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View of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge

Lower Manhattan (or downtown Manhattan) is the southernmost part of the island of Manhattanmarker, the main island and center of business and government of the City of New Yorkmarker. Lower Manhattan or "downtown" is defined most commonly as the area delineated on the north by 14th Street, on the west by the Hudson River, on the east by the East Rivermarker, and on the south by New York Harbor (also known as Upper New York Baymarker). When referring specifically to the lower Manhattan business district and its immediate environs, the northern border is commonly designated by thoroughfares approximately a mile-and-a-half south of 14th Street and a mile north of the island's southern tip: Chambers Street from near the Hudson east to the Brooklyn Bridgemarker entrances and overpass. Two other major arteries are also sometimes identified as the northern border of "lower" or "downtown Manhattan": Canal Street, roughly half a mile north of Chambers Street, and 23rd Street, roughly half a mile north of 14th Street.

The lower Manhattan business district forms the core of the area below Chambers Street. It includes the Financial District—often referred to as Wall Streetmarker, after its primary artery—and the site of the World Trade Centermarker. At the island's southern tip is Battery Parkmarker; City Hallmarker is just to the north of the Financial District. Also south of Chambers Street are the planned community of Battery Park Citymarker and the South Street Seaportmarker historic area. The neighborhood of TriBeCamarker straddles Chambers on the west side; at the street's east end is the giant Manhattan Municipal Buildingmarker. North of Chambers and the Brooklyn Bridge and south of Canal Street lies most of New York's oldest Chinatownmarker neighborhood. Many court buildings and other government officesmarker are also located in this area. The Lower East Sidemarker neighborhood straddles Canal. North of Canal and south of 14th Street are the neighborhoods of SoHomarker, the Meatpacking Districtmarker, the West Villagemarker, Greenwich Villagemarker, Little Italy, Nolitamarker, and the East Villagemarker. Between 14th and 23rd streets are lower Chelseamarker, Union Squaremarker, the Flatiron District, Gramercy, and the large residential development Peter Cooper Village—Stuyvesant Townmarker.


Lower Manhattan skyline, 1931
Lower Manhattan skyline, 2008

The Dutch established the first European settlements in Manhattan, which were located at the lower end of the island. The first fort was built at the Batterymarker to protect New Netherland. In 1771, Bear Market was established along the Hudson shore on land donated by Trinity Church, and replaced by Washington Market in 1813. Washington Market was located between Barclay and Hubert Streets, and from Greenwich to West Street. The area remains one of the few parts of Manhattan where the street grid system is largely irregular. Throughout the early decades of the 1900s, the area experienced a construction boom, with major towers such as 40 Wall Streetmarker, the American International Buildingmarker, Woolworth Buildingmarker, and 20 Exchange Placemarker being erected.

In the 1950s, a few new buildings were constructed in lower Manhattan, including an 11-story building at 156 William Street in 1955. A 27-story office building at 20 Broad Street, a 12-story building at 80 Pine Street, a 26-story building at 123 William Street, and a few others were built in 1957. By the end of the decade, lower Manhattan had become economically depressed, in comparison with midtown Manhattan, which was booming. David Rockefeller spearheaded widespread urban renewal efforts in lower Manhattan, beginning with construction One Chase Manhattan Plazamarker, the new headquarters for his bank. He established the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association (DLMA) which drew up plans for broader revitalization of lower Manhattan, with the development of a world trade center at the heart of these plans. The original DLMA plans called for the "world trade center" to be built along the East Rivermarker, between Old Slip and Fulton Street. After negotiations with New Jerseymarker Governor Richard J. Hughes, the Port Authority decided to build the World Trade Centermarker on a site along the Hudson River and the West Side Highway, rather than the East River site.

Through much of its history, the area south of Chambers Street was mainly a commercial district, with a small population of residents—in 1960, it was home to about 4,000. Construction of Battery Park Citymarker, on landfill from construction of the World Trade Center, brought many new residents to the area. Gateway Plaza, the first Battery Park City development, was finished in 1983. The project's centerpiece, the World Financial Centermarker, consists of four luxury highrise towers. By the turn of the century, Battery Park City was mostly completed, with the exception of some ongoing construction on West Street. Around this time, lower Manhattan reached its highest population of business tenants and full-time residents.

