New York City began down here, on this tip of an island where the Hudson and East Rivers meet. This is where the Dutch West India Company established its first New World outpost, and where Peter Minuit “bought” Manhattan from the Algonquins for the grand sum of $24.
This is where George Washington bade farewell to his troops at the end of the Revolutionary War, and where he was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. Here the New York Stock Exchange was born beneath a buttonwood tree, and here more than 20 million immigrants entered the country on their way to new lives as Americans.
Whispers of this early history still echo throughout Lower Manhattan in sites tucked away among the glistening towers and stone fortresses of corporate and financial America. In this most compressed of cities, this is the most compressed of neighborhoods. Everything here—the old and the new, the glitzy and the drab—is squeezed together on narrow, crooked streets that seem to belong more to the past than to the present.
Tragically, lower Manhattan is also the site of the former World Trade Center, destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The ghost of the twin towers still lingers over everything, yet the area is also on its way back. Many businesses are thriving again; new buildings and a memorial for the site are in the works.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition