Best of Lower Manhattan Walking Tour, New York

Best of Lower Manhattan Walking Tour (Self Guided), New York

Every part of Manhattan is terrific, but if you are looking for one that affords the best overview of New York City’s architectural styles, it’s Lower Manhattan – or the Downtown – that would get the most votes. This is where it all started, where New Amsterdam was founded, where Canal Street used to be a canal and where Wall Street used to be a wall marking the end of town. It’s also where the city has seen the most tragedy, from terrible fires to terrorist attacks that have reshaped the skyline. Today, it’s a place where the old and new converge, where Colonial churches and classical structures stand in the shadow of high-risers, together making for a memorable sight to behold.

Venture down to Lower Manhattan to see how the area came back to life after the heavy blow of September 11, 2001. Hours can be spent discovering newly-developed sites such as the new World Trade Center complex, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and the adjoining Liberty Park. It’s all very walkable and, frankly, quite stunning visually! By all means, visit these locations, but keep in mind that most New Yorkers don’t see them as mere tourist attractions.

Look no further than Battery Park for a walk along the water with refreshing views of Staten Island, Lady Liberty, the Staten Island Ferry, and parts of New Jersey. Named for the British cannons that once protected New York, the park has more than twenty statues and monuments, as well as newer attractions like the SeaGlass Carousel, an aquatic-themed merry-go-round.

If you fancy some historic sights, go to Fraunces Tavern where George Washington bid farewell to his troops, the Federal Hall where he took the oath of office as the first US President, or the Trinity Church where he once worshipped, located on Broadway.

In the world’s financial capital, you also owe yourself a walk through Wall Street, home of the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ, leading to the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, where you can see all the city and make the best photos of the travel.

To find your way around this plethora of landmarks and not get lost, follow our self-guided walking tour on a beautiful day and enjoy the best of times in New York!
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Best of Lower Manhattan Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Best of Lower Manhattan Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » New York (See other walking tours in New York)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 Km or 2.7 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • One World Trade Center
  • National September 11 Memorial & Museum
  • Castle Clinton & Battery Park
  • Fraunces Tavern
  • Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
  • Bowling Green Park
  • Trinity Church
  • Federal Hall
  • Wall Street
  • Brooklyn Bridge
One World Trade Center

1) One World Trade Center (must see)

One World Trade Center (also known as One WTC, 1 World Trade Center, 1 WTC, or Freedom Tower) is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, NYC. One WTC is the tallest building in the United States, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth-tallest in the world. The supertall structure has the same name as the North Tower of the original World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the attacks of September 11, 2001. The new skyscraper stands on the northwest corner of the 16-acre (6.5 ha) World Trade Center site, on the site of the original 6 World Trade Center. The building is bounded by West Street to the west, Vesey Street to the north, Fulton Street to the south, and Washington Street to the east.

The building's architect is David Childs, whose firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) also designed the Burj Khalifa and the Willis Tower. The construction of below-ground utility relocations, footings, and foundations for the new building began on April 27, 2006. One World Trade Center became the tallest structure in New York City on April 30, 2012, when it surpassed the height of the Empire State Building. The tower's steel structure was topped out on August 30, 2012. On May 10, 2013, the final component of the skyscraper's spire was installed, making the building, including its spire, reach a total height of 1,776 feet (541 m). Its height in feet is a deliberate reference to the year when the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. The building opened on November 3, 2014; the One World Observatory opened on May 29, 2015.

Why You Should Visit:
The experience of ascending 100+ floors in under a minute is impressive in itself, but the show when stepping out of the elevator really is the highlight.
You can take your time, you can buy drinks and sit down, learn more about NYC, and just enjoy the view.

Make sure you book in advance and try to coordinate your visit with the weather!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-9pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
National September 11 Memorial & Museum

2) National September 11 Memorial & Museum (must see)

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum (known separately as the 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Memorial Museum) are the principal memorial and museum, respectively, commemorating the September 11, 2001, attacks, which killed 2,977 people, and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, which killed six. The memorial is located at the World Trade Center site, the former location of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed during the September 11 attacks. It is operated by a non-profit corporation whose mission is to raise funds for, program, own, and operate the memorial and museum at the World Trade Center site.