Since the early twentieth century, lower Manhattan has been an important center for the arts and leisure activities. Greenwich Village was a locus of bohemian culture from the first decade of the century through the 1980s. Several of the city's leading jazz clubs are still located in Greenwich Village, which was also one of the primary bases of the American folk music revival of the 1960s. Many art galleries were located in SoHo between the 1970s and early 1990s; today, the downtown Manhattan gallery scene is centered in Chelsea. From the 1960s onward, lower Manhattan has been home to many alternative theater companies, constituting the heart of the Off-Off-Broadway community. Punk rock and its derivatives emerged in the mid-1970s largely at two venues: CBGBmarker on the Bowerymarker, the western edge of the East Village, and Max's Kansas Citymarker on Park Avenue South. At the same time, the area's surfeit of reappropriated industrial lofts played an integral role in the development and sustenance of the minimalist composition, free jazz, and disco/electronic dance music subcultures. The area's many nightclubs and bars—though mostly shorn of the freewheeling iconoclasm, pioneering spirit, and do-it-yourself mentality that characterized the pregentrification era—still draw patrons from throughout the city and the surrounding region. In the early twenty-first century, the Meatpacking District, once the sparsely populated province of after-hours BDSM clubs and transgendered prostitutes, gained a reputation as New York's trendiest neighborhood.

Historic sites

The most famous landmark in lower Manhattan is now the former World Trade Centermarker site. Before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers were major New York icons.

The area contains many old and historic building and sites, including Castle Gardenmarker, originally the fort Castle Clintonmarker, Bowling Greenmarker, the old United States Customs Housemarker, now the National Museum of the American Indianmarker, Federal Hallmarker, where George Washington was inaugurated as the first U.S. President, Fraunces Tavernmarker, New York City Hallmarker, the New York Stock Exchangemarker, renovated original mercantile buildings of the South Street Seaportmarker (and a modern tourist building), the Brooklyn Bridgemarker, South Ferry, embarkation point for the Staten Island Ferry and ferries to Liberty Islandmarker and Ellis Islandmarker, and Trinity Churchmarker. Lower Manhattan is home to some of New York City's most spectacular skyscrapers, including the Woolworth Buildingmarker, 40 Wall Streetmarker (also known as the Trump Building), the Standard Oil Building at 26 Broadwaymarker, and the American International Buildingmarker.

In fiction

In terms of atmosphere, Batman writer and editor Dennis O'Neil has said that, figuratively, "Batman's Gotham City is Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November."

Recovery and future

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, lower Manhattan lost much of its economy and office space. While the area's economy has rebounded significantly, as of February 2008, the enormous site once occupied by the World Trade Center site remains undeveloped. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation plans to rebuild downtown Manhattan, by adding new streets, buildings, and office space.

Defining downtown

Downtown in the context of Manhattan, and of New York City generally, has different meanings to different people, especially depending on where in the city they reside. Residents of the island or of The Bronxmarker generally speak of going "downtown" to refer to any southbound excursion to any Manhattan destination. A declaration that one is going to be "downtown" may indicate a plan to be anywhere south of 14th Street—the definition of downtown according to the city's official tourism marketing organization—or even 23rd Street. The full phrase downtown Manhattan may also refer more specifically to the area of Manhattan south of Canal Street. Within business-related contexts, many people use the term downtown Manhattan to refer only to the Financial District and the corporate offices in the immediate vicinity. For instance, the Business Improvement District managed by the Alliance for Downtown New York defines Downtown as South of Murray Street (essentially South of New York City Hallmarker), which includes the World Trade Centermarker area and the Financial District. The phrase lower Manhattan may apply to any of these definitions: the broader ones often if the speaker is discussing the area in relation to the rest of the city; more restrictive ones, again, if the focus is on business matters or on the early colonial and post-colonial history of the island.

As reflected in popular culture, "downtown" in Manhattan has historically represented a place where one could "forget all your troubles, forget all your cares, and go Downtown," as the lyrics of Petula Clark's 1964 hit "Downtown" celebrate. The protagonist of Billy Joel's 1983 hit "Uptown Girl" contrasts himself (a "downtown man") with the purportedly staid uptown world. Likewise, the chorus of Neil Young's 1995 single "Downtown" urges "Let's have a party, downtown all right."


Lower Manhattan is the fourth largest business district in the United States, after Midtown Manhattan, the Chicago Loopmarker, and Washington, D.C.marker, and will regain the title of 3rd after the completion of 1 World Trade Centermarker, also known as Freedom Tower.

The headquarters of AOL are located at 770 Broadway. The headquarters of Verizon Communications are located at 140 West Street. The headquarters of US Helicopter are in Lower Manhattan.

Prior to the September 11 attacks, One World Trade Centermarker served as the headquarters of Cantor Fitzgerald.


Higher education

Institutions of higher education in Manhattan south of 14th Street include:

Primary and secondary education

Public schools

The New York City Department of Education operates New York City's public schools. The northeastern corner of lower Manhattan is covered by New York City School District 1, whose northern border is 14th Street. The rest of the area lies within School District 2, which covers midtown and part of upper Manhattan as well. District 1 is served by over twenty elementary and middle schools. The district's high schools include: Public high schools in District 2 south of 14th Street include:

Private schools

Private schools in the area include:

Parochial schools

Parochial schools in the area include:

See also


External links

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