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Lower Manhattan: A Thriving Neighborhood

By James Mckenzie. Photos by Paul Clemence.

New York City is one of my favorite cities in the United States. There is something about New York that energizes you with its skyscrapers, steam coming from the subways, seeing people from all over the world, and the diversity of history and cultures all converged in one island.

Recently, I had the chance to check out a part of the city that I had not been too familiar with- the Lower Manhattan area by Ground Zero. As we approach the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 events it was inspiring to see how the area has changed and the local businesses that are giving the neighborhood a new lively character. From high profile architecture to scrumptious food, great shopping and sweeping vistas of the city, there is plenty to do and see. Here are a few highlights of my explorations in the area:



The W Hotel: I decided to stay at the trendy W Hotel in Lower Manhattan that put me just a few blocks from all the attractions I wanted to discover. The W offered amazing views of Lower Manhattan, specially towards the World Trade Center and the September 11 Memorial. I loved sitting at my cushioned windowsill just staring at the impressive Freedom Tower. The room was small but comfortable enough, with an efficient design, and a very chic feel with cool red details.



La Parisienne Cafe: A great place to start the day! Located on Maiden Lane, just at a few blocks from the W, the charming café founded by French couple Julie and Adrian Bruyere offer a varied selection of French breakfast that includes salmon on brioche and delicious croissants to enjoy.  The décor is simple, but inviting, with colorful graphics and a Modern feel and the staff made sure all patrons where enjoying their breakfast. Given the place is “tres petit” in size I recommend using the waiting list feature from the Yelp App to make table reservations before heading there.



9/11 Memorial & Museum: The memorial park has become an important attraction in the city, a place where tourists from all over the world can gather and pay homage to the fallen that fateful day. But nine years later its opening, with the trees all grown now, the park has also become a welcomed island of green in the dense urban fabric of Lower Manhattan. The September 11 Museum is features artifacts and information related to the attacks presented in insightful, moving and thoughtful installations created by exhibit design firm Thinc.



One World Observatory: High up at the 102nd floor of the tallest building in America, the 360 degrees view of New York are simply unparalleled. In a city with so many other landmark high up observatories vying for your attention the ONEWTC quite literally rises above the competition. The elevator ride up is incredibly fast, but still enough time to showcases the history of the city’s growth in a very well done animation projected on the elevators side panels as it ascends.



The Oculus: After strolling the 911 Memorial Park I headed to the dazzling Oculus Mall, designed by celebrated Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The futuristic (an some argue overpriced) structure resembles a bird taking flight. Inside, the mall has more than 100 stores, including luxury brands such as Hugo Boss, Dior, Breitling and Mont Blanc. And, of course, an Apple megastore. (But if you are searching for bargains your best bet is to go across the street to Century 21, which always has amazing deals).



EATALY: The now iconic Italian food emporium and restaurants destination it’s a perfect place for a lunch break. It is hard not to marvel at all the offerings of what feels like a small town of gastronomic Italian delicacies and a variety lunch counters, gelato, and robust expresso coffee! Even harder is to resist taking home some samplings of the rich selection of pastas, pastries, and countless olive oil brands you can purchase after your meal.



Manhatta: Located on the heart of Lower Manhattan, on historic Liberty Street, at the 60th floor, the restaurant features epicurean creations by Chef Jason Pfeifer in an elegant décor surrounded by interesting vistas of the city that combine sprawling views interspersed with close up of the crowns of neighboring buildings. Whether savoring the exquisite cuisine or just having one of the bar’s specialty drinks, this is the perfect place to end the day.


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James Mckenzie is a world traveler, blogger and the founder of Paradise Digital Agency, a marketing company specialized in digital strategies for the travel and hospitality business. He is currently based in Washington, DC where he lives and works.





Paul Clemence is an award-winning photographer and writer exploring the cross sections of design, art and architecture. A published author, his volume Mies van der Rohe’s FARNSWORTH HOUSE remains to this day the most complete photo documentation of that iconic modern residential design, and a selection of these photos is part of the Mies van der Rohe Archives housed by MoMa, New York. He is widely published in arts, architecture and lifestyle magazines like Metropolis,ArchDaily, Architizer, Modern, Casa Vogue Brasil and others. Archi-Photo, aka Architecture Photography, his Facebook photo blog quickly became a photography and architecture community, with over 970,000 followers worldwide. An architect by training, Clemence is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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  1. […] at the prestigious Everett Potter’s Travel Report. Please click my article titled “Lower Manhattan Thriving Neighborhood” to see my cool pics in the area, with photography by Paul […]

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