Strangers to the Financial District and Battery Park might be surprised by the plethora of things to see and do beyond Wall Street. For starters, there’s the Battery itself: a 25-acre public park along the southern tip of Manhattan. There are other parks too, most notably the Battery Park City Esplanade, Rockefeller Park, and City Hall Park, which has a bike path to the Brooklyn Bridge. Beyond parks, there are museums, and the Seaport, and charming cobblestone streets, and much more to discover.
You can easily spend a full day at the Battery—and that’s even without taking one of the ferries from there to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. History buffs will want to stop by Castle Clinton, built in the run-up to the War of 1812. Families will flock to the Playscape, which encompasses sand play, slides, playhouses, and other activities. Art afficionados will appreciate the park’s numerous sculptures and monuments, nature-lovers will relish the lush gardens, and just about everyone will want to ride the dazzling SeaGlass Carousel.
Like the Battery, the Seaport offers something for just about everyone. Located within the South Street Seaport Historic District and in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, it includes the South Street Seaport Museum, where you can visit exhibitions about the seafaring aspects of the city’s past in a former dockside countinghouse as well as tour an 1885 tall ship and a 1908 lightship. Also part of the Seaport are shops (including the Fulton Stall farmers’ market), bars, restaurants, and the Rooftop at Pier 17, which hosts concerts throughout the summer.
Part of the Smithsonian Institute, this is the New York offshoot of the Washington museum of the same name. It is located in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, a landmark building that in and of itself would be worth a visit. Add to that the hundreds of artworks and artifacts from indigenous peoples throughout the Americas, works by contemporary Native artists, and exhibits focusing on the nations who resided in New York long before the Europeans, and you’ll wonder why more people don’t visit.
The second part of this museum’s name—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust—is also its mission. Among its exhibitions for 2022 are “Boris Lurie: Nothing to Do but to Try,” a visual memoir of sorts by the Holocaust survivor and artist, and “The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do,” testimonies, photos, and possessions of survivors. The museum hosts discussions and live performances as well.
Living in New York, it’s easy to take skyscrapers for granted. After a visit to this museum, you’ll never do so again. Scale models, photos, graphics, and well-written text show and tell the history, science, and art of these towering structures.