For generations, the Financial District -- sometimes known as Wall Street, generally described as the part of lower Manhattan below City Hall Park and east of Battery Park City -- has been the home address for American business. That’s still the case, and tourists still line up to be photographed with the famous Wall Street Bull on lower Broadway and to witness the capitalistic chaos of the New York Stock Exchange at the corner of Broad and Wall Streets. What’s different, these days, is that the Financial District is much more than just Manhattan’s financial district. Along these narrow streets -- the oldest in Manhattan -- and alongside the classic office towers that define the Financial District in the popular imagination, the Financial District has emerged as one of Manhattan’s hottest and fastest-growing residential neighborhoods.
For all the business, financial and otherwise, that still gets done in the Financial District, there is now also a lot of everything else that makes a Manhattan neighborhood a Manhattan neighborhood. While no Manhattan neighborhood has quite the palpable historic character of the Financial District, it’s also easy to see the Financial District’s future -- a low-key but growing nightlife and restaurant scene continues to emerge, a few small art galleries have opened up, and the presence of farmers markets and other signs of Manhattan life reveal just how un-financial the Financial District’s new identity is. Financial District condominiums come in different shapes and sizes -- some in the form of new construction luxury towers, many others in stately pre-war FiDi office towers that have been transformed into stately FiDi condominiums -- but what matters most is that they continue to open; more than twice as many people live in the Financial District today as did at the turn of the 21st century. In the Financial District, a new residential neighborhood has been created essentially from scratch, right down to some of the city’s highest-rated public schools. Considering all the history on offer in the Financial District -- and there’s a lot, from the centuries-old Fraunces Tavern to the popular South Street Seaport Historic District to the Federal Hall National Memorial, where George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States -- it’s impressive indeed that the future of this neighborhood looks every bit as interesting.