Amsterdam, the 17th century Dutch settlement that eventually paved the way for some of the most iconic skyscrapers in the world. As its name implies, the Financial District is heart of the city’s financial industry, and on every weekday the area is swarmed with busy workers at the core of the city’s economy. Until relatively recently, the Financial District would empty out just after sunset every day when its workers returned home to other areas of the city, but in the last decade, things have changed dramatically due to tremendous investment in the development of residential real estate. Some of the most successful and well-known residential projects in the city have sprung up here, including Downtown by Starck at 15 Broad Street and the Greenwich Club at 88 Greenwich Street. Predictably, this spate of development coincided with a dramatic increase in full-time residents, along with an influx of high-end restaurants, bars, amenities, and nightlife. Now the bustling Financial District finds itself in the unique position of being one of the city’s most convenient neighborhoods in the city and amazingly, one of its most affordable.


Landscape

The Financial District is bordered by City Hall Park to the north, West Street to the west, and the East River to the southeast. The Financial District’s high-rise architecture is characterized by a grandiloquent Gilded Age style with Art Deco influences, and the largely residential southern edge of the island boasts an undeniably authentic old-world charm, featuring some of the oldest low-rise structures in the city. New to the mixture are many recent residential developments, including the William Beaver House and the iconic New York by Frank Gehry at 8 Spruce Street, the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere. The development of the former WTC site promises to bring yet another economic influx to this colorful and exciting neighborhood as it continues to gain momentum as one of the top residential neighborhoods in the city. Conveniently, nearly all north-south trains pass through the Financial District, and its residents have the entire city at their fingertips through the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, C, E, J, N, R, and Z lines.


History

Roughly overlapping the original Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam dating back to the early 1600s, the Financial District is steeped in earliest history of the United States and contains some of the city’s oldest and most charming cobblestone passages into the lives of New Yorkers past. At its geographic heart at Wall and Nassau Streets sits Federal Hall National Memorial, the site of the first US Capitol and George Washington’s inauguration as the first President of the United States, as well as the location of the passing of the Bill of Rights. In the late 1700s, traders and speculators would gather to trade securities under a famed buttonwood tree at the foot of Wall Street, and in 1792, the key players in this trading system signed the Buttonwood Agreement, which eventually led to the founding of the New York Stock Exchange in 1817. The New York Stock Exchange building now in use at Broad and Wall Streets exemplifies the delightful bombast of Neoclassical architecture at its finest, and established Wall Street as an icon for all things financial in America. Just a block away resides the landmark Trinity Church, built in 1846 and considered a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture. Originally granted its charter from King William III in 1697, Trinity Church is still an active Episcopal church and such notable American historical figures as Alexander Hamilton, John Jacob Astor, and Captain James Lawrence are buried in its cemetery. The South Street Seaport, once a bustling hub for all imaginable maritime trades, now features the largest concentration of restored early 19th century commercial buildings in New York and some of the oldest architecture in downtown Manhattan.