I have heard several times that lower Manhattan is the oldest part of NYC, but I learned just how old this past weekend. I had no idea how rich this part of the city is with history, especially with places of interest centered around two famous presidents, Washington & Lincoln.
I took a walking tour through the Financial District all about Washington & the Revolution, and I was really impressed with the colonial history of my neighborhood. Walking through this concrete jungle day after day, I never would have guessed what happened here hundreds of years ago. In the 1600’s, this part of Manhattan was known as New Amsterdam, before the Brits came and renamed it New York. Wall Street was actually a wall, bordering the area when it was inhabited by the Dutch.
NYC was our first capital, with George Washington residing on Broadway near Bowling Green. He took oath as President on a balcony overlooking Wall Street. Pretty ironic, when you think of it, that Wall Street would come to represent the rise (and downfall, some might say) of our country.
The most interesting part of the tour happened just a few hundred feet from my apartment. I have walked by the Methodist Church on John Street a hundred times, but I never noticed the mural on the building next door, depicting what the street looked like in colonial times. A wide dirt road, spread-out colonial homes, women in bonnets and large skirts. Pretty amazing how different it looks now.
If you live in NYC, I would definitely recommend taking the time to learn about your neighborhood’s history, because chances are there’s plenty of it. It might make you stop and appreciate your surroundings a bit more during the morning commute– even just for a moment.
Today, as a joined the rat race and shuffled past the John Street church, I looked up at the mural. Just for a few seconds, I felt connected to a history much greater than my own.