The main reason for starting Neighborhood Champions series was to introduce you to neighborhoods you may not have ever considered living in or venturing to. I think the Financial District (and SeaPort) is a perfect example of this. Meet Rachael, Champion of FiDi!
The Financial District of Lower Manhattan, also known as FiDi, is a neighborhood located on the southern tip of Manhattan island in New York City. It is bounded by the West Side Highway on the west, Chambers Street and City Hall Park on the north, Brooklyn Bridge on the northeast, the East River to the southeast, and The Battery on the south.
I met up with Rachael and we chatted all about the Financial District over coffee at the delicious, Hole in the Wall! She's lived in the area for 16 months, and has been in the city for 3 and a half years and moved there because she loves the water and the slightly more open areas, as opposed to the more closed in areas central to Manhattan.
Is it friendly for people new to the city (is it safe throughout the day and night)?
It's absolutely safe, if not THE safest area of the city. Because it's a bit further out of the way, generally the only people who are around are there to work or because they live there themselves, so I've never worried.
Why do you like (or dislike) living in the area?
I love all the coffee shops and the new restaurants that are popping up all over the place. There's lots to do but not many people know about it, so it feels like there's always something new going on.
If I had to pick something that I don't like, it would be the fact that after about 10 pm it really shuts down and there's very little night life. A few places stay open like the Seaport and Stone Street, but generally, people don't think of FiDi for going out late at night.
I want to change that though! It's such a great area, and I feel that if we get the people in the area, new bars would open and it would really become a more lively late-night space.
Would you say it was a cheaper neighborhood, an average-priced neighborhood, or an expensive neighborhood?
I'd say it was the cheaper end of average. The rent is cheaper than the West Village for sure, if not even the East Village too.
How would you describe a clichéd person living in the area and how do they live?
Primarily it's young professionals in studio apartments. There are also younger couples but there are very few older people around.
What is your favorite bar in the area to go with friends?
My favorite is probably Fish Market in Seaport. It's a divey bar that's run by an Asian family and the food is phenomenal. They also give away free Jameson shots! It's open until 4 am, but the best time to be there is a Thursday night around 9 pm to really see it at its most fun.
There's also Pier A if you're looking for the waterfront views. It's always such a young and fun crowd and is especially good at happy hour post-work.
Do you have a favorite spot to go alone or quietly with others (venue or not)?
Five & Dime is a coffee shop and bar set into a beautiful art deco space serving coffee and cocktails.
Outside of that, Battery Park City has lots of space to sit on the grass and watch the water. I've got my favorite willow tree to sit under and just enjoy an afternoon.
Do you have a favorite café or deli and what is your order?
I'm more of a café person and I love Black Fox. They make a fantastic cappuccino but it's not really a place to sit and eat.
If I am going to go to a deli (probably late at night) then I head towards the Seaport Deli which is open 24 hours and I'll get a quesadilla.
Actually, that reminds me, the strip on Fulton Street is perfect for late night snacks, there's a McDonald's, Papaya Dog, Little Italy Pizza, and the Seaport Deli, all open 24/7!
Out of 10 how would you rate the neighborhood for: Overall? Kids? Going Out? Quiet Living? Food? As a tourist?
Going out: 7 – but we're going to improve that
Quiet living: 8
Food: 8 – so many new options for restaurants
For Tourists: 10 – It has all the major landmarks
In a few words, how would you sum up the neighborhood?
Underrated, historic, foody
Anything else you’d like to add about the area?
With new high-end restaurants appearing all over the place like Manhatta and Crown Shy, along with long-time local favorites like Cowgirl SeaHorse (a Tex-Mex bar) it really is the perfect area if you don’t want to leave it in the weekends.
One other cool thing to mention is that FiDi even has a speakeasy cocktail bar called Alley Cat located in the basement of the Beekman Hotel. It turns into a fun crowd late-night on weekends!
The proximity to TriBeCa, the Lower East Side, and Chinatown is perfect. It's on the periphery of everything!
All About Neighborhood Champion, Rachael
How do you describe yourself in one sentence?
A laid back and ambitious publicist.
What is your favorite thing to do in the city (outside of your neighborhood)?
Eating or drinking outside is my favorite thing to do, no matter where!
Whether it’s City Vineyard or a beer garden in Astoria, I can't think of anything better (p.s. Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria seats like 2,000 people and is fantastic on a warm day).
Where do you call “home” and where are you “from”?
Home is the Sunshine Coast, but I'm from Wagga.
Now’s your chance to promote whatever you want (your business, your hobby, your cool idea, or something you love)
A friend and I have started a new Instagram account, @whatsup_downtown, to show off everything that's going on down here in the Financial District, check it out!
Rachael can be found at @rach_collins_ on Instagram, and is always happy to go out and explore the city!
From America Josh
I can't thank Rachael enough for taking the time out of her busy morning to meet with me.
FiDi is the PERFECT example of a slightly misunderstood and under-appreciated neighborhood that I want to show off with Neighborhood Champions!!
THANK YOU RACHAEL!
Introducing Neighborhood Champions!
Other Champions: Meet Nico from Cobble Hill, Meet Erin from Long Island City, Meet Rachael from FiDi/Seaport, Meet Edwina from Williamsburg, Meet Scott from Greenwich Village, Meet Josh of Alphabet City
Getting to know a neighborhood in New York is one of the most interesting and fun parts of living here. Building community, understanding the nuances of streets, bars, cafés, and cultures, and knowing what’s cool (and what’s not) makes you feel like you’re really part of the city. So, I want to hear about yours!
So. Are you my next Neighborhood Champion for your neighborhood? If so, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll arrange a time to meet!