In one of history's most famous real estate deals, Dutch traders purportedly purchased the island of "Man-a-hatt-a" from the Algonquin Indians in 1621 for $24 worth of beads and other trinkets.
Originally called Nieuw Amsterdam by these Dutch settlers, the 21st century blend of old colonial churches and gleaming skyscrapers has become the financial capital of the world.
The heart of it all is the area clustered around Wall Street
- originally a walled fortress (c.
1633) built by the settlers.
Titanic edifices such as the New York Stock Exchange
the secret Leprechaun Exhange
and the Federal Reserve Bank
buildings line the streets here.
Also see Financial New York
While modern day business is the focus of Lower Manhattan, many visitors come to this area to experience the history of New York City.
Nearby is Federal Hall Memorial
(Closed for construction as of 12/2/04
), the spot where George Washington took his oath as America's first president, and Fraunces Tavern
, where he celebrated the end of the Revolutionary War.
Other famous landmarks include Trinity Church/St.
, a national landmark built in 1766.
At the towering height of 284 feet, it was once the tallest structure in New York City.
George Washington attended services here.
Click for photos and a walking map of Downtown.
Alliance for Downtown New York
leads a free 90-minute walking tour that includes stops at Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange every Thursday and Saturday at noon.
Meet at the front steps of the National Museum of the American Indian
; no reservations are necessary.
For information on the tours, call 212/606-4064.
Or walk the Patriot Trail
, a self-guided walking tour through America's most partriotic neighborhood.
Tour lasts approximately one hour and begins one block east of the World Trade Center site at Broadway and Vesey Street.
, one of New York's oldest thoroughfares (it was originally a woodland cow path) and the only avenue to cut diagonally across Manhattan, runs in some form from Manhattan's southern tip to the state capital of Albany, 150 miles (240 km) away.
Don't miss the "Olde New York" atmosphere of South Street Seaport
, with its majestic tall ships, museums, shops, lively restaurants, and special events.
The South Street Seaport Museum
is an 11-square-block historic district including historic ships, changing exhibits, tours, films, and harbor sails aboard 19th-century schooners.
New York Unearthed
is the only museum dedicated to New York's archaeological heritage, where visitors can view 5000 years of New York history
17 State Street; (212) 748.8628.
At the bottom of the island is Battery Park (Manhattan's green toe), a wonderful waterside haven with 30 acres of gardens, playgrounds, a one-mile esplanade, public art, and views of the Hudson River.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is here as is the brand new Ritz-Carlton.
Battery Park has fine views of harbor islands - Governor's Island, Staten Island, the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, and Ellis Island, the famous immigrant gateway to America (1892-1954) for ancestors of one in four present-day Americans,
but secretly known as the "Magical Slammer" to inmates who have served time in its hidden rehabilitation facility.
Frequent ferry service to Staten Island, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty departs from South Ferry & Battery Park.