Wall Street is a global financial hub located in Manhattan, New York City. There are many things to do here, and this area definitely has more than just finance to offer. We visited this fabled district recently, and it was a surreal experience. I mean, this is the place where billions of dollars of transactions are done everyday; it is also the place where Wall Street power brokers can make or break our global financial system.
We were also fascinated by Wall Street’s architecture, which mostly stems from the opulent Gilded Age. Therefore, we came across many stately neoclassical buildings as well as several beautiful Neo-Gothic structures.
Wall Street has deep historical significance. We saw many monuments and memorials commemorating the country’s historical events and figures. This area has been witness to many of the nation’s triumphs: the swearing in of the first US president, the establishment of a powerful stock exchange, etc. But sadly, it has also been the victim of some tragic events.
Last but not least, we also found a good shopping spot in Wall Street. Raevian had a good time browsing the myriad of designer-brand goods at this department store.
Therefore, Wall Street is definitely more than just a financial hub! Other than just taking photos with the “Wall Street” road signs, there are plenty of other things to do. Below is a list of 12 awesome things to do in Wall Street, arranged in alphabetical order.
1. Alexander Hamilton US Custom House
The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is located just steps away from the Charging Bull statue. It was built in 1907 as a tax operations office for the Port of New York. This magnificent structure is designed in the Beaux-Arts style, which is a neoclassical architectural style. Today, it houses the National Museum of the American Indian on its first three floors.
This was indeed an awe-inspiring building and we took many Instagram-worthy photos here. I also took some time to admire the many beautiful sculptures on the building’s facade.
2. Battery Park
We went to nearby Battery Park after visiting the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl Statues. This is a public park located at the very southern tip of Manhattan. The park is so named because artillery batteries were placed here last time to protect the city.
This was more than just a casual urban park; we saw many memorials that have important historical significance. We were impressed by the stately Castle Clinton, a military fort built in the early 19th century. From here, we also got a view of the Statue of Liberty in the distance.
3. Charging Bull Statue + Fearless Girl Statue
These were the Wall Street attractions that I was most excited to see! The Charging Bull is a bronze sculpture by Arturo Di Modica, an Italian-born American artist. He installed the statue following the 1987 stock market crash to symbolize the resilience of the American people. The bronze sculpture weighs a whooping 3200kg!
When we visited, there was already a crowd of people waiting around the bull to take pictures. We took many photos at the front and side of the statue. In addition, we also took photos at the rear of the statue, with our hands touching the bull’s genitals – this is supposed to bring you luck and wealth. Many tourists did the same, and it felt strange that no one seemed embarrassed by the fact that they were cupping their hands around bull genitals.
And of course, we had to take a picture with the Fearless Girl sculpture which “stares defiantly” at the Charging Bull. This statue was created by Kristen Visbal and installed in March 2017. It was sponsored by asset manager State Street Global Advisors as an advertisement for its new index fund.
I found this to be a well-crafted and pretty bronze sculpture. It has probably been imbued with more righteous metaphors and negative symbolism than it deserves. And luckily, unlike the Charging Bull, no one has come up with the idea of inappropriately touching the Fearless Girl statue for luck (yet).
4. Federal Hall National Memorial
The Federal Hall National Memorial is located very near the NYSE. It serves as a museum and national memorial to commemorate George Washington and the historic events of USA. The bronze statue in front of the building is George Washington. The memorial is open free to the public from 9am to 5pm on weekdays.
We didn’t tour the museum as we are not history buffs, and only took some photos of the facade. But it was interesting to know that the inauguration of George Washington (the first US president) took place at the Federal Hall.
5. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is responsible for managing the US financial system, and is one of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks. Since I was in Wall Street, I definitely had to check out this financial institution. The facility offers a free 45-minute tour on weekdays, and inside you will see a vault that stores 7,000 tons (yes you read that right) of shiny pure gold. Pretty cool!
6. Museum of American Finance
We walked past the Museum of American Finance, which is a good place to visit if you are interested in the history of America’s financial system. The museum also has a permanent exhibit of Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Secretary of the Treasury. He is commonly known as the founder of the US financial system.
7. National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum commemorates the victims who lost their lives in the 911 tragedy. We saw the victims’ names inscribed on the parapets around the two majestic man-made waterfalls. The memorial is located on the former site of the World Trade Twin Towers which collapsed during the attacks.
