My Lower Manhattan Meanderings

02/01/2011 in


I have a small confession to make. I don’t know Lower Manhattan very well.

I know, I know! How can I have been working at the Downtown Alliance for so long (more than eight years) and not know the area perfectly? Well, I know some areas and I’ve been everywhere in the district, but I am terrible with street names (just ask my wife) and don’t get out of the office much except to go to the same pizza place, the same sandwich place, and the Wachovia lobby. I like to joke that because I’m the tech guy here, overseeing all of our technology and online communications, they don’t let me outside very much.

But that is going to change now. I’ve decided it is finally time to get to know the district better, every little nook and cranny, and you get to come along for the ride.

This morning I walked out of the Pine Street side of our building (we’re at 120 Broadway) and crossed the street to walk south on Broadway. I passed by the Borders (how many hours and dollars have I spent there?), always careful not to step onto any of our Canyon of Heroes Markers and crossed the street to enter Trinity Church‘s courtyard.

Walking in there always makes me miss the warmer weather. They have such beautiful trees there that bloom every spring. This is one of my favorite shortcuts in Lower Manhattan. I feel somewhat sheltered from the chaos of the workday because there’s less hustle and bustle in there. Walking through there is a serene, almost meditative experience.

On the north side of the church grounds, across from Pine Street, is a monument to the soldiers of the American Revolution who died in prison-pens while the British occupied New York. It was built around 1862 and at the time, there were discussions about extending Pine Street through the cemetery to Trinity Street. It seems that monument settled that issue once and for all.

I followed the path around the back of the Church and walked down the stairs coming out on Trinity Place.

I made a left and walked under the pedestrian bridge connecting Trinity Church to 74 Trinity Place. After ten years working in Lower Manhattan, this was the first time I walked across that bridge. Standing over the traffic as it rushed under me was totally cool! What’s interesting about that bridge is that it looks like it is…well, at least older than I am. But in reality it was built in 1989 and is now used exclusively by employees (and lucky guests like myself—I was working on a project with the church). I honestly thought it was much older than that.

As I crossed Rector Street, I noticed the wrapping around the construction site on the southeast corner. It’s a Re:Construction project, one of 20 Downtown Alliance public art projects that recast construction sites as canvases for innovative public art and architecture in the area.

Unfortunately, to be honest, Trinity Place for the block south of Rector is not the prettiest stretch of street in Lower Manhattan, but it also happens to be the back of where our Public Safety and Sanitation offices are located. I walked a little farther and then I passed Exchange Alley, a tiny little cobblestoned street that leads you back to Broadway. I think I remember seeing stores using it for outdoor seating last year. What a great idea! (Am I missing warmer weather or what???) And there’s an escalator on the right side in case the “hill” is just too much for you to handle.

There’s something else worth seeing down this block as well. Down a little ways and across the street is Greenstreet at Edgar Street, a small public park. During the summer this place is beautiful, with red geraniums in a circle around a green tree.

I stood there for a few moments, trying to imagine what it will be like if the weather is ever warm again. And then I headed back to the office to write this, walking up Rector Street, this time to Broadway. I saw a sign in the shoe store there that advertises “We are probably the lowest priced in the city.” Probably.

I hope you enjoyed my little meandering. I just wish I had decided to do this in May instead of January. It was cold!

Any suggestions on where I should head next time?

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