2015 Vacation Destinations: The Financial District and Federal Hall, New York City

My son is in high school and social studies is not his strongest area generally.  It wasn’t my strongest area either when I was his age, so one of the things I attempt to accomplish on our vacations is to give him “hooks” to hang historical information on. To that end, after we finished the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island cruise, we went off in search of Federal Hall, the location (but not the building) where George Washington took his oath of office when he was president.  The first governmental offices of the United States government were located there, as well.  I found a public domain image of the original building that was on the site.

The Original Federal Hall
The original Federal Hall. This image is in the public domain and came from the Library of Congress archives.

Along the way, we talked about the financial district and the sorts of things that the firms there do. We passed the Charging Bull statue and discussed how the city put a barricade and an armed guard around the statue to protect it from the Occupy Wall Street protestors.

As we got closer to Federal Hall, I realized that Federal Hall is kitty-corner from the New York Stock Exchange building, so that was convenient.  As important as the NYSE is in our culture, I’m not sure I would have gone out of our way to see it, as we were exhausted by then.  We were able to drag a bit more walking out of ourselves by heading up towards Ground Zero (the directions we got from Google Maps were confusing and didn’t quite lead us to the right place, but we ended up pretty close), and then we headed toward the nearest subway station back to the hotel, which, as it turned out, was City Hall/Brooklyn Bridge.  I got a bit of a second wind when I was seized with a yearning to see if I could find the skylights for the old City Hall station.  We walked around City Hall once (they were doing construction of some sort, so I didn’t even get to see the cement pad that they put over the skylight) and off to the subway station we went.  I also got to see the Brooklyn Bridge, at a distance, for the first time in my life.

When we got back to our hotel, I told my son never to let me walk that far in one day again.  His response? “I tried.”  And he really did.  And we did do more walking that evening, once we recovered a bit.  There’s no point being as close to Times Square as we were in our Midtown hotel without exploring.  By the time we went to bed, we had walked 12.25 miles, which was a record for the nine months since I found the S Health app on my phone (more on that in a future post), and may well have been close to a lifetime record as well.

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