1 to South Ferry

The South Ferry station is finally open. Take the 1 there for pirate lore, cheap brews and beauteous chocolates.

Photographs: Dave Sanders

When you take the train to the new South Ferry terminal, which—fingers crossed—should’ve opened earlier this week, you can do something radical: ride in the last car. But the full-length platform is just one of the station’s many lures: The MTA’s Arts for Transit program also commissioned a site-specific installation that includes a mosaic map of Manhattan and glass walls with silhouettes of trees. If ever there was a time for a subway tour, this is it.

“[The station] is fabulous, like nothing you’ve seen in New York,” says MTA cleaner Jack. For lunch in the area, Jack likes Water Street Gourmet Deli (12 Water St between Broad and Moore Sts, 212-785-5220). It’s standard bagel-and-wrap fare, though clean display cases with crisp ingredients set it above average. There’s a bright dining area upstairs that overlooks the street; here we find Mike Shore, 51, a paralegal from Nassau County, Long Island, finishing a sandwich. He suggests Battery Park (nycgovparks.org) for a waterfront walk.

In Battery’s center, near a table hawking photographs and a mime dressed as the Statue of Liberty, a dented sculpture, The Sphere, stands as a monument to 9/11. It had been located in the plaza of the World Trade Center as a symbol of world peace and was pulled from the rubble. The globe now looks like a reflection of the real Liberty’s torch across the harbor, holes and scratches where the flames would be.

Down the central path, Castle Clinton (nps.gov/cacl) is busy with tourists queuing for ferry tickets. Park Ranger Kevin Mari, 34, from Carroll Gardens, says Castle Clinton is more than a terminal, and points to the dioramas in a small exhibition to the right of the entrance. “There’s so much history here,” he says. When it was built as a fort for the War of 1812, Castle Clinton was on a small island; Battery Park is actually landfill, “so it’s like you’re walking on water.” Subsequently, the fort became a theater, an immigration center and a popular aquarium from 1896 to 1941. There are free 20-minute tours at 10am, noon and 2pm daily.

Mari has worked in the area for 15 years, and says the White Horse Tavern (25 Bridge St between Broad and Whitehall Sts, 212-668-9046) hosts the go-to happy hour, with “cheap drinks and a working-class vibe.” No joke: Guinness and Bass are $3.50 from 5 to 8pm Monday through Saturday, and a plain cheeseburger is $3. Call it a recession special, but the prices have always been this low, says friendly bartender Tom Quirk, 45, of Middle Village, Queens. With scruffy dark wood walls and burgundy booths, the 93-year-old bar feels homey, especially with Helen, the owner’s Irish wife, fussing over you like a grandmother.

Where to go from here? “We always send people looking for dinner to Fraunces Tavern,” says Quirk, since it’s one of the oldest places around: George Washington gave his farewell address there (54 Pearl St at Broad St, 212-968-1776). Sounds lovely, but we instead follow his suggestion to stroll down Belgian-bricked Stone Street, charmingly misplaced among the skyscrapers, and visit the chocolate store on pretty Hanover Square, a small triangle with benches and planters. It all feels vaguely European, especially when you see the gorgeous selection at Leonidas Belgian Chocolates (3 Hanover Sq between Hanover and William Sts; 212-422-9600, leonidas-chocolate.com). As history would have it, the square was lined with trees and the homes of respectable merchants in the 1700s—as well as that of the pirate Captain Kidd. Wall Streeters, pirates—what’s the difference?

See more Subway tours