On September 11, 2011, a dedication ceremony commemorating the tenth anniversary of the attacks was held at the memorial. Three months after its opening, the memorial had been visited by over a million people. In 2012 Tuesday's Children, a non-profit family-service organization dedicated to the individuals directly impacted by 9/11 and those who have lost loved ones to terrorism worldwide, joined with the 9/11 Memorial to offer private tours to family members of 9/11 victims and first responders.

Why You Should Visit:
There has been a lot of thought gone into making this tribute to all those who lost their lives.
You can go down 70 feet underground to the original bedrock and pillars the buildings were built on, or walk the grounds outside and look at the fountains.
Many personal belongings of the victims and remnants of structural portions of the buildings and city emergency vehicles are present to view, also.

Try purchasing tickets online in advance, especially during the busier months (holidays or vacation periods).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-8pm
Castle Clinton & Battery Park

3) Castle Clinton & Battery Park

Battery Park is a well known green space in New York City. Along the waterfront of the garden, ferries depart taking visitors to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The park also has many monuments and memorials within its grounds.

Battery Park gets its name from the artillery stationed by the British in the location to protect the early New York settlements. Castle Clinton, the last remnant of the fortress that protected the city, built in 1812, lies at its northern end. Pier A, a former fireboat station, Hope Gardens, a memorial to AIDS victims, and the East Coast Memorial, a monument to soldiers who died in World War II, are found within the park. In 1855, Castle Garden that forms part of Battery Park became the first immigrant depot in the world and remained so for 40 years until the venue shifted to Ellis Island. A sculpture, called “The Sphere”, that stood in front of the erstwhile World Trade Center, survived the attack and is now located in the Park.

Today, Battery Park is a beautifully landscaped and flower-bed laden place to take a relaxing stroll with breathtaking views. Its location has made the park the starting point of walking tours around the city. All through the summer, there are concerts playing on the grounds.

Why You Should Visit:
This lovely park has a great view either of the lower Manhattan skyline or of the sea with the Statue of Liberty.
A quiet place to rest (especially down on the water) or to enjoy all the restaurant options in the area.

Easy to combine this with a trip on the Staten Island Ferry (free) or a walk along other parts of lower Manhattan.
If going aboard one of the sightseeing boats, be at the park at least an hour and a half early for your voyage as the lines are usually very long.
Fraunces Tavern

4) Fraunces Tavern

Fraunces Tavern is a landmark museum and a restaurant in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, sitting on the corner of Broad Street at 54 Pearl Street. Opened in 1762, this location features much of the revolutionary history of New York before, during and after the American Revolution, and was once headquarters for George Washington, a venue for peace negotiations with the British, and a federal office in the Early Republic.

On the inside, Fraunces happens to be bigger than it looks on the outside, with lots of rooms for dining and/or drinking, named for the historic visitors and war heroes, decorated with white linens and chandeliers. Whilst here, you may wish to see the lobby frequented during the American Revolution by the likes of George Washington, or the Long Room in which he and his 185 friends gathered for a celebration dinner on November 25, 1783 after the British had left New York, known since as the “Evacuation Day”.

Washington himself was a big fan of Fraunces’ cooking and even made the innkeeper his presidential steward. He generally liked taverns and booze, and even named his three dogs Tipsy, Tippler and Drunkard. As part of the American Whiskey Trail and the New York Freedom Trail, Fraunces is a must-go for history, beer, and whiskey lovers. The whiskey bar has the best selection in NYC, and the tavern’s beer selection is historic just as well. The restaurant serves traditional American menu, offering meatloaf, steak (Fillet Mignon on a Stone is highly recommended!), various sandwiches and salads, plus desserts (creme brulee and pecan pie in particular).

The museum interprets the building and its history, along with varied exhibitions of art and artifacts. Just take your time and enjoy the quiet. Come here and you'll love it!
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House

5) Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is an imposing building constructed to handle the increasing duty collection requirements for the prospering port of New York City. In 1990, the United States Congress passed a legislation to name the building in honor of Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the U.S. treasury.

