The Financial District, the square mile south of Chambers Street at the southern tip of Manhattan, was once synonymous only with work: a stronghold of finance, law and public bodies.
But 18 years on from 9/11 and the destruction that tore the district’s heart apart, new homes, shops and businesses are making for a more varied neighbourhood.
Following the 2001 terrorist attack, state and city authorities established the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation with a remit to “rebuild and revitalise” the area.
On the back of tax breaks and grant funding that encouraged investment in the area, today the Financial District has a growing population that is well educated and well paid.
The number of people living in the area more than doubled between 2000 and 2014 to 49,000. Current estimates put the population at 62,000, more than a third (37 per cent) of whom are millennials, aged 18-34.
The average household income is $228,000, while 85 per cent of residents are college-educated and 40 per cent to postgraduate level.
Financial services, along with insurance and real estate, still account for the lion’s share of employment in the Financial District, providing 28 per cent of jobs in 2018.
However, redevelopment has attracted a wider range of employers to the neighbourhood. New arrivals since 2014 include publishers Condé Nast and HarperCollins, and regional offices of Italian fashion brand Gucci and Swedish music-streaming service Spotify.
Increasing housing supply — almost 2,900 new homes are under construction in the Financial District — falling sales and tax changes mean local property prices are coming down.
Data from real estate company Douglas Elliman show the price per square foot of homes in the Financial District fell 3.6 per cent in the year to September to $1,239, compared with a 5.3 per cent fall to $1,524 for Manhattan as a whole.
New developments include the conversion of One Wall Street, a 50-storey office tower dating from 1931, into 566 condominiums, shops and a spa.
New leisure facilities
The Financial District’s changing face includes an influx of new shops, restaurants and entertainment options. The Westfield World Trade Center mall, which has more than 80 stores, opened in 2016, while high-end Japanese eatery Nobu moved into 195 Broadway, the former headquarters of AT&T and now home to HarperCollins and Gucci, in 2017.
More recent arrivals include Crown Shy, a seasonal restaurant run by celebrated chef James Kent. The Ronald O Perelman Performing Arts Center, a $390m venue that includes three theatres, is due to be completed by 2021.
The 25-acre waterfront Battery Park, which borders the district to the west and south, has gardens and an urban farm that produces organic vegetables. The SeaGlass Carousel incorporates 30 giant fibreglass fish for a modern twist on the traditional fairground staple.
The Water Street Corridor Streetscape Improvements Project is a $22.8m regeneration scheme to create two new tree-lined public plazas on the eastern side of the neighbourhood by 2021.