For over 300 years, the seaport has been vital to New York's success as a port city. The South Street area in particular, however, fell into decline after the US Civil War when the Hudson River eclipsed the East River in accommodating large ships. Restoration of the area began in the 1960s, and now the area is home to a world-class maritime museum (it's actually the largest privately owned collection of historic vessels, in tonnage in the United States), as well as some of New York City's more unique views.
There's also a unique period mall with more than 100 stores, cafes and restaurants. If you're craving seafood with a Pan-Asian flair be sure to stop at Pacific Grill, which features a dazzling maritime-themed interior with blue glass mosaic tiles and a copper bar. A few blocks away, is Harrys at Hanover Square, a continental steakhouse that's as elegant as it is innovative.
In addition a small but thriving Neighborhood continues to grow and stake roots in a unique set of landmark protected buildings in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Most of these buildings date from the 19th century and give South Street a unique period feel unlike any other neighborhood in the city. Adding to the historic feel is nearby Battery Park. Encompassing 23 acres of waterfront parkland, it's one of New York's oldest public spaces. The park gets its name as it's where a "battery" of cannons was erected by the first Dutch settlers 1623 and to defend what was then called New Amsterdam. Since that time, the area has been known as "The Battery" and is why the Park is so named. And while we're on the subject of history the New York Post, one of the oldest papers in the country and founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1801 has a historic presence on South Street.
True history buffs however should definitely tour nearby Federal Hall, one of the most significant places in America's colonial history. After construction in 1700, it served as the seat of New York’s government; the Stamp Act Congress protesting "taxation without representation" was held here; the First Continental Congress and the infant US Congress met here; and George Washington was sworn in here as the first President of the United States in 1789. Sadly, however, the current building is not the original, which was torn down in 1812.
You can also take a tour of New York’s historic harbor and the nearby Statue of Liberty via water taxi straight from Pier 17. The iconic statue is an obvious must-see destination by land and by sea. Additionally frequent special events at night, including a free summer concert series also lend a festive atmosphere to the area. There's also the nearby Spiegeltent, a wondrous 1920’s venue of billowing velvet, stained glass, teak, and a thousand mirrors, which offers great array of concerts, comedy and cabaret shows. The seaport is also in very close proximity to Chinatown, so you should definitely check out the cozy ethnic neighborhood while you're in the area.
If you're looking to spend your stay in New York in this historic district, there are several notable hotels in the nearby area. Club Quarters Downtown, a superior first class hotel, is just a short walk away from the seaport. The hotel's Bull Run bar and restaurant is also popular after work and acclaimed for fine dining. The sophisticated Gild Hall is another posh option that borders both the Seaport and the historic Financial District. The Eurostars Wall Street Hotel a small, moderately-priced boutique accommodation is also another recommended option. And for those traveling with children there's always the family-friendly Hampton Inn.
South Street Seaport is located in the Financial District neighborhood of Manhattan. The financial hub of the United States, the seat of New York City government, and home to some of New York's oldest buildings, the Financial District has an illustrious history. 17th century settlers began building here, and given the many seafarers of the time, boats could be conveniently docked at one of the slips right near the settlements of wooden homes. Right nearby, in the heart of the district is Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States in 1789, also the meeting site for the First Congress. New York City was both the capital of the United States and New York State at the time. The street names reflect the district's fascinating history: Fulton Street, named after Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat; Maiden Lane, originally called Magde Platje in Dutch; Beaver Street, recalling the once-significant beaver pelt trade, etc. The area today houses some great economic powerhouses, including the headquarters of major banks, the New York Stock Exchange, in addition to the World Financial Center. Contrasts are extraordinary, from old two- and three-story old brick buildings near South Street Seaport to the nearby modern mega-skyscrapers. Some of the numerous other attractions include Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington bid farewell to his troops (also, they have a museum!); the newly-landscaped City Hall Park; the Museum of the American Indian and the US Custom House at Bowling Green; Trinity Church, the first parish church in New York City and the resting place of Alexander Hamilton and Robert Fulton, among others; War Of 1812 strong hold Castle Clinton; the Staten Island-bound South Ferry; Battery Park; and the Federal Reserve Bank. Sadly, the biggest attraction since 9/11 has been the former World Trade Center site, although, thankfully, construction has finally filled the long-standing gouge in Lower Manhattan's face, and the stunning 9/11 Memorial and its attendant museum are welcome signs of a healing city. And, of course, soaring a symbolic 1,776 feet over the memorial is the new 1 World Trade Center!