Cash In With Wall Street On Your Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour!
It was probably the popularity of the 1987 film "Wall Street" which originally accounts for the lore of associations surrounding the financial district in New York City. Gordon Gecko, played masterfully by Michael Douglas, exudes cool confidence and acts like Wall Street royalty. Components of Gecko's character, like his expensive wardrobe, slick hair, and biting mantras about money all became inextricable from the Wall Street image. Driving through the area on a Hop-On Hop-Off tour bus one can still feel this type of image suffusing the streets and buildings. However, following the 2008 financial crash, Wall Street's national image lost its prestige in the wake of country wide outrage and disillusionment with the masters of cash. The Occupy Wall Street movement made the financial district as a physical area into a nationally televised arena, bringing a heightened counsciousness of the neighborhood to the country. Today, Wall Street and the rest of the financial district certainly seems less aloof and untouchable than it was before '08, but the area remains a respected and pivotal center not just for the nation's finances, but the entire world's. The area is considered to be the largest stock market exchange in the world, comprising the NASDAQ, The New York Mercantile Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and other essential pillars of national finances. With this significance, as well as many impressive sightseeing features, the financial district remains an indispensible part of any NYC touring experience, filled with essential New York sightseeing sites. The most iconic sightseeing attraction in the financial district is the famous sculpture of the Charging Bull. The Charging Bull is front and center right in the middle of Broadway. Originally installed as a piece of guerrilla art, the exhibition was so well received that it became welcomed as a permanent installation on the street. The Charging Bull represents the "Bull Market", or the power and vitality of a successful financial market. Every day thousands of sightseeing New York tourists take pictures with the Bull, making it the most popular attraction in the entire district. The Downtown Hop-On Hop-Off bus will drive right past it down Broadway on the way to Battery Park. The Bull became particularly publicized during the Occupy Wall Street movement, where the widely known association of the bull as a symbol of Wall Street was harnessed by protestors for their own agenda. For example, one popular image showed a dancer agily balancing on top of the bull, representing the movement's resistance against the seemingly indomitable force of Wall Street. The massive sculpure is 7,100 pounds and sixteen feet long, considerably larger than a real-life bull. The bull was created for three hundred and sixty thousand dollars following the stock market crash of 1978 to represent the financial optimism and continued power of the American exchanges. The artist, Arturo Di Modica, had the scupture smuggled into the area on December 15th and installed it beneath a christmas tree erected for the holidays. The act served to symbolize the sculpture as a gift to the American people in the wake of the financial downturn. Adrian Benepe, the New York City parks commissioner, said, "It's become one of the most visited, most photographed and perhaps most loved and recognized statues in the city of New York. I would say it's right up there with the Statue of Liberty." Another iconic sight in the area is the New York Stock Exchange, another site popularized by its repeated appearances in movies and television. The exchange is the site of the actual trading of stocks in the market, which means its notoriously busy and loud. Traders surrounded by screens jostle and yell to buy and sell in response to the movement of the markets. Every day the timeframe for trading is opened and closed by the ringing of a bell at the Stock Exchange. If you're around the at 5:00, Hop-Off the double decker tour bus and make sure to stick around long enough to hear the closing bell! Usually the Exchange gets celebrities, politicians, or other famous figures to symbolically close the market for the day. The Broad Street facade of the Exchange is an iconic style of tall pillars resembling a courthouse. Federal Hall offers a historic attraction for sightseers. The structure originally built on the site in 1700 served as the City Hall for New York City. At the time of the revolution, when New York City was the still the capital of the nation, the Hall was the nation's first capital building. As such, the location has been the site of many important historical events from that period, such as George Washington's first inauguration, as well as where the Bill of Rights was first introduced to the United States Congress. The original building was replaced by the current structure in 1842. Another historically significant site is the Trinity Church. Located at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway, the Church is an unmissable component of the neighborhood. First constructed in 1698, the church has remained active for over three hundred years of New York history. The Church has gone through a few important stages, and the current structure is the third incarnation of the Church on the same site. George Washington attended a Thankgiving celebration in the second erection of the Church after the first was destroyed in a fire in 1776. The tower of the church houses a set of 23 bells, which are rung before and after services on Sunday morning as well as on special occasions like 9/11 commemortations, weddings, and parades. The bells used to be rung far more frequently, but the encroachement of residences into the financial district, especially within the vicinity of the Church itself, precluded a more frequent ringing due to the heavy noise disturbance. The Graveyard beside the church is the burial site of many famous Americans from the revolutionary era and onward, such as Alexander Hamilton. The extended Hamilton and Schuyler family, including Elizabeth, Angelica, and Phillip, are also interred here. The financial district also includes some of the most famous and largest buildings in the city, many of which are essential sightseeing components of the iconic downtown Manhattan skyline. The World Trade Center is actually a part of the financial district, and the Freedom Tower at 1 World Trade Center is by far the tallest building in Manhattan, and the country, at 1,776 feet tall. The Freedom Tower remains the sixth tallest building in the world. The entire World Trade Center complex is certainly a site worth visiting, including the other buildings besides the Freedom Tower and the highly meaningful September Eleventh memorial. The memorial is visited by the President of the United States every year for the official commemoration. The Freedom Tower's 1,776 feet in height is of course symbolic of the year our nation officially became independant in 1776. The exterior of the building features a shining glass facade which is tinged blue, making it a spectacular sight when it reflects the sunlight. The spire of the Tower is a few hundred feet in height by itself, and used for a host of communication and broadcasting tasks from different parts of the tower. Whether the spire ought to be taken into account when registering the tower as the highest structure in the nation is a matter of contention. Without the spire, the Freedom tower would fall behind the Willis Tower in Chicago, whose rooftop rises past the Freedom Tower's by about a hundred feet. A hop-on hop-off bus tour takes riders past the Freedom Tower on West Street, getting as close as you can without actually going up and touching it. The tower is so tall that as you drive past you have to crane your head backwards to see the top as it soars skyward. So whether its for the cultural, financial, architectural, or historical importance, riders on a Hop-On Hop-Off tour bus should certainly check out the financial district as an essential New York sightseeing destination!