Throughout the 20th century, the Financial District became a ghost town after the stock market closed each day at 4 o’clock. Certainly, nobody lived there. But the neighborhood, now affectionately called FiDi, has undergone a remarkable transformation from a business district to a vibrant mixed-use community. FiDi is no longer just for the FIRE industries (Finance, Insurance & Real Estate). It’s become a culturally rich, 24-hour neighborhood with some of the best home values in town. Many residents say the Financial District now is the most exciting neighborhood in Manhattan!
There’s little question FiDi is the most historic neighborhood in New York City. Originally settled by the Dutch at the southernmost tip of Manhattan Island, the City of New Amsterdam was established in today’s Financial District in 1624. The British took over in 1664, and renamed it to New York, after the King’s brother, the Duke of York.
At the time of earliest settlement by Europeans, the northern boundary of city was Wall Street, where they literally built a wall. Because trading of every commodity occurred there, Wall Street became known as the center of commerce and remains so today. In the 21st century, the northern boundary of FiDi is considered to be Chambers Street and the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge. South, east and west boundaries, of course, are New York Harbor and the rivers.
Housing Opportunities in FiDi
Although FiDi still reigns as the financial capital of the world, it has also become a desirable residential area. In the new millennium, the estimated population of the neighborhood has more than quintupled. Even people who don’t work in the neighborhood are attracted by its excellent housing opportunities and easy commutes. FiDi now has improved transportation with the huge new Fulton Street transit hub, along with expanded ferries, water taxis, marinas, and helicopter terminals. Luxury retail has followed the progressive, affluent new residents into FiDi, notably at Brookfield Place, a huge indoor shopping mall at World Financial Center. Historic South Street Seaport, George Washington’s favorite Fraunces Tavern, and beautiful colonial Stone Street remain magnets for tourists and locals alike.
FiDi has unique housing opportunities for every resident’s taste, from the classically inclined to the avant-garde. Some of New York’s most beautiful buildings were constructed in the economic boom years of the 1920s, and many fine old offices have been converted into gracious homes. Sumptuous temples of industry erected by the wolves of Wall Street are now museum-quality apartments that retain historic grandeur along with new millennial features. Fine examples are The Crest, 30 Exchange Place and 116 John Street.
Tenants who enjoy sleek, mid-century modernism can enjoy the elegant restraint of converted high-rises like 90 Washington Street and 2 Gold Street. And those who appreciate a tasteful balance of classicism and unfettered artistry will go for Downtown by Philippe Starck, the original JP Morgan building renovated by the celebrated designer who is anything but traditional.
The Neighborhood of Architecture Landmarks
World renowned “starchitects” have contributed some of their best work to the FiDi cityscape, including: David Adjaye, 130 William Street; Rafael Viñoly, 125 Greenwich Street; Santiago Calatrava, Fulton Transit Hub and the Oculus; Andre Balazs, William Beaver House, and Frank Gehry, 8 Spruce Street, to name just a few. Tenants in FiDi have the opportunity to reside in works of art by some of the world’s most celebrated architectural leaders.
An unprecedented development downtown has been the creation of Battery Park City – a remarkable 92-acre man-made construction on the west of FiDi. Imagine adding a huge artificial extension to the island of Manhattan offering cultural, retail and business resources to FiDi residents!
Despite the exciting transformation FiDi has undergone, great home values still remain. Prices have generally not risen as quickly as the neighborhood has changed. With many residential options throughout FiDi, pricing is competitive, and many apartments are no-fee luxury rentals. Developers offer homes in every price range, from economical homes below $3000 per month to the Woolworth Building’s palace in the sky selling for $100 million!
If you want a unique home in a convenient location with plenty of parks, schools and local culture, FiDi is definitely a neighborhood that should not be overlooked. In fact, so many opportunities are available there that it is difficult to zero in on the perfect choice in terms of price, location, amenities, and style. Array Property Group’s agents have a special affection for Fidi and its wide range of homes and look forward to showing you around.