The bustling streets thrum on weekdays with intense traffic and the excitement of big deals, trades, and decisions being made in the vast skyscrapers and financial institutions of Wall Street. Yet beyond this buzz, the Financial District remains among the best neighborhoods to learn about both New York’s and America’s origins. Colonial-era landmarks include the Federal Hall National Memorial, on the site of the first U.S. capitol and where George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. Also here are the South Street Seaport’s 19th-century brick facades and pedestrian-only Stone Street, one of the city's first thoroughfares. Bounded by the East and Hudson Rivers to the east and west, respectively, and by Chambers Street and Battery Park to the north and south, the Financial District is best appreciated by getting lost in its streets. In recent years, there has been an influx of publishing and media companies, along with a growing residential population and an array of new hotels and developments—all lending to the area’s transformation into a well-rounded, day-or-night destination
There’s plenty of culture to explore here, and plenty of heritage from distant and more recent history. Be sure to allow ample time to absorb the powerful World Trade Center memorial site, where two 1-acre pools represent the footprints of the fallen Twin Towers.
The southern tip of Manhattan is the key point of departure for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tours, which run year-round. This experience should never be dismissed as too touristy. Unlike any other, the excursion is a reminder that New York is a city of immigrants and survivors. The seasonal Governors Island ferry leaves from the Battery Maritime Building (as well as from Pier 6 in Brooklyn).