Oh. One of those small but heavily loaded words that somehow manage to carry more conviction and meaning than words nine times its size. Oh. Disappointment. Oh. Lame Oh. That’s all? Oh. That’s not the answer I was looking for. Oh. I’m not really paying attention to this story you’re telling but I’m making non-committal words so you think I am.
I hear it constantly and it tends to start out the same way…
OMG you live in New York?! Yes, I do.
That’s all SO exciting! Yes it is.
Do you live in the City? Yep, right in Manhattan.
I bet you love it so much! Absolutely.
So which area are you in? The Financial District.
Then just like that the light in their eyes dim, their mouths form that oval shape and out pops a resounding oh. Like I just said I live in New Jersey or something.
Sorry to disappoint – but no I don’t have a penthouse on Park Ave, I can’t afford to live in the West Village, and am too non-college student to reside in the East. I’m not trendy enough to live in Meatpacking and my non-hipster ways even reject me from Brooklyn. So yes I live in the Financial District and you know what? I FREAKING LOVE IT.
After 4 years of having to justify my choice of residency to any and everyone, I thought it was time to let the world know why living in the Financial District is the best thing ever.
1. The Living Space and Price
My apartment has hallways. Yes, you heard me right – real live legitimate hallways. Not one, but two of them. The kind you can pace up and down while mumbling “uh huh…..uh huh…..uh huh” into your phone as your mother drones on and on about how you’re not contributing enough to your 401k.
When the conversation turns 180 degrees towards your love life (or rather noticeable lack of one), you can pace right on in to the full open country kitchen to grab another pint of Ben & Jerry’s before sighing in resignation as you plop down onto one of the couches (notice the plural tense) in your exceptionally spacious living room to explain (once again) why your younger siblings will give her 7 grandchild before you even consider giving her 1.
After finally getting rid of mom after a long and exasperating conversation, you thank the heavens your rent is only $1050 (for those not living in NYC, this is a freaking STEAL) a month so you can afford to stay in the City and as far from home as possible. There’s even someone here who will do all your laundry, dry cleaning, and tailoring. Not to mention the full service building comes complete with a 24hr doorman, lounge, elevator, gym, and rooftop access. Did I also mention the unusually large bedrooms and 2-door closets?
With more luxury high-rise buildings cropping up in this rapidly developing area every day, there’s plenty to choose from.
2. The Tip of Manhattan Walking Path
Growing up on the Gulf Coast of Florida has spoiled me to the point where I get all twitchy if I’m landlocked for a lengthy amount of time. The hectic concrete-interlaced-with-steel jungle that is Manhattan may technically classify itself an island, but one can easily fall prey to the worker bee lifestyle and let weeks go by without seeing so much as a hint of coastline. As for me, I can remedy this malady by simply exiting my building, hanging a right, and continuing down Water St all the way around the tip of what was once the old settlement of New Amsterdam – the foundation of what would someday become New York City.
With an overabundance of activities along this pathway, even tourists now have a reason to seek accommodation alongside the waterfront. The budget backpacker can take the free Staten Island Ferry across the way for a closer view of the Statue of Liberty while those with deeper pockets have the option of a ferry tour departing from Battery Park.
This route is one of the preeminent places in the city for jogging, walking, or biking around. You’ll pass several locals while ambling through Battery Park with its exquisite gardens, promenades, monuments, and memorials. The area is in continual development and Pier A is the latest project added to its list of accomplishments. This freshly restored 129 year old building is the last surviving historic pier in the city and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The previously abandoned structure now houses bars, restaurants, and private event spaces with sweeping views of the harbor.
Further around the bend on the west side of the path lies North Cove. The summer months are particularly nice for superyacht spotting as the boats drift in and out while their guests visit the city. The World Trade Center site is only a few minutes walk away and over near the cove’s Irish Hunger Memorial lies 2 of the best kept secrets in Manhattan (the blogger in me wants to tell you but the resident in me really shouldn’t). First up is the relatively hidden 2 story movie theater which is huge, clean, and almost always empty even during blockbuster openings like The Hunger Games. The second is the city’s least crowded Shake Shack where the longest I’ve ever waited is about 8 minutes.
3. Free, Cheap, and Lesser-Known Museums
In high school, I was that dorky kid who groaned when the school bell cut off my history teacher’s riveting lecture causing me to beg my friends to hang back after school while I stopped by her classroom to ask what happened next (how I survived all 4 years without one swirlie, I’ll never know). Add in an Art History and Classical Archaeology degree and it’s really no wonder museum hopping is the number one touristy activity I partake in on the reg. While I occasionally find myself waiting in obnoxious lines wrapped around the Met or the MoMA, I much prefer the below quiet and crowd-free museums in the Financial District:
Fraunces Tavern – offers a range of exhibits celebrating Colonial and Revolutionary New York history for only $7. After exploring its museum, have brunch downstairs at the Tavern where the likes of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton once stood or visit the lively bar scene on a Friday night with the rest of the afterwork crowd.
The National Museum of the American Indian – just like the name states, this free institution houses a superb collection of Native American artifacts and hosts daily guided tours. My favorite museum secret is its rotunda dome tucked away inside with magnificent historical murals depicting early American pioneers.
Museum of American Finance – strives to preserve and educate visitors on American financial and economic history and also focuses on current day financial issues. Admission for adults is only $8.
