An unlikely place to have a burgeoning residential community, the Financial District is now a trendy area for those in finance and other economic careers. Ample employment exists in what is currently the country’s fourth-largest business district and one of the hubs of both the American and global economies. Along with Midtown Manhattan, it has the densest concentration of subway lines and stations in New York City, and the Financial District’s compact size and direct, pedestrian-friendly streets, in contrast to the grid above 14th Street, means that no destination in the area more than a short walk away.
Throughout New York City’s history, the Financial District has been the home to the nation’s pre-eminent financial companies and trading institutions. It also contains an unfortunately oft-forgotten colonial past, a result of being one of the first settlements of New Amsterdam by the Dutch in the 16th century. Remnants of this past exist at Battery Park, where the historic Castle Clinton stands watch at the southern tip of Manhattan. The density of important financial landmarks such as the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Reserve Bank of New York allowed for the Financial District to remain relevant even as the city began to expand northwards throughout the 19th century, although it was eventually eclipsed by Midtown Manhattan in terms of office square footage with the skyscraper boom of the early- and mid-20th century. Today, the two areas complement each other as the “centers” of New York City and its metropolitan area.
Even in the 1990s, it would be hard to find someone who believed that the Financial District could become a residential destination. Once desolate at night, it is now common to see residents eating dinner at any of the neighborhood’s numerous restaurants or relaxing for lunch on the pedestrian-only Stone Street. Buildings that once held offices are now being converted to residential use, increasing the population of this land-scarce district. Those seeking an investment in an ever-growing neighborhood will surely be rewarded by living in the Financial District, as its appeal is unlikely to stop any time soon.