A day in the Financial District

Head downtown for historical sights, green spaces, alfresco boozing and more.

  • Photograph: Courtesy Blue Spoon Coffee

    Blue Spoon Coffee

    Blue Spoon Coffee

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    "Sol LeWitt: Structures, 1965--2006"

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Gehry Building

  • Trinity Church

  • Wall Street

  • Photograph: Courtesy Museum of American Finance

    Museum of American Finance

  • Photograph: Courtesy Cowgirl Sea-Horse

    Cowgirl Sea-Horse

    Cowgirl Sea-Horse

Photograph: Courtesy Blue Spoon Coffee

Blue Spoon Coffee

Blue Spoon Coffee


It's the epicenter of Manhattan's early history, but this downtown neighborhood also offers plenty of modern-day amusements. Start your day at Blue Spoon Coffee Company (76 Chambers St between Broadway and Church St, 212-619-7230), and pick up a cappuccino ($3.50) made with Chicago's Intelligentsia coffee, and a chocolate-almond croissant ($2.95) to go. Eat your meal in City Hall Park (Vesey to Chambers Sts between Broadway and Park Row), where "Sol LeWitt: Structures, 1965--2006" is on view through Dec 3. If you enter the park from Broadway near Park Place, you'll see Tower (Columbus), whose concrete steps echo the shape of the landmark Woolworth Building's tower across the street.


Walk past the fountain toward Park Row and peer up at the undulating metal curves of New York by Frank Gehry (8 Spruce St at Beekman St). The waves of the glass-and-stainless-steel skyscraper were modeled after draped fabric. Continue south on Broadway, taking a moment to step into the courtyard of Trinity Church (Broadway at Wall St, trinitywallstreet.org), whose graveyard is the final resting place for notable New Yorkers, including founding father Alexander Hamilton. Before moving on, pause at the bronze sculpture in front of the building: It was cast from the stump and roots of a sycamore that stood in front of St. Paul's Chapel (a few blocks away) for more than 100 years, and protected the church from falling debris on 9/11.


Stop at Zaitzeff (72 Nassau St at John St, zaitzeff.com) for a juicy burger and fries. The casual spot's top seller is a standard quarter-pound sirloin ($8.75), but if you smother it with sharp cheddar cheese ($1.25 extra) and swap regular fries with their sweet-potato counterparts ($5), the classic meal is anything but ordinary.


The economy may be a mess, but you'd be remiss to visit the area without some sort of nod to its monetary roots. At the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (33 Liberty St between Nassau and William Sts, newyorkfed.org), you can enjoy a free 45-minute tour (Mon--Fri 11:15am, noon, 1:15, 2:30, 3:15, 4pm), on which you'll see a vault stocked with 7,000 tons of gold. After ogling the repository, stop at the Museum of American Finance (48 Wall St at William St, moaf.org). There's a lot to see, but don't miss the touch-screen computer display that shows advanced security features in newer dollar bills.


Follow William Street south to the British Garden at Hanover Square (Hanover Sq between Pearl and Hanover Sts, britishgarden.org), a verdant plaza lined with curved stone benches. The green space was added to the public area in 2005 as a memorial for the 67 British citizens who were killed on 9/11, and to symbolize the friendship between the United Kingdom and the United States.


Stroll along the East River and treat yourself to dinner at Cowgirl Sea-Horse (259 Front St at Dover St, cowgirlseahorse.com), an offshoot of West Village spot Cowgirl. The country vibe of the original spot remains—the decor includes wagon-wheel lamps—but the restaurant honors its location with seafood dishes like blackened-fish tacos topped with coleslaw and jalapeo tartar sauce ($9). Wash them down with a frozen or on-the-rocks margarita ($9--$12).


Wrap up your night at the revamped Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club (89 South St between Beekman and John Sts, beekmanbeergarden.com), which is open daily until 3am. Sip on a refreshing Crisp lager from Brooklyn locals Sixpoint ($7) and play some pool, foosball or Ping-Pong. The space is strewn with couches and picnic tables, so you can sit back, kick off your shoes and wiggle your toes in the sand while savoring a stunning view of the Brooklyn Bridge

Why I love the Financial District

Tom Henthorne
English professor, Pace University
"I like the quasi--Middle Eastern food carts on Broadway or Nassau Street—[you get] heaps of rice with seasoned chicken and two sauces. [But] I never pay attention to the names."

Betsy Aldredge
PR manager,
Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
"My favorite restaurant is Inatteso Pizzabar Casano (28 West St between Battery and 2nd Pls, inattesopizzabar.com). The pizza is delicious, especially the Pizza Della Nonna ($17). [And] try the lemon tart or the flourless chocolate cake."

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