The Financial District encompasses roughly the area south of
City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan but excludes
Battery Park and
Battery Park City. The former
World Trade Center complex was located in the neighborhood until the
September 11, 2001, attacks; the neighborhood includes the successor
One World Trade Center. The heart of the Financial District is often considered to be the corner of Wall Street and
Broad Street, both of which are contained entirely within the district. The northeastern part of the Financial District (along
Fulton Street and John Street) was known in the early 20th century as the Insurance District, due to the large number of insurance companies that were either headquartered there, or maintained their New York offices there.
The streets in the area were laid out as part of the
Castello Plan prior to the
Commissioners' Plan of 1811, a grid plan that dictates the placement of most of Manhattan's streets north of
Houston Street. Thus, it has small streets "barely wide enough for a single lane of traffic are bordered on both sides by some of the tallest buildings in the city", according to one description, which creates "breathtaking artificial canyons". Some streets have been designated as pedestrian-only with vehicular traffic prohibited.
The Financial District is a major location of
tourism in New York City. One report described Lower Manhattan as "swarming with camera-carrying tourists". Tour guides highlight places such as
Trinity Church, the
Federal Reserve Bank of New York Building gold vaults 80 feet below street level (worth $100 billion), and the
New York Stock Exchange Building. A Scoundrels of Wall Street Tour is a walking historical tour which includes a museum visit and discussion of various financiers "who were adept at finding ways around finance laws or loopholes through them". Occasionally artists make impromptu performances; for example, in 2010, a troupe of 22 dancers "contort their bodies and cram themselves into the nooks and crannies of the Financial District in Bodies in Urban Spaces" choreographed by Willi Donner. One chief attraction, the Federal Reserve, paid $750,000 to open a visitors' gallery in 1997. The New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange also spent money in the late 1990s to upgrade facilities for visitors. Attractions include the
gold vault beneath the Federal Reserve and that "staring down at the trading floor was as exciting as going to the
Statue of Liberty".
The Financial District's architecture is generally rooted in the
Gilded Age, though there are also some
art deco influences in the neighborhood. The area is distinguished by narrow streets, a steep topography, and high-rises Construction in such narrow steep areas has resulted in occasional accidents such as a crane collapse. One report divided lower Manhattan into three basic districts:
The Financial District proper—particularly along John Street
South of the World Trade Center area—the handful of blocks located south of the World Trade Center along
Greenwich, Washington and West Streets
Seaport district—characterized by century-old low-rise buildings and
South Street Seaport; the seaport is "quiet, residential, and has an old world charm" according to one description.
Another key anchor for the area is the
New York Stock Exchange. City authorities realize its importance, and believed that it has "outgrown its neoclassical temple at the corner of Wall and Broad streets", and in 1998 offered substantial tax incentives to try to keep it in the Financial District. Plans to rebuild it were delayed by the September 11, 2001, attacks. The Exchange still occupies the same site. The Exchange is the locus for a large amount of technology and data. For example, to accommodate the three thousand persons who work directly on the Exchange floor requires 3,500 kilowatts of electricity, along with 8,000 phone circuits on the trading floor alone, and 200 miles of fiber-optic cable below ground.
Buildings in the Financial District can have one of several types of official landmark designations:
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is the New York City agency that is responsible for identifying and designating the city's landmarks and the buildings in the city's historic districts. New York City landmarks (NYCL) can be categorized into one of several groups: individual (exterior), interior, and scenic landmarks.
National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance.
National Historic Landmark (NHL) focuses on places of significance in American history, architecture, engineering, or culture; all NHL sites are also on the NRHP.
The following landmarks are situated south of Morris Street and west of Whitehall Street/Broadway:
What is now the Financial District was once part of
New Amsterdam, situated on the strategic southern tip of the island of Manhattan. New Amsterdam was derived from
Fort Amsterdam, meant to defend the
fur trade operations of the
Dutch West India Company in the North River (
Hudson River). In 1624, it became a provincial extension of the
Dutch Republic and was designated as the capital of the province of
New Netherland in 1625. By 1655, the population of New Netherland had grown to 2,000 people, with 1,500 living in New Amsterdam. By 1664, the population of New Netherland had skyrocketed to almost 9,000 people, 2,500 of whom lived in New Amsterdam, 1,000 lived near
Fort Orange, and the remainder in other towns and villages. In 1664 the English took over New Amsterdam and renamed it New York City.