Even though I am not an American, it felt like I should at least visit the site to pay my respects to the victims who lost their lives on that tragic day. It felt surreal to stand there and watch the waters cascading down gracefully.
8. New York Stock Exchange
Being in Wall Street, I would be remiss not to check out the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). This is the world’s largest stock exchange! The beginning of the exchange can be traced back to 1792, when 24 stockbrokers signed the “Buttonwood Agreement” (so named because the signing took place under a buttonwood tree). This agreement eventually led to the formation of the NYSE.
After the 911 incident, the NYSE no longer offers public tours of its interior. However, it has a very impressive facade with six giant marble columns. As we visited during the Christmas period, there was a huge Christmas tree placed in front of the building. It was quite difficult to take a photo with the tall building, but I managed to do so by standing on top of a bench. Kudos to Raevian for being an awesome photographer!
I also took a photo with the actual entrance, which is a gold-framed door between two marble columns. It is located in a more low-profile location on the other side of the building.
There are various shopping spots in Wall Street, but Raevian’s favourite was definitely Century 21. Over here, we found many high end designer items at deeply discounted prices, such as BCBGMAXAZRIA, Gucci, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Prada, etc. Raevian enjoyed shopping here while I enjoyed repeatedly refreshing my Facebook feed while waiting.
Another option would be T.J. Maxx, located just beside NYSE. This is a decent department store, but the shopping experience at Century 21 was definitely better. This is because the variety of brands here was significantly less. The merchandise layout was quite messy too. However, we managed to find a few hidden gems using our adept rack-searching abilities.
10. St. Paul’s Chapel
We also visited St. Paul’s Chapel. It was built in 1766 and is the oldest church building in Manhattan. It is known as the “The Little Chapel That Stood” because it survived largely intact during the 911 attacks. This may have been due to protection by a century-old giant sycamore tree that stood in front of the church. The tree was knocked over, but its root has been preserved in a bronze sculpture on display in Connecticut. During the months that followed, the church stayed open around the clock for recovery workers working at the WTC site.
I had a surreal and educational experience here. We saw a large tribute banner from Oklahoma encouraging the rescue force. There were also many educational boards which explained the contribution of the chapel during the 911 incident. Walking around the church, I felt a strong sense of empathy for the victims of this tragic incident.
11. Stone Street Historic District
Stone Street is one of the oldest streets in New York City. The street was paved with cobblestones in 1658, hence giving rise to its name. Today, Stone Street and the surrounding area is known as the Stone Street Historic District. The streets are lined with vintage brick buildings that houses restaurants and bars. The area exudes an old-world charm which has largely been untouched due to deliberate urban planning.
We enjoyed walking in the cozy district to admire its vintage charm. We came here in the morning during winter so the street was very quiet; therefore Raevian was happy as she could take plenty of nice OOTD pictures. During warmer months, there will be long wooden tables on the street for outdoor dining, and the street will have a bustling vibe.
There are many dining options here, and we ate at Luke’s Lobster FiDi. We felt that the lobster rolls here are one of the best in New York City!
12. Trinity Church
The Trinity Church is a parish church in Manhattan with a history going back to 1696. During the 911 incident, the church served as a place of refuge and rest for the rescue force.
This magnificent Neo-Gothic masterpiece was designed by Richard Upjohn, a British architect who later became an American citizen. The interior is spectacular and designed in the Gothic Revival style as well. We stood inside the church for a few minutes just to admire the beautiful architecture.
Other landmarks worth seeing:
29 Broadway – Office building with pretty interior, designed in the Art Deco style.
Cunard Building – Located just beside Alexander Hamilton US Custom House. Has opulent vestibule with ornate images of marine life. Not open to public but you can try to go in discreetly.
Delmonico’s – Fine dining establishment that exudes gilded age opulent vibe. Located in the “56 Beaver Street” building which was built in 1920.
Fraunces Tavern – Historic museum and restaurant that served as headquarters for George Washington. Offers pub eats & live music on weekends.
Surrogate’s Courthouse – A Beaux Arts architectural masterpiece. Interior design was inspired by the Paris Opera House.
Woolworth Building – Beautiful Neo-Gothic architecture with opulent interior design. Public tours available.