As a child, I vaguely remember driving through New York City with my parents. We did not stop. I recall the skyscrapers, but nothing else.
Looking back at Manhattan from the Disney Magic
When we decided to take a Disney cruise to Bermuda, sailing out of New York City excited me. I really knew very little about the city except what I learned from TV and movies: bodies float in the East River (Seinfeld), subway rats are enormous (Good Luck Charlie), and Wall Street is a horrible, greed filled place (Wall Street,…). Hollywood does not always paint accurate pictures, though. So, I looked forward to seeing for myself.
"Red Cube" by Isamu Nagochi on Broadway
Working full time, left me a tight schedule. We had hoped to stay near Times Square and Central Park, but my wife found a wonderful, less costly hotel in the Financial District of Manhattan. With just a day to roam, I chose to stick close by.
70 Pine Street, home of our hotel
Our first introduction to New York City came during our Uber ride from LaGuardia to our hotel. The Manhattan skyline reaches up to the clouds; not just a hand full of buildings, but for miles and miles. Our hotel, Q & A Hotel, is located at 70 Pine Street in a 67 story structure, just a block from Wall Street.
Staring up at One World Trade Center
We had heard how rude New Yorkers could be and how dirty everything is. Our interactions were all positive, though. From the airport food court to the hotel and wandering the streets, people were friendly and helpful. At least LaGuardia, our hotel, and the New York City Financial District were all clean, too.
Touring the New York City Financial District
"Fearless Girl" statue
I mapped out a nice 7 mile run that took in every site that I wanted to see including crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. A cool, light rain fell, but it did not dampen the experience. I ran along both the East River (It was still dark, but I didn’t see any bodies), Battery Park, the Hudson, and from site to site.
Par of the World Trade Center Plaza
Early Saturday morning in Manhattan is quiet. I had the streets almost completely to myself. I passed a few other runners, dog walkers, and friendly police officers. Running across the Brooklyn Bridge, then turning back provided a magnificent view of the Manhattan skyline. Unfortunately, my GoPro camera malfunctioned and I could not take any photos!
"Figure Balancing on Dog" near Battery Park
The World Trade Center complex was roped off at this early hour. I quite enjoyed the Hudson River Greenway, Battery Park, and finishing up Broadway and Wall Street.
I returned with my son later and we retraced portions.
New York Stock Exchange
We wandered along Wall Street past Trump Tower, the New York Stock Exchange, and Federal Hall. I did not know that George Washington was inaugurated president there.
We walked along Broadway by Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Cathedral on our way to City Hall and the Woolworth Building.
World Trade Center
World Trade Center
Next, we headed to the World Trade Center Plaza. This was our most anticipated and the most dramatic part of our walk. It was now completely open.
When the attack on the World Trade Center happened on 9/11/2001, I was sitting on a couch in a condo in Sandestin, Florida feeding my then 4 month old son a bottle while I watched TV. I watched the tragic events unfold while clinging to him. I couldn’t help but think back as I watched him peer into the 9/11 Memorial pools.
Inside Westfield One World Trade Center shopping plaza
To me, the whole setting is bold, beautiful and amazing. One World Trade Center towers defiantly overhead. The Westfield World Trade Center shopping center swoops elegantly like a bird in front of the plaza. The 9/11 Memorial pools, with the names of the victims inscribed on the edges, provides a serene tribute and a perfect setting to reflect.
Battery Park and the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
No visit to lower Manhattan would be compete without gazing out at the Statue of Liberty.” Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” We are a nation of immigrants.
Flowers in Battery Park
Battery Park itself pleasantly surprised us. I did not know that such a beautiful area of flowers and trees marked the tip of Manhattan.
World War II Memorial in Battery Park
The World War II Memorial gave pause to think, too. I found several names from Kentucky inscribed in the stone.
Charging Girl and Fearless Girl
As we walked back along Bowling Green to our hotel, I hoped to get good photos of the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl statues. It was late morning now though and both were teeming with tourists (like us!).
Final Impressions of New York City Financial District
Federal Hall where George Washington was inaugurated president.
I had never really contemplated the history of Manhattan. From the Dutch settlers through the founding of the United States, the Industrial Revolution, and up till today, this small parcel of land has played an important role.
Trump Tower in the rain.
Everything is so compact. From our hotel, I could walk 1/3 mile to the Brooklyn Bridge, 1/3 mile to Battery Park, 1/3 mile to City Hall, and 1/2 mile to the 9/11 Memorial. Again, our interactions with New Yorkers were all positive. The New York City Financial District felt safe, too. I left completely impressed and thankful to have visited.
When we return, I hope to explore Times Square and Central Park. There is so much more to see! The New York City Financial District was a great place to start, though.