Views from a Spring Day Walk in New York City

by Janis on April 24, 2017

View of One World Trade Center from the cemetery of St. Paul's ChapelWe spent a lovely day on Sunday walking around New York City. The sky was blue with bright sun, the temperature was comfortable, and the springtime ‘bloom’ was in full force.

Best of all, we learned some new things about New York, and got a significant amount of exercise, which helped justify all of the terrific food we consumed. Even though we took several subway rides, my FitBit showed that we walked 18,449 steps over 8.78 miles.

Bowling Green park, Financial District, New York CityIn Lower Manhattan, as we walked from the waterfront to the southern end of Broadway, we discovered Bowling Green Park. This small park in the Financial District was built in 1733, by the original New Amsterdam Dutch fort.

Bowling Green is New York City’s oldest public park and is surrounded by its original 18th-century fence.

tulips in Bowling Green park, Lower Manhattan Financial District, New York CityThe park originally included a bowling green — an area of short-clipped grass for lawn bowling. Today the park features a ring of gorgeous red tulips, and benches for taking a relaxing nature break in an area surrounded by high rise buildings of the Financial District.

'Fearless Girl' sculpture, Financial District, New York CityWhile the Bowling Green was peaceful, there were crowds of tourists surrounding the iconic “Charging Bull” sculpture just north of the park. The crowd was also checking out the recently-added “Fearless Girl” sculpture that is staring down the Wall Street bull.

This statue was installed in March, 2017 by State Street Global Advisors to celebrate and promote the firm’s “Gender Diversity Index” fund.  Originally given a one-week permit, Fearless Girl will remain in place through February, 2018.

We continued to walk up Broadway, a road that runs 13 miles from State Street at Bowling Green through Manhattan, then two miles through the Bronx, followed by 18 miles north through Yonkers, Dobbs Ferry and Tarrytown before terminating in Westchester County north of Sleepy Hollow.

cemetery outside Trinity Church Wall Street, New York City Broadway is the oldest north–south thoroughfare in New York City, dating to the first Dutch settlement. We were intrigued by the cemetery outside Trinity Church Wall Street. Alexander Hamilton is buried here, but the most imposing tomb is a fifteen-foot-high bronze sculpture of John Watts.  “Who was he?” we wondered.

John Watts Jr. was born in Manhattan in 1749. He was a lawyer and politician who represented New York in the U.S. House of Representatives, but he most-lasting legacy was that he founded and endowed the Leake and Watts Orphan House with the inheritance from distant relative and friend John G. Leake.  The effort continues today as Leake and Watts Services, a non-profit agency providing a range of services for New York City children and families.

One World Trade Center and St. Paul's Chapel, New York CityContinuing north up Broadway, we saw the juxtaposition of the old and the new: the One World Trade Center and St. Paul’s Chapel.  Rebuilt after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, One World Trade Center’s antenna/spire reaches 1,776 feet to symbolize the year when the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed.

St. Paul’s Chapel first opened in 1766 as a “chapel-of-ease” for those who did not want to walk on unpaved streets to Trinity Church. While the Great Fire of 1776 destroyed the first Trinity Church, St. Paul’s survived, thanks to residents dousing the building with water via a ‘bucket brigade.’ Many early New York residents made St. Paul’s their church home including George Washington. On April 30, 1789, after he took the oath of office, President George Washington attended services at St. Paul’s Chapel.

Though the World Trade Center buildings across the street were destroyed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there was no damage to St. Paul’s. “The little chapel that stood” became the relief ministry to rescue and recovery workers for nine months. Displays inside St. Paul’s detail how workers rested on the church benches during the intense recovery efforts.

St. Paul's Chapel and cemetery, Financial District, New York City In the cemetery behind St. Paul’s Chapel, the graves date to the 1700s. Signs explain the Chapel’s role throughout the city of New York’s history.

The Millenium Hilton hotel is across the street from St. Paul's Chapel cemetery in New York City near the World Trade CenterFrom the cemetery at St. Paul’s, we could see The Millenium Hilton hotel across the street. That triggered many 9/11 memories for us as we were scheduled to stay at this hotel in early October, 2011, before a cruise out of New York City. (The cruise was switched to a Boston departure; while we’ve since returned to New York City many times, we’ve never stayed at this hotel.)

We continued our exploration of New York through City Hall and various other points. Eventually, we returned to a favorite walking place in the city – the High Line Park.

The High Line, New York City While we loved the High Line when we first visited it in August, 2012, we found the April weather in New York City more ideal for enjoying this elevated walkway park.

The High Line Park, New York City Re-purposing of the abandoned, elevated railway into an urban park is such a lovely, brilliant idea. We love the High Line, where there is always something new or different to enjoy.

While our weekend in New York City went by too quickly, we’ve found these books to read before our next visit, so we can continue to explore while walking:

Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York

The Historical Atlas of New York City, Third Edition: A Visual Celebration of 400 Years of New York City’s History

The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City

Do you have a favorite park of New York City to explore? 

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Check out these other posts on exploring via a walk: 

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