Luminaries and Illuminations: A Holiday Stroll in Lower Manhattan

The light is always fascinating to watch in Lower Manhattan, whether natural or manmade. In the tapering landmass of the southern part of the island, it's possible to watch the sunset over the Hudson River to the west and then turn around and walk a few blocks to catch the amber light of the setting sun on the cityscape of Brooklyn to the east.

This short holiday walk from the World Financial Center to the intersection of Nassau and Fulton Streets is best appreciated in the late afternoon and early evening when New York City transitions into night.

Let's start indoors.

Luminaries, a light display and interactive installation, illuminates the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place this holiday season. (above) Traditionally, luminaries are constructed out of humble paper bags, filled with sand, lined up on sidewalks, and lit with simple candles. These rigid lanterns, an invention of the theatrically-minded Rockwell Group, are suspended on high and artificially illuminated in an array of colors. Visitors are invited to make a wish at one of the lighting stations by selecting a favorite color and watch their wish float up in ripples along the wave of lights. For every wish, Brookfield Place will donate $1 up to $25,000 to the Grammy in the Schools program. The installation continues through January 10, 2016.

For another sort of spectacular, the kind that happens out of doors, walk outside the building on the west and over to the North Cove Marina. (above) In addition, one of the best walks in the city begins (or ends) here, via the Battery Park Esplanade.

Walking east, stop at St. Paul's Chapel. The church sits across the street from the World Trade Center site and the new wing-ed PATH station. In the days following the 911 attacks, St. Paul's became a makeshift community and emergency center. In the churchyard (above), old slate tombstones, with some in fragments, serve as reminders of the city's long history. Do you see the setting sun here? Look at the reflection on the windows of the small wood-framed structure.

The intersection of Nassau Street and Fulton Street provides an opportunity to dwell on the city past and future. Looking west, One World Trade Center is perfectly framed at the end of the street, still catching the light of day. To the south, Nassau Street looks dressed up in the neighborhood's jaunty holiday stars. And to the east, in a teasing glimpse, a glowing Brooklyn Bridge upstages just about everything.

Notes: The Fulton Transit Center provides as easy way to come and go from here via subways. In making your way over to the Winter Garden, locate the PATH West Concourse underground.

See a post from April for an extended version of this walk.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from December 3, 2015.

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