Lower Manhattan is the home of the financial district of Manhattan, located at the southern tip of the island with the Hudson River on the west, the East River on the east, New York Harbor to the south, and Chambers Street on the north. It is one of the two largest business districts in New York City - the other being Midtown Manhattan - and is the historical core of the modern city; a fact reflected in the convoluted street pattern compared to the regular streets and avenues found uptown.
Lower Manhattan is home to some of New York's most famous and evocative landmarks: Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island and Ellis Island in the harbor, both accessed by ferry boat from the financial district.
Located at the southern tip of Manhattan, Lower Manhattan was the site of earliest European settlement in the New York area - the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam. Established in 1625, the settlement became the capital of New Netherland, the colonial Dutch province which controlled much of the coastal area from Massachusetts south to Delaware. In 1664, the British conquered New Netherland and New Amsterdam became "New York".
In the late 18th century, with the American Revolution brewing, New York became a major political center for the colonists. Protests against the Stamp Act led the so-called "Stamp Act Congress" to convene here and sign a Declaration of Rights and Grievances, asserting the concept of "no taxation with representation." British soldiers captured New York and maintained control of the city until the war ended, when George Washington triumphantly returned to Manhattan. He would return again in 1789 to take the oath of office and become the nation's first president, as New York briefly served as the first capital of the United States, where the Bill of Rights was drafted and ratified.
Shortly after the creation of the United States, Lower Manhattan started becoming an economic and financial center for the new nation. In 1792, a group of stock brokers signed the Buttonwood Agreement, which created the New York Stock Exchange, underneath a buttonwood tree at 68 Wall Street. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the corporate culture of the area fueled the construction of many skyscrapers in the district, and as the financial power of New York grew, so did its influence; as evidenced by the 1929 Wall Street Crash, which ushered in the Great Depression.
Through the 1940s and 50s, new economic growth on Manhattan was centered on Midtown. Wishing to concentrate new growth on Lower Manhattan, and coming in at the height of the urban renewal movement, local leaders destroyed most of the old structures to make way for the gleaming office towers of today's Lower Manhattan, not least of which was the World Trade Center, built in the 1970s, which defined the Lower Manhattan landscape until it was destroyed on September 11, 2001. Currently, a new World Trade Center and a memorial to the September 11 victims is being constructed on the site.
Lower Manhattan has an irregular street grid system, a throwback to the original Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam. This street pattern seems even more irregular when compared to the neat grid system seen just about everywhere else in Manhattan. Major avenues here run in a north-south direction - West Street along the Hudson River, Church Street and Broadway through the middle of the district, and Water Street and South Street (the former running beneath the elevated FDR Drive) along the East River. With the exception of these roads, almost every street in the financial district is very narrow and often clogged with traffic during the day. The blocks immediately surrounding the intersection of Wall and Broad Streets (where the stock exchange and Federal Hall are located) are blocked off to automobiles; only pedestrians may enter.
Most of the city's subway lines have stops in lower Manhattan, making it one of the best ways to get to the district. There are few express stations in the area, so most trains will stop at every station in this neighborhood. Though many city bus lines serve the area, traffic is often slow on the winding streets.
The 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 lines connect the district to Uptown and the Bronx, with the 2, 3 and 4 also running to Brooklyn under the East River (along with the 5 during rush hours). The A and C lines run Uptown and east out to Brooklyn, with the A continuing to the JFK Airport area. The E runs alongside the A and C lines to Midtown, where it breaks off and runs out to Queens. The R heads north to Midtown, Queens, and east to Brooklyn. Finally, the J and Z lines head northeast to Brooklyn and Queens, but be aware that Broad Street and the J/Z section of Fulton Street are closed on weekends.
Additionally, PATH subway trains connect the World Trade Center site to New Jersey. There are two lines: one to Newark and one to Hoboken, both with stops in Jersey City. The PATH costs $1.75 per ride and accept MetroCard for payment.
