A walk down Wall Street

I had only vague plans of what I wanted to do after finishing the Trinity Church tour. Walk up to the Lower East Side and explore more of my adopted home? Walk down to Wagner Park and read while taking four million photos of the Statue? Walk the last section of the #GreatManhattanLoop that I did via bike earlier this summer?

The answer, unsurprisingly, ended up to be none of the above. I’ve been talking about exploring Lower Manhattan a lot and I decided when better to do it then when I was already down there. So I left the church yard and headed across Broadway and east on Wall Street. I had of course seen the Stock Exchange and Federal Hall previously, but never in day light. Come see the vampires of New York! Federal Hall was a miss (aside from a pair of crazy OWS protestors calling the reopening of the Statue the work of Communists) due to the Shutdown as it’s a National Park. Additionally, George Washington is behind scaffolding. What is it with our 18th century historic figures hiding behind scaffolding? The Stock Exchange, however, is phenomenal. I really had no idea how big the building was and I love its grandeur when compared with the more pedestrian American Stock Exchange building.

Intrigued by their Fed at 100 exhibit, I continued down Wall to the Museum of American Finance (48 Wall, former Bank of New York Building). Pleasant surprise: free admission. The exhibit is awesome and not just because I’m a ridiculous banking & economics nerd. It’s really well laid out and accessible to all segments of the population, no matter your level of comfort with the Fed. Plus it has figured of Hamilton and Burrr mid-duel. The museum’s shop is small but good, especially its collection of books.

Speaking of the Fed, I don’t know how many Money & Banking classes I took in school, yet I’d somehow never seen the New York Fed. I wasn’t even entirely sure where it was until I read the release for the Museum’s exhibit.

20 Pine, the Trump Building, Chase Manhattan Plaza and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
20 Pine, the Trump Building, Chase Manhattan Plaza and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

It’s a relatively unassuming building from the Liberty St. side with the only indication of what the building is a plaque on the southwestern corner, but from the Eastern side and Maiden Lane? I actually didn’t realize I was looking at the same building. If you think the NYC skyline is boring or the same throughout, I’d argue you’re really not looking. I love the architecture of the Fed and many of the buildings in this area and I definitely need to find time to explore it more. Ideally after I read a guidebook so I know what I’m looking at. I didn’t recognize the infamous 20 Pine in the photo above until someone mentioned it.

Random thoughts:

  • No. 37 Wall, now home to Tiffany’s has a fascinating history and I love the facade.
  • I had forgotten what a big deal (NYT, Metro) the Duane Reade at 40 Wall was when it opened. The space is still amazing even if the fare (aside from the stock ticker) is the same as all the new locations.
  • Love the Liberty Mural, but it too is a victim of scaffolding and you can’t get even remotely close.
  • The Chamber of Commerce building (and its history/current use) is intriguing and a fun read. The building itself looks like it’s a better fit up by City Hall rather than with the Wall Street area architecture.

openhousenewyork: Trinity Church

I adore openhousenewyork weekend. Last year, it was a Vertical Tour of St. John the Divine. This year I opted for a tour of the Trinity Church Bell Tower. For someone whose time at religious services is limited to weddings and funerals, I am fascinated by church architecture and could easily make a weekend of the church sites. ETA: I’m not the only one. I may need to think of that for 2014.

I got down to Trinity early (OK, on time, but that’s early in NYC weekend time) and had some time to explore the churchyard, including Trinity Root, which I’d only previously seen through the fence. (Yes, as was the case with St. John’s last year, I had no idea Trinity was generally open and operational.) The story behind the sculpture is a fascinating read and for a time until it was installed, the stump was on display in the Trinity Churchyard. I’m not sure how much of this article is true, but the survival of St. Paul’s in some ways mirrors the survival of NYC after 9/11. When I read My Manhattan, I first learned of the connection between Trinity and St. Paul’s, but the more I read, the more of its history St. Paul shares. That’s a living landmark that can never be lost.

Anyway, derail aside… Trinity Church is amazing in its own right. I was glad that last year’s scaffolding is gone and that the work, which included a cleaning, left the church cleaner than it has been in years. I really didn’t know much about church bells, but I was curious. Yep, curiosity, my main openhousenewyork driver. We were welcomed by David Grider, the principal architect behind the restoration of the belfry in 2007 before climbing (and I do mean climbing including a ship ladder and spiral stairs!) up to the ringing room for an explanation of the bells, ringing and some history. The shutter bug in me, however, was distracted.

View east down Wall Street from the window of the Trinity Church ringing room
View east down Wall Street from the window of the Trinity Church ringing room

While this tour didn’t feature the views that the St. John’s Vertical Tour did, this unexpected view east down Wall Street was amazing and awe inspiring. It’s the reason I decided to explore down that way later in the afternoon.

After the ringers explained the basics of ringing to us, they let us hear the bells in action. I’m not sure what I expected, but I didn’t expect it to be such an aerobic workout or one that featured people from all ages. The Trinity Church Ringers are lucky in that many international ringers come there to ring due to the legacy of the church and its bells. Here‘s a decent overview for those similarly confused with a focus on the how and why (PDF) behind “change ringing” and some amazing behind the scenes photos from one of the church’s ringers. Church Ringers, the ultimate Odd Job? Although I was somewhat surprised to learn that the ringers pay to  ring (PDF), but don’t appear to be paid by Trinity.

Our tour and lesson over, we descended to the sanctuary and I spent another hour or so exploring the sanctuary and churchyard. The cemetery there is only one of the three that Trinity has, but I found this one to be the most historic and “home” to the most interesting people. Although Alexander Hamilton is not currently on view, many others old and new are.

Unsurprisingly, I found the churchyard peaceful before heading east into the chaos that was Wall Street.