The present Custom House stands in the location of an earlier customs office that burned down in 1814. The building was designed in Beaux Arts style by Minnesota architect, Cass Gilbert, and the plan was selected by the then supervising architect of the treasury, James Knox Taylor. It was constructed between 1900 and 1907 under the supervision of John Pierce. The structure has a Roman dome under which public transactions once took place. There are also many ornate sculptures, paintings and decorations by American artists like Daniel Chester French and Albert Jaegers. The building was saved from demolition in 1979 by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who lobbied for its preservation and restoration.

Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is on the National Register for Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Today, the building houses the New York branch of the National Museum of the American Indian and the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Bowling Green Park

6) Bowling Green Park

Located near New York City's financial district, Bowling Green Park is a crescent-shaped fenced-in garden – the oldest public park in the city – whose benches and tables are much favored a lunchtime destination for the financial district workers. As if attesting to this is the charging bull statue of the New York Stock Exchange, found within the park, symbolizing financial hope.

Originally, this is the place where on May 24th, 1626 the Dutch Governor, Peter Minuit, bought Manhattan for as little as $24 worth of trinkets, thus rendering it the birthplace of the Dutch fort of New Amsterdam, precursor of New York City. For some time afterwards, the area served as a cattle market and was then turned into a parade ground with a large statue of King George III, made of lead, set in its midst. During the War of Independence, the statue was torn down and the lead was used to make patriot bullets. The original 18th century fence surrounding the park saw some action too when New Yorkers, enflamed with patriotic fervor, marched down Broadway to Bowling Green and ripped the gilded crowns from atop the fence posts.

During the time when New York was briefly the nation’s capital, George Washington made the city his home, precisely the Alexander Macomb House at 39-41 Broadway, at the northern tip of Bowling Green, where he resided for one year in 1790 with his family until the capital was moved to Philadelphia. Prior to that, for a short while in 1775, he also stayed in a home beside the park and reportedly enjoyed and frequented the park on his way home.

As a popular ground for lawn bowling, at some point Bowling Green saw many elegant houses mushroomed in the vicinity, gradually turning it into a promenade for the wealthy. In 1850, the park was thrown open to the general public, and in 1939 was manicured for the World’s Fair. After years of neglect that followed, Bowling Green Park was restored in 1970 and improved further in 1990.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Trinity Church

7) Trinity Church

Trinity Church is a traditional high church situated not far from the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway in Lower Manhattan. Renowned for both its location and endowment, this historic temple has been around since the late 17th century.

Originally built in 1698, the church had been remodeled three times until the current edifice came to be in 1846. In the course of the centuries, the Manhattan Trinity Church has held an important place in American history. During the American Revolution, it served as the British headquarters prior to being destroyed by the Great New York City Fire of 1776. The replacement building was completed in 1790 and saw many of the nation's founding fathers, like Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, attending services, as well as George Washington's inauguration thanksgiving service which also took place here.

The burial grounds outside the church are a who's who of early America. It is now a must-stop site for fans of the hit musical “Hamilton”, the lead character of which, Alexander Hamilton, is buried here alongside his wife and son. Today, thanks to the musical, his final resting place is a popular site for selfies. Washington’s aide and one of his most valued military staff, Hamilton was the nation’s first secretary of the treasury after George Washington was elected president in 1789. Following Washington’s death in December 1799, for a brief period he also had been the most senior-ranking officer in the U.S. army, until his retirement a year later.

Among other notable figures buried at Trinity are William Bradford ("the pioneer printer of the Middle colonies"), Robert Fulton (American engineer and inventor of a commercial steamboat), William Alexander (aka Lord Stirling, a Scottish-American major general during the American Revolutionary War), Francis Lewis (a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New York), Hercules Mulligan (Irish-American tailor and spy during the American Revolutionary War), Edward Irving Koch (mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989), and others. Remarkably, the Trinity Church graveyard is also the only cemetery in Manhattan still in service.
Federal Hall

8) Federal Hall

The finest example of classical architecture, Federal Hall bears witness to the momentous events in the history of New York City and the entire nation, and houses a museum dedicated to the history of the city after independence. The building stands on the location of the former city hall erected by the British in 1700. As such, it was the first U.S. Capitol, where Congress met after the revolution to establish the new federal government and ratified the Bill of Rights, and where George Washington was declared the first President of the United States.