19th and 20th centuries
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the
corporate culture of New York was a primary center for the construction of
early skyscrapers, and was rivaled only by
Chicago on the American continent. There were also residential sections, such as the Bowling Green section between Broadway and the
Hudson River, and between
Vesey Street and the Battery. The
Bowling Green area was described as "Wall Street's
back yard" with poor people, high
infant mortality rates, and the "worst housing conditions in the city". As a result of the construction, looking at New York City from the east, one can see two distinct clumps of tall buildings—the Financial District on the left, and the taller
Midtown neighborhood on the right. The
geology of Manhattan is well-suited for tall buildings, with a solid mass of
bedrock underneath Manhattan providing a firm foundation for tall buildings. Skyscrapers are expensive to build, but the scarcity of land in the Financial District made it suitable for the construction of skyscrapers.
John Brooks in his book Once in Golconda considered the start of the 20th century period to have been the area's heyday. The address of
23 Wall Street, the headquarters of
J. P. Morgan & Company, known as The Corner, was "the precise center, geographical as well as metaphorical, of financial America and even of the financial world".
On September 16, 1920, close to the corner of Wall and
Broad Street, the busiest corner of the Financial District and across the offices of the
Morgan Bank, a
powerful bomb exploded. It killed 38 and seriously injured 143 people. The area was subjected to numerous threats; one bomb threat in 1921 led to detectives sealing off the area to "prevent a repetition of the Wall Street bomb explosion".
Late-20th century growth
During most of the 20th century, the Financial District was a business community with practically only offices which emptied out at night. Writing in The Death and Life of Great American Cities in 1961, urbanist
Jane Jacobs described a "deathlike stillness that settles on the district after 5:30 and all day Saturday and Sunday". But there has been a change towards greater residential use of the area, pushed forwards by technological changes and shifting market conditions. The general pattern is for several hundred thousand workers to commute into the area during the day, sometimes by sharing a
taxicab from other parts of the city as well as from
New Jersey and
Long Island, and then leave at night. In 1970 only 833 people lived "south of Chambers Street"; by 1990, 13,782 people were residents with the addition of areas such as
Battery Park City and
Southbridge Towers. Battery Park City was built on 92 acres of landfill, and 3,000 people moved there beginning about 1982, but by 1986 there was evidence of more shops and stores and a park, along with plans for more residential development.
Construction of the World Trade Center began in 1966, but the
World Trade Center had trouble attracting tenants when completed. Nonetheless, some substantial firms purchased space there. Its impressive height helped make it a visual landmark for drivers and pedestrians. In some respects, the nexus of the Financial District moved physically from Wall Street to the World Trade Center complex and surrounding buildings such as the
Deutsche Bank Building,
90 West Street, and
One Liberty Plaza. Real estate growth during the latter part of the 1990s was significant, with deals and new projects happening in the Financial District and elsewhere in Manhattan; one firm invested more than $24 billion in various projects, many in the Wall Street area. In 1998, the NYSE and the city struck a $900 million deal which kept the
NYSE from moving across the river to
Jersey City; the deal was described as the "largest in city history to prevent a corporation from leaving town". A competitor to the NYSE,
NASDAQ, moved its headquarters from
Washington to New York.
In 1987, the stock market plunged and, in the relatively brief recession following,
lower Manhattan lost 100,000 jobs according to one estimate. Since telecommunications costs were coming down, banks and
brokerage firms could move away from the Financial District to more affordable locations. The recession of 1990–91 was marked by office vacancy rates downtown which were "persistently high" and with some buildings "standing empty".
In 1995, city authorities offered the Lower Manhattan Revitalization Plan which offered incentives to convert commercial properties to residential use. According to one description in 1996, "The area dies at night ... It needs a neighborhood, a community." During the past two decades there has been a shift towards greater residential living areas in the Financial District, with incentives from city authorities in some instances. Many empty office buildings have been converted to lofts and apartments; for example, the
Liberty Tower, the office building of oil magnate
Harry Sinclair, was converted to a co-op in 1979. In 1996, a fifth of buildings and warehouses were empty, and many were converted to living areas. Some conversions met with problems, such as aging gargoyles on building exteriors having to be expensively restored to meet with current building codes. Residents in the area have sought to have a supermarket, a movie theater, a pharmacy, more schools, and a "good diner". The discount retailer named Job Lot used to be located at the World Trade Center but moved to Church Street; merchants bought extra unsold items at steep prices and sold them as a discount to consumers, and shoppers included "thrifty homemakers and browsing retirees" who "rubbed elbows with City Hall workers and Wall Street executives"; but the firm went bust in 1993.
There were reports that the number of residents increased by 60% during the 1990s to about 25,000 although a second estimate (based on the 2000 census based on a different map) places the residential population in 2000 at 12,042. By 2001 there were several grocery stores, dry cleaners, and two grade schools and a top high school.
