As the historic heart of New York City, the Financial District is perhaps better known for its world-famous landmarks and commercial district than as a residential neighborhood — but that’s beginning to change. Residential life is coming to the glass-and-granite canyons south of Chambers Street. The last decade has seen a surge of interest in the neighborhood, with onetime commercial buildings being converted into residences and new towers popping up at a regular pace. It turns out that the quaint blocks of the former New Amsterdam can be a charming place to dwell at all hours — and the waterfronts and parks of Lower Manhattan now provide Financial District residents with amenities that will make many uptown partisans jealous.
Housing stock: Because so much of the housing in the Financial District is either new construction or older office buildings converted into residences, condominiums pervade here. The main decision buyers face is whether to seek a home in newer buildings — whose floor plans tend to offer more light, space, and modern features — or older, converted structures, which compensate for more compact spaces with lower prices. Do you prefer an ornate granite facade, or a sheen of modern glass? Depending on buyers’ needs and desires, prices in the Financial District can range from surprisingly low for Manhattan to nearly stratospheric.
Transportation: One advantage to living in a center of trade and commerce is that getting around is terrifically convenient. The area south of Chambers Street provides pretty much all the transit connectivity [http://web.mta.info/nyct/maps/subwaymap.pdf] one could hope for, with stations on the A-C-E-, 1-2-3, N-Q-R-W, J-Z, and 4-5-6 lines. The new transit hub at Fulton Street allows access to many of these; New Jersey PATH trains leave out of the brand-new World Trade Center station; and nearby ferries take passengers over water to Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and New Jersey.
Schools: The Financial District offers a surprising array of excellent school options, both private and public. City-run campuses like PS 397 Spruce Street School and PS 89 Liberty School both earn a score of 10 out of 10 on GreatSchools. And even neighborhood public high schools, like Milliennium High School [http://www.millenniumhs.org/pages/millenniumhs], get very high marks from parents and students. Private schools abound in the Financial District, including the K-12 Léman Manhattan Preparatory School.
Parks: The Financial District’s largest green space is Battery Park, [http://www.thebattery.org/] a historic waterfront expanse that gives residents a welcome respite from the neighborhood’s tall buildings and close streets. With a carousel, walking and biking paths, numerous lawns, and sweeping views of New York Harbor, Battery Park is a lovely place to stroll, sit, or picnic. A few smaller parks — like Imagination Playground [https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/imagination-playground] and Zucotti Park https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuccotti_Park — dot the neighborhood, and City Hall Park, [https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/city-hall-park] with fountains, sculptures, and of course, public buildings, anchors the northern end of the Financial District.
Restaurants and Bars: Are there good places to eat and drink the Financial District of the largest city in the country? Yes, and not just for steak-and-martini power lunches. Among the food halls of old New Amsterdam are beloved outposts of the Luke’s Lobster, Les Halles, and Mooncake Foods empires, saving you several subway rides uptown. There are restaurants specializing in Shanghainese dumplings and Italian charcuterie; [http://www.daclaudionyc.com/] there are red-hot brunch destinations; [https://www.yelp.com/biz/view-of-the-world-terrace-club-new-york]; there are high-end Irish bars. [https://www.deadrabbitnyc.com/] If you live in the FiDi, you’ll be free to do as little (or as much) cooking as you like.
Shopping: Again, the Financial District claims more shopping options than the casual browser might expect — and the scene has only been growing in recent years. http://ny.racked.com/2014/4/30/7603281/tracking-the-financial-districts-booming-retail-scene While it’s not quite Midtown or Lower Broadway, the Financial District boasts locations of major retail chains like J. Crew, [https://stores.jcrew.com/en/brookfield-place] Saks, [https://brookfieldplaceny.com/directory/saks-fifth-avenue] Tiffany, [http://www.tiffany.com/jewelry-stores/new-york-wall-street] Apple, [http://www.apple.com/retail/worldtradecenter/] Gap, [http://www.gap.com/products/store-locations.jsp] Zara, [http://ny.racked.com/2015/11/13/9728754/zara-financial-district-nyc-now-open] and Urban Outfitters, [http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/stores/en/financial-district] among many others. Residents of this superurban ‘hood also do just fine when it comes to the daily essentials, with nearby grocery retailers like Zeytuna, [http://www.zeytuna.com/] Jubilee Market Place, [http://www.jubileemarketplace.net/] and Whole Foods. (There’s a Whole Foods just south of Chambers Street in Tribeca, [https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/tribeca] and another coming to One Wall Street [https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160728/financial-district/whole-foods-on-its-way-wall-street] soon.)
Landmarks and Culture: There’s a surprising vibrancy to the streets of the Financial District, even on the weekends. The neighborhood is home to a number of museums, including the National Museum of the American Indian [http://www.nmai.si.edu/] and the South Street Seaport Museum. [https://southstreetseaportmuseum.org/] Of course, financial landmarks are everywhere here, from the Charging Bull sculpture [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charging_Bull] to the New York Stock Exchange. [https://www.nyse.com/index] Other interesting destinations in the Financial District include the World Trade Center [https://www.wtc.com/] and National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, [https://www.911memorial.org/museum] Trinity Church, [https://www.trinitywallstreet.org/] and Castle Clinton National Monument. [https://www.nps.gov/cacl/index.htm] Almost no matter what your interests, there’s plenty to do in the neighborhood — and with so many easy transit options, activities in greater Manhattan or Brooklyn are an easy ride away.