I have loved being back downtown for my workdays. Midtown with Central Park and the Lincoln Center crowd was fun but downtown is where I started. I moved to New York City in the early months of 1998 and was working downtown within 8 hours of my arrival. Next to the U.S. Custom House and then up to WTC2. So last year when I started at Sapient Global Markets on Fulton Street I was all a flutter of being back to my early stomping grounds. Lower manhattan wasn’t the same but than neither was I. It was busier and I was more (or less) grown up. I will be leaving Sapient next week and in these last few days I will try to think about what I will miss about working downtown.
No 1: THE COMMUTE
The East River Ferry was very good to me. Early monthly passes proclaimed it as “The Civilized Commute” and I very much agreed. The best start to my day was coffee on the tidal strait. Somehow I don’t think the G to the L to the N will be nearly as meditative.
No 2: HIDDEN GEMS
There is history all around. Sometimes hidden or obscured but still there waiting to be noticed. After you visit Trinity Church, Century21, or experience the memorial take a walk down a narrow street towards the water. Down John Street you might find one of my lunch spots sandwiched between two buildings. The slice of a courtyard features this replica of Joseph Beekman Smith’s View of John Street, 1768, (completed in the early 1990’s). The original, painted in 1768, is on display in the John Street United Methodist Church.
No 3: POWER CORNER
I always thought it was pretty cool that I worked on the exact spot where Edison built the first central power plant (Pearl Street Power Plant), formed the Edison Illuminating Company (financed by J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt family), and delivered electricity to homes and businesses across the city. Still makes me tingly all over.
No 4: THE FED
What can I say, I like the building! I really like it. Why? Well it looks like a neatly stacked pile of sofa cushions. I can’t not touch this building and so I always do. It’s strange because the architects, York and Sawyer, sought structural expressions of strength, stability and security. They intended to inspire public confidence in the Federal Reserve System through the architecture. It still looks like pillows to me. Also, I think its cool that 80 feet below street level is the largest gold repository in the world. Don’t get a bunion walking above the bullion.
No 5: PUBLIC ART
I have a soft spot for the public art downtown. From the late 1960’s we have Jean DuBuffet’s Four Tress and Noguchi’s Red Cube. Looking for something more recent? Walk over to 7WTC for Jenny Holzer and Jeff Koons.