In 1789, architect Charles Pierre L’Enfant was charged with the task of building the city of Washington DC and enlarging Federal Hall. The result was the first federal style building in the U.S. In 1790, New York City ceased to be the U.S. capital and the original building was torn down. Ithiel Down and Alexander Jackson Davis designed the present Classical-style building with Doric columns and a domed ceiling, created by John Frazee, largely adding to the classical appearance. The intent was to make the structure a symbol of democracy reminiscent of the Parthenon in ancient Greece.

A large bronze statue on the steps of the Federal Hall by John Quincy Adams Ward depicts George Washington taking presidential oath on April 30, 1789. While the statue is the same height and street location as where Washington stood, it marks the spot only approximately since at that time, he was inside another building on this site. A museum within the monument houses a small exhibit on Washington’s inauguration, the Bible upon which he was sworn in, as well series of displays depicting, among others, the arrest of newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger for exposing the corruption of the British government which led to major changes in the freedom of the press. Also on the premises is a fascinating “All George” gift shop offering everything, from Christmas ornaments to bookmarks featuring George's face.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Wall Street

9) Wall Street

One of the best-known locations in the United States, Wall Street is the symbol of America's financial might and the principal financial center of the world. The street consists of eight blocks, and runs from Broadway to South Street in the East River, Manhattan.

Wall Street was originally known as De Waal Straat, named so after a wall built by the Dutch to protect their settlement from the British and Native Americans. A small group of traders met under a buttonwood tree after the War of Independence and called themselves the Buttonwood Association. This group started what later became the New York Stock Exchange. In the 19th and 20th centuries, all major financial institutions had their headquarters or offices in the street. The New York Stock Exchange, the New York Mercantile Exchange, the New York Board of Trade and the Federal Reserve with a Gold vault 80 feet beneath the surface are located here. Wall Street was the scene of the September 11th destruction of the World Trade Center that caused a temporary loss of business in the area with firms relocating to other places in the city or other states.

Some beautiful historic buildings located here include the classic Federal Hall, the neoclassic New York Stock Exchange and the elaborately decorated former home of the Bank of Manhattan at 40, Wall Street.

Why You Should Visit:
The area is easily accessible through the subway system and is an easy walk.
It can be a good stop prior to or after a trip to the Statue of Liberty as you embark/disembark through Battery Park.

Consider going first thing in the morning if getting a clear photo with the Charging Bull is important to you.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Brooklyn Bridge

10) Brooklyn Bridge (must see)

When the Brooklyn Bridge was dedicated in 1883, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world and regarded at the time as the 8th wonder of the world. The bridge connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River.

The design of the Brooklyn Bridge was drawn up by John Augustus Roebling who had previously planned other smaller suspension bridges. Construction began under the supervision of his son Washington Roebling and was later overseen by his daughter-in-law Emily Roebling. It was completed in 1883. The bridge opening was a grand ceremony attended by prominent statesmen like President Chester A. Arthur and the New York Mayor, Franklin Edson. Emily Roebling was the first person to cross the bridge, followed by 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people going across from Manhattan to Brooklyn on the first day.

The Brooklyn Bridge has carried a range of vehicles from horse-drawn carriages to modern automobiles in its lifetime. Earlier, trolleys and elevated trains crossed it, and today there are six lanes for automobile traffic. Commercial vehicles and buses are prohibited from using the bridge because of the height and weight restrictions. Visitors can take a stroll on the separate walkway in the center lane of the bridge for breathtaking views and to admire the brilliant skills that went into making this amazing feat of engineering.

Why You Should Visit:
A great walk to view the Manhattan skyline and soak up the atmosphere of New York City.

Stay to the one pedestrian side while walking, or if you're biking, to the one biker side. The lanes get really narrow at certain points (it is an old bridge), so if you're walking, you don't wanna get hit by a bike!
That aside, do a little research about the Brooklyn side before you go, because there are some excellent and modestly priced restaurants there that don't get much press.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in New York, New York

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George Washington's New York

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 Km or 3.4 Miles

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