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History Of The Financial District

The Financial District is the oldest neighborhood in Manhattan. In 1625, a small band of Dutch settlers set up home on Manhattan's southern tip and established a company town for the Dutch West India Company. Ever since, trade and commerce have been the area's most important activities.

The heart of the financial district has always been Wall Street. The street's name derives from the 12-foot wall built in 1653 to protect the northern boundary of the area's settlement.

In 1789, Federal Hall and Wall Street was the scene of the United States' first presidential inauguration. This was also the location of the passing of the Bill Of Rights.

Traders and speculators began to congregate under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street to conduct their business in the late 18th century. In 1792, their activity was formalized when twenty-four stockbrokers and merchants signed the Buttonwood Agreement, which led to the establishment of the New York Stock Exchange.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the corporate culture of New York was a primary center for the construction of skyscrapers.

Neighborhood Description

The Manhattan Financial District is one of the largest business districts in the United States, second in New York City only to Midtown.

Previously, the neighborhood was considered to be primarily a destination for daytime traders and office workers from around New York City and the surrounding areas. The neighborhood now has a growing number of full-time residents and many buildings are being converted from office space to apartments and condominiums.

Wall Street's architecture is generally rooted in the Gilded Age, though there are also some art deco influences in the neighborhood. Landmark buildings on Wall Street include Federal Hall, 14 Wall Street (Bankers Trust Company Building), 40 Wall Street (The Trump Building), and the New York Stock Exchange at the corner of Broad Street.

The hostel is in The Bennett Building, an ornate historical landmark that was constructed in the late 1800s, and remains the tallest habitable building with cast-iron facades ever built. Outside of the hostel is the Broadway-Nassau subway station, with nine major metro lines. Numerous bus lines depart from the corner of Fulton and Broadway, and other subway stations are available just blocks away, putting all of Manhattan easily within reach. But if you feel like walking, just north of the Financial District are some of the hippest neighborhoods in Manhattan: Tribeca, The Lower East Side, Soho and Chinatown.


The South Street Seaport (Fulton St and the East River) is a historic mini-neighborhood that features renovated sailing ships and some of the oldest architecture in Manhattan.

Bowling Green Park (Broadway and Whitehall St) is the oldest park in New York and the location of the famous Charging Bull statue that is the unofficial symbol of Wall Street.

The Brooklyn Bridge, opened in 1883, is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States.

The New York City Police Museum (100 Old Slip) celebrates the history and contributions of the New York City Police Department since its establishment in 1845 and includes a special exhibit on Sept. 11.

The Museum of American Finance (48 Wall St) is the nation's only independent public museum dedicated to celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship and the democratic free market tradition.

Fraunces Tavern (54 Pearl St) was the favorite place to dine for America’s first president, George Washington, and now functions as both a restaurant and a museum.

The Sports Museum of America (26 Broadway) is the United States' first national sports museum dedicated to the history and cultural significance of sports in America.

Battery Park (Southern tip of Manhattan) is a 25-acre public park with a view of The New York Harbor, Ellis Island at The Statue of Liberty. The park also includes Hope Garden, a memorial to AIDS victims.

The George Gustav Heye Center (1 Bowling Green) is a museum dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history and arts of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere.

The Trinity Church (79 Broadway) is one of the oldest churches in America, having been established in 1697. The towering Gothic structure is hard to miss amongst all the modern skyscrapers.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Place) is a museum in memory of those who died in the Holocaust.

James Watson House (7 State St) was the family home of Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American Saint, and is now the site of a Roman Catholic shrine in her honor.

The Skyscraper Museum (39 Battery Place) is the only museum of its kind in the world, focusing on high-rise buildings as "objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence."

Federal Hall National Memorial (26 Wall Street) is the site of the first U.S. Capitol.

Staten Island Ferry (South Ferry at Whitehall Circle) is how residents of Staten Island commute to Manhattan, but a ride on this free ferry also provides one of the best views of the city.

Ellis Island (ferries depart from Battery Park), once the main facility for immigrants entering The United States, is now a museum to its own history.  

The Statue of Liberty (ferries depart from Battery Park) is one of the most iconic symbols of New York and The United States, donated by France in 1886.

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