September 11 attacks
In 2001, the Big Board, as some termed the NYSE, was described as the world's "largest and most prestigious stock market". When the
World Trade Center was destroyed on
September 11, 2001, it left an architectural void as new developments since the 1970s had played off the complex aesthetically. The attacks "crippled" the communications network. One estimate was that 45% of the neighborhood's "best office space" had been lost. The physical destruction was immense:
Debris littered some streets of the financial district. National Guard members in camouflage uniforms manned checkpoints. Abandoned coffee carts, glazed with dust from the collapse of the World Trade Center, lay on their sides across sidewalks. Most subway stations were closed, most lights were still off, most telephones did not work, and only a handful of people walked in the narrow canyons of Wall Street yesterday morning.
Still, the NYSE was determined to re-open on September 17, almost a week after the attack. After September 11, the financial services industry went through a downturn with a sizable drop in year-end bonuses of $6.5 billion, according to one estimate from a state comptroller's office.
To guard against a vehicular bombing in the area, authorities built concrete barriers, and found ways over time to make them more aesthetically appealing by spending $5000 to $8000 apiece on
bollards. Several streets in the neighborhood, including Wall and Broad Streets, were blocked off by specially designed bollards:
Rogers Marvel designed a new kind of bollard, a faceted piece of sculpture whose broad, slanting surfaces offer people a place to sit in contrast to the typical bollard, which is supremely unsittable. The bollard, which is called the Nogo, looks a bit like one of Frank Gehry's unorthodox culture palaces, but it is hardly insensitive to its surroundings. Its bronze surfaces actually echo the grand doorways of Wall Street's temples of commerce. Pedestrians easily slip through groups of them as they make their way onto Wall Street from the area around historic Trinity Church. Cars, however, cannot pass.
By the 2010s, the Financial District had become established as a residential and commercial neighborhood. Several new skyscrapers such as
125 Greenwich Street and
130 William were being developed, while other structures such as
1 Wall Street, the
Equitable Building, and the
Woolworth Building were extensively renovated. Additionally, there were more signs of dogwalkers at night and a 24-hour neighborhood, although the general pattern of crowds during the working hours and emptiness at night was still apparent. There were also ten hotels and thirteen museums in 2010. In 2007 the French fashion retailer
Hermès opened a store in the Financial District to sell items such as a "$4,700 custom-made leather dressage saddle or a $47,000 limited edition alligator briefcase". However, there are reports of panhandlers like elsewhere in the city. By 2010 the residential population had increased to 24,400 residents. and the area was growing with luxury high-end apartments and upscale retailers.
On October 29, 2012, New York and New Jersey were inundated by
Hurricane Sandy. Its 14-foot-high storm surge, a local record, caused massive street flooding in many parts of Lower Manhattan. Power to the area was knocked out by a transformer explosion at a
Con Edison plant. With mass transit in New York City already suspended as a precaution even before the storm hit, the New York Stock Exchange and other financial exchanges were closed for two days, re-opening on October 31. From 2013 to 2021, nearly two hundred buildings in the Financial District were converted to residential use. Furthermore, between 2001 and 2021, the proportion of companies in the area that were in the finance and insurance industries declined from 55 to 30 percent.
For census purposes, the New York City government classifies the Financial District as part of a larger neighborhood tabulation area called Battery Park City-Lower Manhattan. Based on data from the
2010 United States Census, the population of Battery Park City-Lower Manhattan was 39,699, an increase of 19,611 (97.6%) from the 20,088 counted in
2000. Covering an area of 479.77 acres (194.16 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 82.7/acre (52,900/sq mi; 20,400/km2). The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 65.4% (25,965)
White, 3.2% (1,288)
African American, 0.1% (35)
Native American, 20.2% (8,016)
Asian, 0.0% (17)
Pacific Islander, 0.4% (153) from
other races, and 3.0% (1,170) from two or more races.
Latino of any race were 7.7% (3,055) of the population.
The entirety of Community District 1, which comprises the Financial District and other Lower Manhattan neighborhoods, had 63,383 inhabitants as of
NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 85.8 years.: 2, 20 This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.: 53 (PDF p. 84)  Most inhabitants are young to middle-aged adults: half (50%) are between the ages of 25–44, while 14% are between 0–17, and 18% between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 11% and 7% respectively.: 2
As of 2017, the median
household income in Community Districts 1 and 2 (including
Greenwich Village and
SoHo) was $144,878, though the median income in the Financial District individually was $125,565. In 2018, an estimated 9% of Financial District and Lower Manhattan residents lived in poverty, compared to 14% in all of Manhattan and 20% in all of New York City. One in twenty-five residents (4%) were unemployed, compared to 7% in Manhattan and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 38% in Financial District and Lower Manhattan, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 45% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018[update], Financial District and Lower Manhattan are considered high-income relative to the rest of the city and not
The population of the Financial District has grown to an estimated 61,000 residents as of 2018, up from 43,000 as of 2014, which in turn was nearly double the 23,000 recorded at the 2000 Census.
