Long before its trendy acronym, the Financial District was known as New Amsterdam, the birthplace of what we now call New York City. While remnants of those earliest days can be hard to find, the most visible link to the past is the area’s near-labyrinthine street plan, designed and laid out well before the (more or less) symmetrical grid that divides up Manhattan above Houston Street was created.
The Financial District, or FiDi, is home to many iconic sites, including Wall Street, the World Trade Center, and Battery Park. Wandering its blocks is a journey through the layers of New York’s past: Beaver, Pearl, and Nassau—and their irregular routes—evoke the days when New York was a small Colonial trading post, despite the glass-and-steel towers that today soar above their narrow lanes. Old and new coexist differently at South Street Seaport, where the tall ships and low-rise storefronts might seem completely frozen in time if not for the array of modern-day restaurants.