An Instagram Tour of Lower Manhattan

There are so many iconic places in New York City to be photographed.  During a recent trip to New York, we decided to focus our time in lower Manhattan, a location we had not visited much with the children.  From the beautiful new World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the Oculus – to the South Street Seaport, and all in between, we saw some of the most iconic and well photographed places in downtown NYC.  Join us as we reflect as through photographs, we admire the beauty old and new, and reflect on the intense and sacred history of this area. 

The World Trade Center

The Oculus

Since we were going straight downtown, our group decided to drive to Newark, NJ and take the Path Train to the World Trade Center.  The World Trade Center stop, at the end of the line, sends you in the beautiful new transportation Center, affectionately known as The Oculus

A family group walking inside the Oculus

Inside, in a white as snow building are high end stores, eateries with specialties such as gourmet gelato and delicate macaroons.  And in the center is a large hall where you can look up and see the bones of the building. 

The white wings of the Oculus in front of the Freedom Tower

From the outside, the building has two rows of steel wing shaped tips reaching toward the sky.  The creator, Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava intended for it to resemble a dove leaving a child’s hand.  A dove, the symbol of peace, is a fitting tribute to the area that saw so much destruction. 

The Memorial Pools

A grandfather and his granddaughter walking along side The Oculus

We have always talked about 9/11 with my children.  Both my husband and I were in the New York Area when it happened, and we each have deep, emotional memories of that day.  We have not hid that, nor our emotions about it from our children.  But even though we have taken them to New York almost every year since they were children, we had never been to the Memorial Pools.  But it was finally time. 

A mom and her children overlooking the 9/11 Memorial Pools
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The footprint where the North and South Tower once stood are now deep pools.  Around the pools are the names of each person lost on that day.  It includes people lost at the Pentagon and on Flight 93.  It includes “And Her Unborn Child” next to every pregnant woman who perished.  There are flowers placed on the names if it’s the person’s birthday.  And family members still come and place flowers and flags to remember their loved ones.  It’s a solemn place, a place of remembrance. 

A crowd in front of the Survivor Tree at the World Trade Center

Near the pools you an also find the Survivor Tree.  Almost a month after the 9/11 attack, rescue and recovery workers pulled a Callery pear tree out of the rubble.  The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation nursed it back to health, and it was brought to the 9/11 site to sit near the memorial pools, as a symbol of strength and resilience. 

Wall Street

Bull

A woman grabbing the Charging Bull sculpture by the horns
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After our time at the World Trade Center, we walked up a bit to Broadway where we saw the Charging Bull of Wall Street.  Created as a response to 1987 Black Monday stock crash, it’s become a symbol of capitalism and the endless need of Wall Street.  There are two popular photos to take with the Bull:  Grabbing the bull by the horns and grabbing him by his…unmentionables… (hey, this is a family blog!).  We certainly grabbed him by his horns!  I will neither confirm nor deny if we took photos of the other pose…

Stock Trade

A woman in front of the New York Stock Exchange
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Just a block down from the Charging Bull is the New York Stock Exchange.  Known as the place where you see the bell ring each morning, or young 20-somethings running and trying to place trades on the stock floor.  As someone who has been in financial services world for 14+ years, I had taken a photo in front of the building. 

Fearless Girl

A woman and young girl along side the Fearless Girl Sculpture
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In front of the NYSE building was the famous Fearless Girl statue.  In 2017, an artist placed the statue of a young, brave girl, in front of the Charging Bull, showing determination and strength in the face of adversity.  It instantly became a feminist rallying cry heard around the world.  The artist who made the Charging Bull immediately got his delicate male feelings hurt because she became more popular.  He petitioned and won to have her moved.  So now she stares down Wall Street, ready to show people who’s boss. 

Seaport

Pier 17

A woman standing on top of Pier 17 looking at the Brooklyn Bridge

After having some fun near Wall Street, we decided to walk down to the water and to Pier 17.  Pier 17 once a historic pier, has been rebuilt to include a modern new space with food, drinks, art, retail, and entertainment.  There are fancy new restaurants, and a gorgeous area to sit outside and get drinks with a view.  But there is an area open to everyone that include a gorgeous view of the Brooklyn Bridge.  And while my stepsister and I enjoyed the view (and the Instagramable area), the kids at this point were tired and just wanted to sit. 

Seaport Historic District

The South Street Seaport Museum

As we walked back toward the train, we walked through the Seaport District.  A historic street laid out as it was in the 19th century, it now contains hipster bars, cute boutiques, and great outdoor seating areas to get a nice drink. 

Tips

  • Many of these beautiful places that are Instagram worthy, also have other people who want to take pictures there as well.  There is a line near the Bull to take these iconic photos.  If you see one, join it and wait your turn.  It’s rude to run in in front of people and say, “I just want one photo”.  Everyone is waiting patiently.  You can too. 
  • As you’re waiting in line, think about what pictures you want to take.  It’s okay to take a few.  But be quick about it and be ready.  Up front is not the time to decide what pictures you want to take.  There is a line behind you. 
A collection of photos of a group in front of the Charging Bull Sculpture
We got all these and more in about 2-3 minutes.
  • You don’t always have to take the posed picture facing forward.  Get creative.  Change up your expression.  Get creative with the angle.  All of that makes for a more interesting shot. 
  • There are lots of popular places to take photos, but there is surprising beauty everywhere, especially in New York.  Look up, there are so many old buildings, surprising parks, and beautiful places.
The Trinity Church Graveyard in Lower Manhattan
Beauty and history everywhere
  • Keep in mind how much the little legs with you can take.  We ended up walking about 5 miles in New York City.  And while that’s not a lot to some, for my kids whose activity level greatly declined during the pandemic, it was quite a struggle for them.  Make sure to work in some breaks, and maybe some motivational ice cream. 
A mom and two tired children in front of a Malibu Farm sign
Can you see the tired faces and forced smiles?*

At the end of the day, we were all exhausted, but enamored with lower Manhattan.  The children were profoundly touched by the 9/11 memorial.  We all had fun with the Charging Bull pictures.  I loved the fearless girl photos and how they turned out and I saw the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge.  It was fun to show the kids a different side of New York City, and to enjoy once again one of my favorite cities in the world, but in a new way. 

An Instagram Tour of Lower Manhattan

* Photos taken by Atma Photography

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