1. Visit the National 9/11 Memorial
We suggest you start by visiting the WTC site. In 2003, a master plan was approved which incorporated both the desire to turn the site into a lasting memorial and the will to rebuild the towers even stronger and taller than they stood before. The new WTC will consist of five towers and a new transportation hub surrounding the National 9/11 Memorial [see pin 1 on the map] . The Memorial features two massive square pools that are set within the footprints of the Twin Towers, and bear the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the 9/11 attacks and the 1993 bombing of the North Tower. A Memorial Museum stands in between the two fountains, but as of May 2012 it is not yet finished. The plaza surrounding the fountains and museum is filled with hundreds of oak trees. One tree, however, is different: a single pear tree stands out from the rest. This Survivor Tree was saved from the original WTC site after the attacks and nursed back to health. Now it stands proudly at the plaza once more, and has even bloomed again. Visitors gather here just to touch the bark of the “miracle tree”, which has inspired hope and stands as a vision of rebirth.
2. One World Trade Center and the New Towers
When visiting the Memorial, you will inevitably also see much of the progress on the construction of the new WTC. The master architect of the site, Daniel Libeskind, proposed a plan where the new office towers would slope down in a spiral around the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. This collection of towers will consist of four skyscrapers:
- One World Trade Center [see pin 3 on the map] is the lead building of the site, and when finished the tower will reach a symbolic 1,776 feet, after the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. It will become the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
- 2 World Trade Center will be the second-tallest skyscraper in the city and will boast a diamond-shaped roof. The building was designed by Foster and Partners. It is positioned in such a way that the top of this tower is angled towards the two memorial fountains.
- 3 World Trade Center will be the third-tallest building at the site. It is designed by Richard Rogers and will be the center of the various building around the memorial.
- 4 World Trade Center is the smallest of the four towers. It is designed by Maki and Associates, and will face the Memorial Park directly from the west.
This video shows an animation of what the completed WTC and 9/11 Memorial site will look like
The new WTC will not only include office space, but also a performing arts center and 550,000 square feet of retail space. Furthermore, a spectacular transportation hub designed by Santiago Calatrava will connect the World Trade Center to PATH trains and 13 subway lines. Every year on September 11 at 10:28 am, the moment the second tower collapsed, the sun will shine symmetrically through the central skylight of the hub towards the memorial. To get the latest updates on the progress of the construction, go to the World Trade Center website.
3. St. Paul’s Chapel
4. Century 21 & the Renewal of the Neighborhood
Two blocks south of the Chapel on Cortlandt Street stands the iconic Century 21 department store [see pin 5 on the map]. The building was heavily damaged in the 2001 attacks, but opened its renovated doors five months later to the applause of loyal customers. The reopening was hailed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a sign of the rebirth of Lower Manhattan. The always evolving store offers heavily discounted high fashion to shoppers from all over the world. Together with the upcoming retail space at the WTC, Century 21 helps to create a reputation for the neighborhood as a top shopping destination.
The renewal of the area can also be felt on the real estate market. New buildings are simply popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm! They complement the already existing historic buildings, and meet the demand for more apartments in this area. Indeed, after a shopping spree at Century 21, a nearby apartment where you can put away your purchases does sound good! Take for example this furnished studio apartment on Wall Street just 2000 feet away from Century 21. It is located smack-dab in the middle of the Financial District in a renovated building dating from 1836 that features a rooftop terrace!
5. World Financial Center, the Hudson River & Battery Park City
To take a breather and reflect on all the poignant impressions of the WTC and surroundings, make your way west to the World Financial Center [see pin 6 on the map]. This complex consists of four towers and the glass pavilion Winter Garden, and is situated right on the Hudson River waterfront. Have a drink at one of the terraces overlooking the serene marina, where the Manhattan Sailing School is based. Also be sure not to miss the gorgeous glass atrium of the Winter Garden, which boasts real palm trees. There are many shops and restaurants to be found here, but don’t stick around too long because there is much more to see!
To end your day in Battery Park City, we recommend dinner at the Italian restaurant Gigino, which you will find right near the end of the Esplanade next to Battery Park [see pin 8 on the map]. The restaurant offers fresh daily specials, has a fantastic wine selection and most important: an amazing view of the New York Harbor. You can dine out on the terrace with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the background!
6. What We Haven’t Seen Yet
Isn’t it amazing how much you can see in one day in New York City? And we haven’t even mentioned the other landmarks in the neighborhood, such as Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange [see pin 9 on the map], Trinity Church [see pin 10 on the map], Zuccoti Park (the site of the original Occupy Wall Street protest in September 2011) [see pin 11 on the map], the Charging Bull sculpture [see pin 12 on the map], the piers, the museums, and the Staten Island Ferry [see pin 13 on the map]. Check out this video tour of Broadway in the Financial District for a nice overview of the sites to see. All sounds a bit overwhelming? We wouldn’t recommend trying to cram all this into one day of sightseeing! If you want to explore the neighborhood at your own leisure and really take the time to soak it all in, consider renting an apartment in this vibrant neighborhood. To get an idea of the type of apartments we offer at this location, take a look at these New York furnished apartments in Lower Manhattan.