Financial District and Lower Manhattan are patrolled by the 1st Precinct of the
NYPD, located at 16 Ericsson Place. The 1st Precinct ranked 63rd safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. Though the number of crimes is low compared to other NYPD precincts, the residential population is also much lower. As of 2018[update], with a non-fatal assault rate of 24 per 100,000 people, Financial District and Lower Manhattan's rate of
violent crimes per capita is less than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 152 per 100,000 people is lower than that of the city as a whole.: 8
The 1st Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 86.3% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct reported 1 murder, 23 rapes, 80 robberies, 61 felony assaults, 85 burglaries, 1,085 grand larcenies, and 21 grand larcenies auto in 2018.
Engine Company 10/Ladder Company 10 – 124 Liberty Street
As of 2018[update],
preterm births and births to teenage mothers are less common in Financial District and Lower Manhattan than in other places citywide. In Financial District and Lower Manhattan, there were 77 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 2.2 teenage births per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide), though the teenage birth rate is based on a small sample size.: 11 Financial District and Lower Manhattan have a low population of residents who are
uninsured. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 4%, less than the citywide rate of 12%, though this was based on a small sample size.: 14
The concentration of
fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of
air pollutant, in Financial District and Lower Manhattan is 0.0096 mg/m3 (9.6×10−9 oz/cu ft), more than the city average.: 9 Sixteen percent of Financial District and Lower Manhattan residents are
smokers, which is more than the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.: 13 In Financial District and Lower Manhattan, 4% of residents are
obese, 3% are
diabetic, and 15% have
high blood pressure, the lowest rates in the city—compared to the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively.: 16 In addition, 5% of children are obese, the lowest rate in the city, compared to the citywide average of 20%.: 12
Ninety-six percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is more than the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 88% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," more than the city's average of 78%.: 13 For every supermarket in Financial District and Lower Manhattan, there are 6
Financial District is located within several
ZIP Codes. The largest ZIP Codes are 10004, centered around the Battery; 10005, around Wall Street; 10006, around the World Trade Center; 10007, around
City Hall; and 10038, around South Street Seaport. There are also several smaller ZIP Codes spanning one block, including 10045 around the
Federal Reserve Bank; 10271 around the
Equitable Building; and 10279 around the
Financial District and Lower Manhattan generally have a higher rate of college-educated residents than the rest of the city as of 2018[update]. The vast majority of residents age 25 and older (84%) have a college education or higher, while 4% have less than a high school education and 12% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 64% of Manhattan residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher.: 6 The percentage of Financial District and Lower Manhattan students excelling in math rose from 61% in 2000 to 80% in 2011, and reading achievement increased from 66% to 68% during the same time period. The Financial District is home to
Pace University's New York City Campus, one of the oldest Universities in New York City.
Financial District and Lower Manhattan's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is lower than the rest of New York City. In Financial District and Lower Manhattan, 6% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per
school year, less than the citywide average of 20%.: 6 : 24 (PDF p. 55) Additionally, 96% of high school students in Financial District and Lower Manhattan graduate on time, more than the citywide average of 75%.: 6
New York Public Library (NYPL) operates two branches nearby. The New Amsterdam branch is located at 9 Murray Street near Broadway. It was established on the ground floor of an office building in 1989. The
Battery Park City branch is located at 175 North End Avenue near Murray Street. Completed in 2010, the two-story branch is NYPL's first
22nd-tallest building in the United States; formerly known as the American International Building and the Cities Service Building 70 Pine is being transformed into a residential skyscraper with 644 rental residences, 132 hotel rooms and 35,000 square feet (3,300 square meters) of retail
^Couzzo, Steve (April 25, 2007).
"FiDi Soaring High". New York Post. Retrieved December 3, 2014. The Financial District is over. So is the "Wall Street area." But say hello to FiDi, the coinage of major downtown landlord Kent Swig, who decided it's time to humanize the old F.D. with an easily remembered, fun-sounding acronym.
^"Top 8 Cities by GDP: China vs. The U.S." Business Insider, Inc. July 31, 2011. Archived from
the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2015. For instance, Shanghai, the largest Chinese city with the highest economic production, and a fast-growing global financial hub, is far from matching or surpassing New York, the largest city in the U.S. and the economic and financial super center of the world. "PAL sets introductory fares to New York". Philippine Airlines. Retrieved March 25, 2015.