The Staten Island Ferry  connects the South Ferry terminal, located at the southern tip of Manhattan, to the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. The ferry is absolutely free and is popular for tourists since the route offers excellent views of Lower Manhattan and the State of Liberty. The ferry runs 24 hours a day, usually running at 30 minute intervals, with more running during rush hours and fewer running at very late hours.
NY Waterway  operates ferry services from the World Financial Center ferry terminal and the Pier 11/Wall St. ferry terminal to several points in New Jersey along the Hudson River, including in Hoboken and Weehawken. Fares vary by route.
New York Water Taxi  operates ferry services from World Financial Center, Battery Park, Pier 11/Wall St. and the South Street Seaport to points in Midtown, Brooklyn, Queens, Yonkers, and Breezy Point. Their boats are painted to look like taxis and fares vary by route.
- Wall Street. The historic heart of the Financial District and the home of the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street is a byword for American big business and stock trading (most New York financial firms are no longer headquartered on the street itself, but housed nearby in new offices). A narrow street running downhill from Broadway to the East River, Wall Street was named for the wall that was built here in 1652 to keep Manhattan's indigenous peoples out of the growing Dutch settlement. The wall was demolished by the British in 1699. By the late 18th century, traders and speculators would gather under a buttonwood tree at the foot of Wall Street to trade informally - this was the origin of the New York Stock Exchange that was established in 1817.
- New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), 18 Broad St (at Wall St), . An historic site, not least because of the Black Thursday crash of the Exchange on 24 October 1929 and the subsequent sell-off panic which started on Black Tuesday, 29 October, precipitating the worldwide Great Depression of the early 1930s. The present Exchange building opened in 1903, recognized from the first as an example of masterful architecture, with the six massive Corinthian columns across its Broad Street facade imparting a feeling of substance and stability and, to many, seeming the very embodiment of America’s growth and prosperity. The building has been closed to the public since 9/11.
- 23 Wall Street, (at Broad St). Located across from the Stock Exchange is this imposing office building which was constructed in 1914 and served as the headquarters of JP Morgan. The Wall Street Bombing of September 16, 1920 damaged the building, with shrapnel blasting several holes in the limestone facade. The holes are still there for any to see.
- Trump Building, 40 Wall St. A very impressive skyscraper which was completed in 1930 and surpassed the height of the nearby Woolworth Building, making it the tallest building in the world until the Chrysler Building was completed just a month later (which in turn lost that title to the Empire State Building less than a year later). The building was purchased by Donald Trump in 1995, hence its current name.
- Federal Hall, 26 Wall St (opposite the NYSE), ☎ +1 212 825-6990, . M-F 9AM-5PM (free guided tours M-F at 10AM, 11AM, 1PM, 2PM and 3PM). On this site on April 30, 1789, George Washington stood on a balcony overlooking Wall Street and was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. The old building on the site had been used as New York's city hall and had hosted some of the first congregations of the colonies in the lead-up to the American Revolution, such as the Stamp Act Congress. After the revolution the building, now Federal Hall, briefly housed Congress, the Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices before the national capital moved to Philadelphia. The current building dates to 1842 and was used first as a Customs House, then later the US Sub-Treasury (millions of dollars of gold and silver were kept in the basement vaults). Today the building is maintained by the National Park Service as a museum dedicated to the history of the site. Guided tours of the building are available, or you can just walk in and look up at the rotunda and view some of the artifacts, such as the bible Washington used in his inauguration ceremony. Free.
- Trinity Church, (Broadway at Wall St), ☎ +1 212 602-0800, . M-F 7AM-6PM, Sa 8AM-4PM, Su 7AM-4PM. An Episcopalian (Anglican) church and parish was first established on this site in 1697 under charter by King William III. The present Neo-Gothic Revival church building (the third incarnation) dates from 1846 and remains a significant landmark within Downtown. The original burial ground at Trinity Church includes the graves and memorials of many historic figures, including Alexander Hamilton, William Bradford, Robert Fulton, and Albert Gallatin. Free.
