Wedged in the middle of one the most powerful places in the world, Zuccotti Park is a cozy, cool escape. The tiny park, stuck between Broadway and Trinity place, lets you clear your head before getting back to the Wall Street grind. Scattered with sculptures (namely Mark di Suvero’s "Joie de Vivre”), benches and a bountiful of trees, the spot makes for the perfect place for breakfast and lunch. The park is not without long history. Most recently, it was the main camp for the Occupy Wall Street protesters in 2011. A landmark sculpture by John Seward Johnson II of a businessman eating lunch out of his briefcase was a prominent and memorable image in the aftermath of 9/11. The park itself was heavily damaged during the 9-11 attacks and was fully restored in 2006. Despite the recent tribulations, the spot is one of the most beautiful places during the holiday season.
Your newest NYC neighborhood is littered with historic landmarks. Easily the most recognizable is the Federal Hall National Memorial. The original Federal Hall was built in 1700 to serve first as City Hall, only to become the first capitol building of the United States. This was the site of George Washington’s inauguration, and it was the spot where the United State Bill of Rights was introduced to the First Congress. The building was demolished in 1812 to make way for the Federal Hall National Memorial in 1842. Sandwiched in between high-rises, the new building is currently ran and operated by the National Park Service. In pop culture, the building was the movie location for the famed The Dark Knight Rises - Tom Hardy’s Bane famously gave a speech on its steps
In the city that never sleeps, there are plenty of gourmet grocery markets and delis to feed your mid-day cravings. But things are a bit different at Bocadillo. Instead of your ordinary self-served sandwiches, like a turkey on rye, here you'll discover grub with a Spanish twist. They serve poplar sandwiches such as the chorizo (roasted tomatoes, mahon, guindilla peppers and angula) or the jamon serrano (piquillo peppers, mahon and basil pesto). If you are looking for something lighter, try the fresh gazpacho soup. There’s even a small tapas menu that features Albondigas (lamb meatballs) and bacon-wrapped dates. Oh, just, really, yum!
Of course, now that you're living in the middle of the financial pulse - you can’t deny yourself the thrill of a walk through Wall Street. Easily the most economically powerful grounds in the world, Wall Street is home to the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. The area remains rich in history and architecture. The buildings are rooted into the days of Gilded Age and have a flair of art deco. The highlights along this storied street include 14 Wall Street (Bankers Trust Company Building), 55 Wall Street (former world headquarters of Citicorp), and 60 Wall Street (US Headquarters of Deutsche Bank, the last remaining major investment bank on Wall Street).
The perfect start to your morning begins with a breakfast at d Elici. The tiny deli offers tasty, and more importantly, quick bites for the business types on the run. The healthy wrap is the most popular choice as it mixes turkey, bacon, cheese and spinach to perfection, and without sogginess.
The initial sign of the spring begins with a trip to one of the city-wide farmers markets. Greenmarket at Bowling Green is possibly one of the city's best. It’s not the largest of the farmers markets, but it's biggest selling point is the sight of the Statue of Liberty is the background. The quality of vendors is unmatched. Among the best are The Orchards of Concklin, bringing to New Yorkers some of freshest apples to be found in the city. There’s also Meredith’s Bakery, which has some of the best half-moon (black & white) cookies.
Everyday life in Financial District has a unique dimension. Scared by the events of 2001, it took more than 15 years for the neighborhood to get back to full stability and popularity. The most prominent sign of a new era is the opening of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The state-of-the-art transportation port became fully functional in 2016, although the construction of the hub’s Oculus exterior was on full display for years before that. The Oculus has become a symbol of strength as much as the architectural marvel and just simply walking into it or into a slew of high-end retail and dining options, is surprisingly enjoyable.
Of course with all the history in the FiDi, there’s also a lot of room for reflection and remembrance. That need brings you to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, possibly the most moving museum experience in the country. The memorial itself is two waterfalls at the footprints of the twin towers with inscribed names of the nearly 3,000 victims. The memorial was commemorated on September 11th, 2011 and the museum was opened in May 2014. Constructed at the basement level of the former twin towers, visitors are able to see the final artifacts that remain from the towers, including the final steel beam to be recovered from Ground Zero. There’s also the original Slurry Wall of the “Bathtub” retaining wall and the Last Column. On display are the damaged fire trucks and more than 10,000 artifacts (from personal to major) that make up the history of 9/11. In the museum's collections are also some 500 hours of video. The most engaging are more than 2,000 oral histories of the deceased that were provided by friends and families, including the final phone calls of those that perished. The experience is emotional, but deigned to sustain hope in times of darkness.
Breezes at the renovated South Street Seaport are what makes this Greek-Revival port one of the most visited areas of the city. Superstorm Sandy nearly trampled the area. The most damage was sustained by the Seaport Mall at Pier 17, which reopened after nearly five years. There remains an abundance of shops and restaurants on the mainland to make up for anything missing on Pier 17. Still, the beauty and history remain intact. The port houses five historical boats, permanently docked, accessible for viewing and exploration: US Lightship LV-87, Lettie G. Howard, Pioneer, W.O. Decker, and Wavertree. There’s also the South Street Seaport Museum, which chronicles the porting history of the area as well as the history of the Fulton Fish Market (which operated from 1822 to 2005). There’s also an abundance of architectural joy like Schermerhorn Row (a collection of formerly mercantile buildings) and the cobble stone roads. The best part of South Street Seaport are the most impressive views of the Brooklyn Bridge.
The bars in the FiDi are as charming and classy as they come. The 4,000-square-foot Clinton Hall for example provides you with space to stretch your legs and a beer list that will knock you of your feet. The rustic beer hall has state-of-the-art technology that helps precisely calibrate the 20 craft beers on tap. The beer selection is undoubtedly the best in the area. The menu changes weekly and it mixes flavors from Germany and Belgium. But there are also plenty of domestic craft beers to ingest.
The restaurant scene in the FiDi took a major hit after 9/11. But that has changed in recent years thanks to the legendary Les Halles Bistro and Delmonico's. Tonight you have a seat at one of the most famed steakhouses in the city. Originating in 1837, the steakhouse features the best aged cuts you will find around, like the 28 day dry-aged 42 ounce Tomahawk or the 45-day dry-aged bone-in 24-ounce rib eye. There are other gems to be had, like Billy’s Bacon & Octopus, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Cheek & Bone (beef cheek and bone marrow) or the American Wagyu Tartare.
The final stop in your FiDi journey is The Dead Rabbit. The cocktail Irish bar is considered the best bar in the world for its mixture of stylish and scrumptious cocktails like Bachelor Pad (Scottish gin, pale cream sherry, pink grapefruit, poppy seed, lemon and egg whites). But the key with The Dead Rabbit (named after the area's Irish gang from the early 1900s, which was made famous in the film Gangs of New York) is their unparalleled commitment to service. The bar is broken into three themed floors. The main level is for casual drinking and eating and its called “The Taproom." The second floor, "The Parlor” is the spot's cocktail lounge. The third floor, dubbed “The Occasional” is reserved for the many private events. Cheers!