New Yorkers are famous for many things, not least of which is a sense of irony. One more instance of that can be found in the fact that Wall Street, by which most people really mean the New York Stock Exchange, isn’t located on the street called Wall at all. It’s actually at 20 Broad Street.
But, it’s a minor quibble that most Manhattanites would rightly dismiss with a characteristic wave of the hand.
Though the stock exchange tour has been closed since 9/11, the building is still a sight to behold and the streets of the surrounding area could form a study in the history of architecture. George Washington was inaugurated in Federal Hall and important events have been occurring here ever since.
Whether viewing the stately, turn-of-the-century NYSE building or the ultra-modern American Express the area carved out by the Dutch in 1653 is full of amazing sights. The actual Wall Street did get its name from running alongside a wooden palisade erected then to protect the town from wild Indians. Now, along the short, random-angled streets is a cornucopia of people and buildings of all shapes and sizes.
And don’t forget to take a photo near the now-famous bull sculpture, placed in 1989. Near the Cunard Building just down from Wall Street, this bronze behemoth is larger than your average bear. Some contend it has eclipsed its chief rival, a large red metal sculpture that no one could identify, including its creator.
The area houses not only large financial institutions and other corporate giants, but an array of pubs and restaurants to rival any of its uptown competitors. Just be careful what you say about your company there. You never know who’ll be at the next table and the only thing that moves faster than trades here is the rumor mill.
Not far away (south) are the departure points for the Staten Island Ferry or the tours of the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.
But, if those don’t suit your fancy travel east a few blocks to the South Street Seaport along the East River at Fulton. There you’ll find a hundred shops, dozens of restaurants, and several outdoor venues including a maritime museum. Ships docked there hark back to the days when the wind in sails was the main power source. You’ll be surprised at how small the captain’s cabin is!
Take a few minutes to just stand and look at the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge, the world’s first wire-suspension type and an artistic marvel. From time to time, you’ll even see private boats and yachts making their way up the river to docks connected to private apartments further uptown.
19th Century history combines with the most modern art and engineering here in one of New York’s most popular tourist areas. The newly developing World Trade Center site, where the Freedom Tower is under construction, deserves a few moments of quiet contemplation.
Just be prepared to bump elbows with the crowds in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening when the thousands of busy, temporary inhabitants flood the streets.