- Bowling Green, (at Broadway and Morris). A small park at the foot of Broadway which is the oldest public park in the city and is the site of the Charging Bull sculpture created after the 1987 stock market crash. Bowling Green is also the origin point for the Broadway ticker-tape parades; if you walk up Broadway, you can view plaques in the sidewalk honoring the people or events celebrated in these parades.
- Battery Park. At the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park is a waterfront green space, named for the artillery batteries which were installed here to protect the settlement of New York when it was under Dutch, then British rule. In the lead-up to the War of 1812, Castle Clinton  was constructed as a fort to protect the city, and is now operated as a small museum. There are several memorials in the park, including The Sphere, a public art piece originally housed on the World Trade Center site which survived the events of September 11 and was moved to Battery Park. Ferries departing to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (see below) depart from here. Free.
- World Trade Center site. Not referred to by New Yorkers as "Ground Zero", so be careful not to cause offense. The site is inaccessible to the public, owing to the construction of the new World Trade Center buildings and a September 11 memorial.
- St Paul's Chapel, 209 Broadway (between Fulton and Vesey Sts), ☎ +1 212 233-4164, . Built in 1776, the chapel is an active part of the Parish of Trinity Church and is Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use. It is the only remaining colonial church in New York City and was George Washington's place of worship after he was inaugurated as president, but more recently the chapel became known for surviving the events of 9/11 without even a broken window - despite being located across the street from the World Trade Center - and its role as a place of refuge for the WTC recovery workers in the days that followed. Free.
- Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway (between Barclay St and Park Pl). One of the oldest and most famous of New York's skyscrapers (dubbed the "Cathedral of Commerce"), the neo-Gothic Woolworth Building was completed in 1913 and was the world's tallest building until 1930. The building has a beautiful ornate lobby, but it has been closed to the public since September 11.
- City Hall. On a triangular city block between Broadway, Park Row and Chambers Street sits City Hall, a gorgeous gleaming white building completed in 1812 and still serves as the home of certain city government functions, such as the office of the mayor. The building itself is fenced off and only accessible by tour, but there is a lovely park surrounding the building, with plenty of shady trees and a pleasant fountain just to the south of the building. Just north of City Hall and on the same block is the Tweed Courthouse, a gorgeous government structure and the legacy of Tammany Hall boss William M. Tweed, who used the courthouse project to embezzle large sums of money from the city budget and was convicted in an courtroom in this building.
- Manhattan Municipal Building, 1 Centre St (at Chambers St). With New York City growing and not enough space in the City Hall building, this 40-story structure was built to meet the space demands of the city government. Completed in 1915, it is a massive and very grand building with the gilded statue of a woman standing atop the building's spire.
- Brooklyn Bridge, . From its intersection with Park Row (just east of City Hall) you can walk (takes about 20-30 minutes each way), bike, or drive across the historic and iconic bridge to Brooklyn. The view from the bridge is quite lovely, with excellent views of Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn and good views of Midtown and the New York Harbor in the distance. No toll.
- African Burial Ground National Monument, 290 Broadway, 1st floor (north of City Hall), ☎ +1 212 637-2019 (fax: +1 212 227-2026), . Visitor Center: M-F 9AM-5PM except Federal holidays; Memorial: Daily 9AM-5PM except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. For most of the 18th century, Africans in New York City were buried in a graveyard outside the city. The graveyard was eventually forgotten and was rediscovered in 1991. This museum and memorial site commemorate the estimated 15,000 Africans that were interred on the site of the memorial. Note that the museum is located inside of a Federal building so airport-style security should be expected. Free.
- Museum of American Finance, 48 Wall Street, ☎ +1 212 908-4110 (fax: +1 212 908-4601), . Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM. A small museum dedicated to finance and the markets, with exhibits that change periodically. $8 adults, $5 students/seniors, children 6 and under free.
- Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Pl, ☎ +1 646 437-4200, . Su-Tu,Th 10AM-5:45PM, W 10AM-8PM, F 10AM-5PM. A memorial to the Holocaust. $12 adults, $10 seniors, $7 students, children 12 and under free; free admission W 4-8PM.
- National Museum of the American Indian, One Bowling Green (adjacent to the northeast corner of Battery Park), ☎ +1 212 514-3700, . F-W 10AM–5PM, Th 10AM-8PM. Housed in the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, this Smithsonian museum is the New York branch of the National Museum of the American Indian (the other branches are in Washington, D.C. and Maryland). Free.
- New York City Police Museum, 100 Old Slip, ☎ +1 212 480-3100, . M-Sa 10AM-5PM. A museum dedicated to the history of the NYPD. $7 adults, $5 seniors/students/children, children under 2 free.
- Skyscraper Museum, 39 Battery Pl, ☎ +1 212 968-1961, . W-Su 12-6PM. Exhibits on the history of highrise and skyscraper construction. $5 adults, $2.50 students/seniors.
- South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton St, ☎ +1 212 748-8600, . Jan-Mar: F-M 10AM-5PM, Ships noon-4PM; Apr-Dec: Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. A museum with exhibits on the historic Seaport area and a collection of ships at the South Street Seaport on the East River open for tours. $10 adults, $8 students/seniors, $5 children, children under 5 free.
New York Harbor
Lower Manhattan is the primary gateway to three islands in New York Harbor: Liberty Island (home to the Statue of Liberty), Ellis Island, and Governors Island. Another ferry runs to Liberty and Ellis Islands from Liberty Park in Jersey City, but most tourists use the Manhattan ferries. These are some of the most popular destinations in New York City and access is available only by ferry boat.
If you're visiting New York on a budget or you don't want to wait for hours to get near the Statue of Liberty, you may want to consider taking the Staten Island Ferry , which is absolutely free and offers excellent views of the Statue of Liberty from its route to Staten Island from the South Ferry Terminal, just east of Battery Park.
- Governors Island, ferries depart from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street, ☎ +1 212 825-3045, . Open seasonally; W-Th guided tours take place at 10AM and 1PM, F ferries leave every hour 10AM-3PM, Sa-Su ferries leave every hour 10AM-5PM, from Brooklyn ferries leave every 20 minutes. Governors Island has a long military history, home to headquarters and military posts of the United States Army from 1794 until 1966, then a complex for the U.S. Coast Guard before becoming a historic district open to tours. Free.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Ferries depart from Battery Park (New York) or Liberty State Park (New Jersey), ☎ +1 866 782 8834 (within USA) or +1 212 269 5755 (international), . 8:30AM-5:15PM (hours adjusted seasonally); if you leave after 2PM, you will only be able to visit either Liberty Island or Ellis Island. Ferry ride $12 adults, $10 seniors (62+), $5 children (4-12). Crown Access $3 extra. Audio Tours $6 extra.
Ticket Options - Visitors to Liberty Island and Ellis Island have four Reserve Ticket options:
- 1) Reserve Ticket – includes ferry transportation; provides access to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, including the grounds of Liberty Island and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The Reserve Ticket allows you to save time when waiting for the ferry; instead of waiting on the longer line, the Reserve Ticket allows you to go through the priority entrance at the security check-in. The Reserve Ticket does not allow entry into the Statue of Liberty, the Statue of Liberty Museum (located in the pedestal), the Pedestal Observation Deck, or the Crown. The cost of the Reserve Ticket is the same as the Ferry ride; there is no additional cost for the Reserve Ticket.
