Portions of this article have been updated.
While many left the Financial District in the aftermath of the 9-11 attack, others have been lured into the area by the It Pays to Live Downtown grant, which offers up to $500 a month rebate in rent. Although living here means an easy commute for those who work at one of the nearby monoliths, the nabe is still considered off the beaten path: “It’s so different than the rest of New York,” says Thomas Goodkind, who moved to the Financial District in 1988. “It’s isolated. People are overweight, they don’t wear black, and they’re right-wing. It’s really weird.”
Boundaries: Chambers Street to the north; City Hall and South Street Seaport are on the border, but constitute their own unique enclaves.
Transportation: The 1, N/R, 4/5, and J/M/Z subway lines all pass through the neighborhood, as do several bus lines. Ferries run to points upriver and around the harbor.
Main Drags: Fulton, West, and Greenwich streets are best bets for nightlife and places to eat and shop. Broadway and Wall Street are filled with tourist and business traffic.
Average Price to Rent: The Financial District was “a neighborhood of choice,” says Andrew Heiberger, chairman and founder of Citi Habitats. “Then September 11 happened, and soon after, it became a value neighborhood.” By value, Heiberger means people get more bang for their buck because of the grants and an increase in available units. Most living spaces are in luxury high-rise buildings. Studio, $2,000 and up ($2,000); one-bedroom, $2,500 and up ($2,400); two-bedroom, $3,500 and up ($3,300); three-bedroom, $4,500 and up ($4,400).
Average Price to Buy: Co-ops, condos, and loft spaces are typically available. The rule of thumb is $576.30 per square foot.
Museums: Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are a boat ride away, but save yourself the hassle and ride the cheap and scenic Staten Island Ferry. The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House/National Museum of the American Indian (1 Bowling Green), Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Place), and Vietnam Veterans Park and Memorial (Coenties Slip) are in the area.
Shops: Century 21 (22 Cortlandt Street) is a discount destination for the label-obsessed.
Green Space: Locals tend to hit Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park, leaving Battery Park to the tourists. The bike path that starts in Battery Park City runs north along the Hudson all the way to Harlem.
Cultural Institutions: There are plenty of cultural institutions in the fields of finance and government, but not much in the arts.
Community Groups: The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s It Pays to Live Downtown program offers up to $12,000 on two-year leases. While the grants are supposed to end May 31, some experts predict they’ll be extended. It takes four to six months before you get your first check, but it’s retroactive. It also takes some patience: One resident gave up after sending in his utility bill three times to prove his residency.
Local Landmarks: There’s no doubt that the WTC site is still the big draw. “I’ll be coming home at three in the morning,” says resident Johnnie K., “and some family from out of town will ask me directions to the site.”
Famous Residents: Sonic Youth’s latest was named Murray Street because the band’s studio is located on it.
Restaurants: The newly opened and modestly priced French bistro Cassis (52 Stone Street) is located on a scenic street paved in brick, and flanked by colonial-era townhouses. The Winter Garden Café (2 World Financial Center) is a favorite local diner hangout.
Bars: John Street Bar (17 John Street) is a dive that caters to a mix of locals, but Friday nights attract scenesters and stars (Tobey Maguire, Christina Aguilera, and others). The Pussycat Lounge (96 Greenwich Street) is both a rock club and a strip joint. Giuliani made the ladies put on bikinis, but the place still puts the sleaze back in rock and roll.
Happenings: The Tribeca Film Festival often screens at the United Artists Theater (102 North End Avenue), which everyone claims is a great place to see movies—it’s never crowded. The 2003 River to River Arts Festival (various sites, rivertorivernyc.org) featured 500 free events between late May and September. James Brown kicked things off May 27.
Politicians: Councilmembers Alan J. Gerson and Margarita Lopez, assembly members Sheldon Silver and Deborah J. Glick, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, and State Senator Martin Connor—all Democrats
Crime Stats: The First Precinct serves the Financial District. As of October 16, 2005, it reported zero murders, 3 rapes, 127 robberies, 90 felony assaults, and 225 burglaries. (The First Precinct serves the Financial District. As of April 27, it reported zero murders, down one from last year; zero rapes, down one; 61 robberies, down three; 135 burglaries, up 59; and 45 felonious assaults, same as last year.)