Previously known for its financial significance, Lower Manhattan has undergone a period of regeneration. Abra Dunsby discovers the area’s new appeal for tourists
As arrivals go, it doesn’t get much fancier than my touchdown into Lower Manhattan by helicopter. I am whisked off the plane at JFK and ushered towards the helipad, where my shiny ride awaits. I squeal as we lurch upwards but nerves dissipate as I watch New York’s iconic skyline come into view.
We land in Lower Manhattan, famed for its gleaming office blocks. While the area’s financial ties might have deterred leisure tourists years ago, smart new residential developments, restaurants and shops have changed its appeal.
We’re staying in one of the area’s latest swish properties, the 189-room Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, which opened in September last year.
For clients staying in its Royal Suite, the helicopter ride is free, and other guests can book it via the concierge. One-way prices start from $895.
“Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Silverstein Properties were visionaries in that they were able to see the ‘new New York’ that was coming to life even a few years ago,” says Peter Humig, the hotel’s general manager.
The hotel is a block away from the World Trade Centre complex, where clients can see the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Two gaping holes where the towers once stood bear the names of those who died, and the water that gushes through drowns out the noise of the city.
Nearby is a testament to the city’s resilience: the One World Trade Centre, or The Freedom Tower. Clients can whizz 102 storeys up to the observatory level for views over NYC’s five boroughs.
Back on ground level, we’re taken on a tour of the area, revealing the extent to which Lower Manhattan has been regenerated since 9/11. The harbour area has
been smartened up, with cool warehouse-style shops and cafes, and a 23-mile waterfront route that’s ideal for cyclists.
Nearby Tribeca boasts excellent shopping, including a Century 21 outlet and the new Westfield World Trade Center mall, an architectural feat that resembles a winged bird’s skeleton and houses more than 150 shops.
We also walk through Wall Street, home to the Charging Bull statue in Bowling Green Park. It has been updated for 2017: a defiant girl now stands in the bull’s way, challenging male domination in finance.
It’s a fitting symbol for a part of the city that’s championing reinvention. Start spreading the news – this area of New York is worth knowing.