- 2) Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket (does not include Crown Access) – includes ferry transportation; in addition to the access that is provided with the Reserve Ticket, this ticket also allows access to go inside the pedestal; see the interior structure of the statue; take in sweeping 360-degree views from the Pedestal Observation Deck; and access Fort Wood (the 11-point star-shaped structure the statue stands upon). The Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket does not include access to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty. This ticket has "Monument" printed on it (for Monument Access). Prior to entering the pedestal, there is a secondary security screening. The cost of the Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket is the same as the Ferry ride; there is no additional cost for the Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket. Tickets should be purchased days, weeks, or months in advance, depending on the time of year.
- 3) Reserve with Crown Ticket (includes Pedestal/Museum Access) – includes ferry transportation; in addition to the access that is provided with the Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket, this ticket also allows access up to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty. Visitors to the crown will be required to go through a secondary security screening. The Reserve with Crown Ticket costs an additional $3. Reserve with Crown Tickets are very limited and should be obtained three or four months or longer (up to one year) in advance.
- 4) Flex Ticket is valid for a one-time use within a three day period. The Flex Ticket includes ferry transportation and provides the same access that is provided with the Reserve Ticket; the Flex Ticket does not allow entry into the Pedestal, Museum, or Crown. The Flex Ticket requires a specific start date for purchase. With the Flex Ticket you can arrive at any time of the day, but early arrival is suggested for the security check-in queue. The Flex Ticket does not allow priority entry at the security check-in (Reserved Ticket entrance). Pedestal/Museum Access or Crown Access may not be ordered online with the Flex Ticket.
Tickets can also be purchased through concierges at major hotels and at the ticketing windows in the Castle Clinton National Monument inside Battery Park, New York, or inside the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey. Monument Access (for the Pedestal/Museum/Crown) may not be available if you purchase your tickets on the day of your visit.
Note: There is a separate Reserved Ticket entrance (at the security check-in) for the Reserve Ticket, Reserve with Pedestal/Museum Ticket, and Reserve with Crown Ticket. If you purchase one of these reserved tickets, then you can take advantage of this priority entry (Reserve Ticket entrance) and you could easily save an hour of waiting during busy times. The Flex Ticket does not allow priority entry at the Reserve Ticket entrance.
Statue Cruises is the only means of access to Liberty and Ellis Islands; the ferries depart from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan or from Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Be prepared for airport like security screening with similar restrictions (no food or open liquids, no knives, etc.) before boarding the boat. One ticket is good for sailings to both islands and return to starting point. Tickets are limited in number and can be obtained on the day from the ferry company or in advance by calling the ticket office on the phone number above or online . If leaving from Manhattan, you may need to arrive at Battery Park 2 hours before your timed tour to allow for security screening and ferry travel, so it is best to arrive at Battery Park early in the morning.
The Statue of Liberty, or Liberty Enlightening the World, a gift from the people of France to celebrate the centennial of the United States, stands upon Liberty Island and is one of the most famous symbols of the nation. Upon departing the ferry, you can visit the Visitor Information Station, which has a schedule of the day's events. Visitors can also meet at the Liberty Island Flagpole (behind the statue) for a ranger-led tour of the island. If you have a reserved Pedestal/Museum ticket -- "Monument" must be printed on your ferry ticket, which requires a second security check -- you can visit the monument lobby, museum (where you'll see various exhibits on the statue, the old torch, and the famous "New Colossus" sonnet), and outside to the promenade and Fort Wood (the 11-point star-shaped structure the statue stands upon). The Pedestal/Museum Ticket includes a trip in the elevator to the pedestal observation deck (not up into the statue itself); visitors can look upward to view the interior of the statue (there are four marked viewing locations); and the pedestal observation deck provides a 360-degree view, which includes the New York City skyline. There are 24 steps between the top of the elevator and the pedestal observation deck; visitors must be able to walk up (and down) these steps to access the pedestal observation deck. Security checks are rigorous, so travel as light as possible. Backpacks and other large bags are not permitted on the tours but can be stored in lockers for a fee. On busy days there may be long waits. Signs on the island state that you should obtain Reserve Pedestal/Museum ("Monument Access") tickets 1 week in advance to guarantee that you will be able to enter the pedestal. Visitors with the Reserve with Crown ticket are allowed to climb up a circular staircase from the base of the statue to the crown, but tickets are very limited and should be reserved three or four months (up to one year) in advance . Visitors will enter the crown in groups of 10 under the direct supervision of a Park Service employee, with no more than 3 groups per hour. Children must be at least 4-feet tall, and must be able to walk up and down the stairs by themselves, and all ticket holders must show a photo ID to match the name on their tickets.
