Lower Manhattan draws visitors to its narrow, maze-like streets with some of the most iconic landmarks in the world. To get to Wall Street or the Brooklyn Bridge, you have to head down that way. The launching point for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are there, too. And then there’s sleek One World Trade Center with its stunning 360 degree city views, and the peaceful and moving September 11 Memorial & Museum. Spend a day in Lower Manhattan and you’ll only add to the list of things you want to do there. Here are some suggestions on how to pass a pleasant afternoon on the southernmost tip of Manhattan.
You won’t go hungry in Lower Manhattan. Try Hudson Eats, located inside the shopping destination known as Brookﬁeld Place. Hudson Eats offers casual but quality counterservice meals, river views, and something for everyone’s palate. Try bagels and lox at Black Seed Bagel, Cambodian sandwiches at Num Pang, or grab a slice at Skinny Pizza. Want a traditional, New York City deli experience? Get a hearty meal, hot or cold, at Stage Door Deli and ﬁnish it off with a homemade pastry. There’s good Greek food at Pita Press, and Irish fare like Shepherd’s Pie plus a $3.00 Bud Light Draft at O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub.
On a warm summer evening, Stone Street is the hopping downtown place to be. Located in the Financial District, it’s one of the oldest streets in New York, evident by the very old and very uneven cobblestones. Several restaurants and bars line the street with lots of outdoor seating available.
Brookﬁeld Place is a shopping mall where you can load up on luxury items at Gucci, replenish your high-end athletic wardrobe at Lululemon, or indulge in a new Swiss watch at Omega. Interested in scoring deals instead? Century 21 is a popular department store with ﬂoor upon ﬂoor of luggage, sheets, clothing, beauty products, shoes and much more. New Yorkers have been loading up on discounted designer goods at Century 21 for nearly 60 years.
Museum Mile on the Upper West Side draws art lovers in droves, but Lower Manhattan has its share of interesting museums, too. The National Museum of the American Indian displays rotating exhibits of Native American art and artifacts. Other downtown museums include the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Skyscraper Museum, and the offbeat curiosities at Mmuseum, which is dedicated to “object journalism,” and shows items that contribute to the universal cultural history. Past exhibits have displayed ID cards found in the Paciﬁc Ocean, the shoe thrown at George W. Bush’s head, and a package of Gluten Free Communion Wafers. Everything takes place inside an 80 square-foot freight elevator, small enough so that only three visitors can view the exhibits at a time.
Monuments and Sculptures
In 1991, while erecting a new downtown skyscraper, the remains of nearly 15,000 African people were found. It’s been estimated that the remains were placed there between the 1630s and 1795, and the site, now called the African Burial Ground National Monument is the largest known African burial ground in the United States. The skeletal remains belong to a mixture of enslaved and free Africans, and the discovery reignited an inspection into how much slavery contributed to the early construction of New York City.
Two famous guerrilla art installations, Charging Bull and Fearless Girl symbolize two very different eras in U.S. history. In 1989, artist Arturo Di Modica placed the 7,100 pound bull in front of the New York Stock Exchange in the middle of the night, his tribute to the resilience of the nation’s economy. Fearless Girl showed up nearly 30 years later, in much the same fashion, the night before International Women’s Day in 2017. Fearless Girl, a bronze sculpture created by Kristen Visbal, deﬁantly faces Charging Bull, and has become a new symbol of the ﬁght for women’s rights.
Like many neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan, the Seaport District has been in a constant state of development, but it seems to ﬁnally be settling in. Learn about the history of New York when it was an important port city at the South Street Seaport Museum. Tour their collection of historical ships on the museum’s Street of Ships, or even book passage for an afternoon sail from May to October.
There’s plenty of shopping and eating in the Seaport District, and lots of outdoor seating if you want to enjoy a day by the water.