4. The Bars and Restaurants on Stone Street
Rumored to be the oldest street in New York City, this cobblestone pathway is decked out with picnic tables, umbrellas, and locals. Several restaurants and bars stack up on either side and prepare delicious food, mix indecently strong cocktails, and pour refreshingly cold beer.
Every day is a block party during fall, spring and summer and this is the place to be for all major international holidays including Cinco de Mayo, St Patrick’s Day, and the 4th of July. Even the winter season remains lively with the afterwork horde as the party shifts indoors.
Stone Street is also home to a few of my ‘go tos’ when visitors ask for a truly local experience. Adrienne’s Pizza Bar is a must for dinner or wine but at the top of the list sits Ulysses Folk House. A bold statement to be sure, but this is my all time favorite bar in Manhattan. At the end of almost every crazy, funny story about my weekend, my friends ask “Wait, where did this happen?”. My reply is always “Ulysses”.
A complete breakdown of the bars and restaurants on Stone Street can be found by clicking here.
5. Summers at the Seaport
If there is one area of the Financial District that has fully taken advantage of the rebuilding opportunity caused by Hurricane Sandy, it’s the South Street Seaport. They are in the midst of completely revitalizing the space and if this past summer was any indication of what to expect in the future, then I can’t wait until May rolls around. With the addition of free summer concerts, bi-weekly outdoor film screenings, free outdoor workout classes, and Smorgasbord, my friends and I spent more time at the Seaport in those 3 months than we had in the past 4 years.
6. The 30 Minute or Less Commute
With the Fulton Street stop running the A, C, 2, 3, 4, 5, J, Z, and R trains, it’s pretty much 30 minutes or less door to door anywhere below 86th St. I’ve nailed my commute down to exactly 26 minutes to my office on the Upper East Side. The other nice perk is that the above lines run both East and West so it’s easy to reach either side of Manhattan – not to mention the bus stop makes travel to the often pain-in-the-ass-to-get-to Lower East Side much more manageable. You could even reverse direction and reach certain areas of Brooklyn in that same time frame.
Not to be left behind during this period of the Financial District’s evolvement, the Fulton Street stop is even getting a makeover ala Grand Central style with a more contemporary twist. The brand new Fulton Center officially opened its doors last month and it not only better connects the plethora of subway lines, but once fully completed, it will host designer stores and food halls.
Let us not also forget the PATH station which is only about a 5 minute walk from the Fulton Center and services transportation to and from New Jersey. They’ve stepped up their game as well and later this year will unveil the latest transportation hub designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava of Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences fame.
7. Neverending Taxi Lines
Getting a cab in New York City is a double-edged sword. Sure it’s easy to hail one when you don’t really need it. Like on those nice fall days when the only plans you have are no plans at all and you’re free to stroll about the city while deciding on which park to read your recently acquired novel in. There’s plenty of time to flag down a taxi and you know if you miss one, there’s always another about to barrel around the corner at any minute.
Yet somehow when your boss decides to host a black-tie work event in the middle of February and you find yourself freezing to death on a street corner with your post-holiday body stuffed into a too tight dress accessorized with stilettos even a pornstar would deem too high to wear – all the cabs magically disappear and you find yourself on the 5 train miserably thinking FML.
Lucky for me, I just walk out of my apartment door and cross the street to the neverending congregation of yellow cabs. Doesn’t matter what time it is. 4am. 9am. 1pm. 8pm. They’re always there. I have no clue why but I’m certainly not going to question it.
8. A Legit Grocery Store
No I’m not talking about an expensive Dean and DeLuca or an overpriced Whole Foods or a small mom and pop neighborhood ‘grocery store’. I’m talking about a place that not only has a hot bar, delicatessen, and sushi bar, but also comes fully equipped with 2 floors worth of food items, weekly produce specials, and a frozen food section. 55 Fulton Market has it all and as it’s only a 3 minute walk away, I no longer have to make the trek up to Trader Joe’s only to whack people on the subway with my paper bags full of cheap and heavy groceries on the way back home.
9. Peaceful and Uncrowded Weekends
Weekends (and weeknights) in the Financial District are pure bliss. Well, aside from the noise radiating from construction sites but let’s be real – there’s no avoiding that anywhere in the City.
Unless you’re near the World Trade Center or Century 21, most of the streets completely empty out. Saturday mornings are calm and quiet and I feel as if I live in a small sleepy town rather than in the city that never sleeps. Taking long weekend walks is also the perfect time for celebrity spotting as the uncrowded streets and alleyways provide ideal conditions for film shooting. Not a week goes by that I don’t see some movie or TV show being shot.
10. The Rooftop Views
Did I forget to mention that most buildings in the area have fully accessible rooftops with BBQ grills, lounge chairs, and sweeping views?
Yep. I love living in the Financial District. So the next time someone asks me “Why on earth do you live all the way down there?”. I’ll just send them this article.
Do you love where you live? Any cool local neighborhood spots? Tell me below!
Why Suffer From FOMO When You Don’t Have To?
Taking on the classic “round-the-world” route, the next Travel Dispatch journey kicks off Nov 15 as I travel east to west, looping the globe over a period of 12 months with $25,000. Now’s your chance to get in on it from the very beginning!