Ellis Island  is served by the same ferry as the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island was home to the nation's primary federal immigration station, with over 12 million immigrant steamship passengers passing through from its opening in 1892 to its closing in 1954. Today, over 40 percent of America's population can trace their ancestry through Ellis Island. The island is home to the American Family Immigration History Center , which contains manifests of 25 million immigrants, passengers, and crew members who entered New York Harbor.
- Century 21, 22 Cortlandt St (right across Church St from the World Trade Center site), ☎ +1 212 227-9092, . M-W 7:45AM-9PM, Th-F 9:45AM-9:30PM, Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-8PM. Sells remaindered designer clothes, often at deep discounts, and is popular with tourists and locals, alike. The store can be so crowded around Christmastime that it's a hellish experience, but it's civilized most other times of the year, especially during the day on weekdays. Filene's Basement (whose largest store in Manhattan is at Union Square) is a bit cheaper on average, but Century 21 has a wider and deeper selection.
- J&R Music and Computer World, 23 Park Row, ☎ +1 212 238-9000, . M-Sa 9AM-7:30PM, Su 10:30AM-6:30PM. Occupies an entire block of stores right across the street from City Hall Park and sells the widest selection of computers, computer accessories, and various other electronic products (including blank CDs and batteries) in New York, at the lowest prices short of ordering through the internet. It is also probably the second best source of digital cameras and accessories in New York (B&H near Penn Station is generally considered by New Yorkers to be the best source). Well worth visiting if you need something right away or prefer to look at products before purchasing them. Generous return policies, too.
- World Financial Center, (just west of the World Trade Center site), ☎ +1 212 417-7000, . Shopping, dining, events and the Winter Garden all open to the public.
Broad Street has several chain eateries.
- Pan Latin, 400 Chambers St. M-F 8AM-9:30PM, Sa-Su 8:30AM-9:30PM. Serves decent emapanadas, quesadillas, and other Latin American specialties. Also has the hard-to-find Jarritos sodas. $6-$14.
- Terry's, 41 River Terrace, ☎ +1 212 267-2816. Deli Popular with local students. Budget.
- Portobello Pizzeria Restaurant, 83 Murray St. M-F 10AM-9PM, Sa 10AM-8PM. Decent pizza, garlic knots, and rolls, but unfortunately, the once very-friendly service has taken a serious downturn. $5 a slice.
- Eurostars Wall Street, 129 Front St (at Pine St), ☎ +1 212 742-0003 (email@example.com, fax: +1 212 742-0124), . A small boutique luxury hotel a block north of Wall Street. $230-$400.
- Gild Hall, A Thompson Hotel, 15 Gold St (at Platt St), ☎ +1 212 232-7700 (infoGildHall@thompsonhotels.com, fax: +1 212 425-0330), . $250-$300.
- Hotel Reserve, 51 Nassau St, ☎ +1 212 227-3007, . A boutique hotel two blocks from Wall Street, one block from the New York Stock Exchange, and across the street from the Federal Reserve Bank. Consists of 113 rooms with free wireless internet, contains a fitness center, and is pet friendly. $150-$250.
- Millenium Hilton, 55 Church St (across the street from the WTC site), ☎ +1 212 693-2001 (fax: +1 212 571-2316), . Business class with finely decorated rooms and great views. $300-$400.
- New York Marriott Downtown, 85 West St, ☎ +1 212 385-4900 (fax: +1 212 227-8136), . Good views and nice rooms. $300-$450.