4.20.2015

Strolling The Battery and Financial District: Views and Spectacles of the New and Old City

This walk encompasses the World Trade Center site, Brookfield Place (World Financial Center), the Battery Esplanade, Pier A, and Stone Street. The 2.25 mile walk begins at the E train World Trade Center station and ends at the renovated Fulton Transit Center on Broadway.

A long time ago I stopped updating this website on a regular basis. I had assumed a full-time job in the city and then moved to the upper reaches of Manhattan. With a 9-to-5 job, I found it challenging to keep up with the city, especially anywhere in Lower Manhattan and beyond. Furthermore, the long snowy winter fairly wrecked several of my weekend walking plans. Drudging through the cold commutes took a toll on my energy levels, and my thoughts frequently turned toward the domestic comforts of home and the pleasures of hibernation. 



Still, I longed for my old meandering ways, in the way an aging Broadway star might long for the stage.  

Now with the beginning of a new season, it may be time to come out of hibernation. New York City in the spring/summer feels like a different place than the autumn/winter one, and with a nod to Rip Van Winkle, it feels like waking up in a new city. It's nice to toss the winter boots back into the closet.


Curious about a handful of new city developments, both architectural and gastronomic, and longing to revisit old places, my version of comfort food, I set out on a couple of excursions downtown. I have combined them here into one convenient walk, a two-mile unhurried stroll from the World Trade Center site down to the Battery and then up through the Financial District. I have made room for resting times. We are just finding our feet again, so we can take this slow.



The walk begins in the sprawling area of the World Trade Center, a complex site of public and private spaces in various stages of completion. While the PATH station, and the soaring wings of the Santiago Calatrava-designed structure (top picture), is still very much in progress, One World Trade Center now actually houses office workers - Conde Nast employees, among others - coming and going through a side door. 



To escape the bustling outdoor tourist and construction scene, head over to the Winter Garden Atrium inside the World Financial Center (pictures above), rebranded now as Brookfield Place.  A French food emporium, Le District, provides plenty of savory and sweet selections for takeout or to stay. If you go this week, you can still enjoy Heather Nicol's splendid sound and sculpture installation, Soft Spin (through April 24), partially shown here.


Exit the center on the west and stroll down the Battery Esplanade to the Battery, an exceptional walk of gardens, permanent installations, and views of New York Harbor. Make a day of it, and include Pier A Harbor House (above), a cleanly refurbished structure that seemed long in its refurbishing but now happily open and sporting a vast bar.



As New York City obsessively updates every inch of shoreline, I like to visit the old streets slightly inland. One such is Stone Street, if you can find it (and that's half the fun), well known among Wall Street traders for its after-hours drinking. Earlier in the day or on weekends, these streets may be more easily seen. An echo of the world of colonial settlers, it's possible here to imagine New York at a time when things were just starting to get hot.



After wandering around the old streets of the Financial District, find your way to the new Fulton Transit Center. Outfitted with many overly blinding LED screens at its swirling core and generally busy in design, the center looks less like a train station than a teleportation device. Still, whatever the contemporary spectacle of the train station or the nearby PATH station in progress, we're still boarding the same old clunky trains, subject to their delays and signal problems.



At any rate, never mind the train. It's time to find a pair of comfortable shoes, shut the apartment door, and go out walking.


The map:





Images by Walking Off the Big Apple. Follow me, ttynes, on Instagram.