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April 2017
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Weekly Downtown Walking Tours Begin

Last Tuesday, our weekly Downtown walking tours kicked-off with an examination of the elegant Pentagram-designed model of Lower Manhattan (see below), then moved to the streets, where New York’s history is written in stone and metal. The dozen tour takers, including three college students studying preservation, two visitors from Vancouver, B.C. (previously unacquainted), and a recent retiree whose wife keeps their weekends too fully booked for walking tours, were joined by a visitor from out of town when she overheard tour leader Joe Svehlak’s commentary as he led participants into the Wall Street subway station to view the terra cotta artwork. She (the out of town visitor) had come Downtown to rehearse change-bell ringing at historic Trinity Church. At the corner of Wall and Broad streets, Joe pointed out the site of Washington’s first inauguration and its commemoration in the statue and plaque at Federal Hall, then turned the group’s attention to the handsome building just across the street. In 1920, a terrorist’s bomb went off outside the-then House of Morgan. The scars of the deadly shrapnel remain in the stone façade, a silent memorial to the 30 killed and 200 injured that September day. Unlikely juxtapositions are common Downtown, where remnants of our Dutch, English, and Revolutionary past rub up against the visual history of the last turbulent century.

Tour leader Joe Svehlak points out features on model at the Downtown Information Center

The tour ended at Bowling Green, which was a cattle market in Nieuw Amsterdam. In 1776, it was the site of a famous act of patriotic vandalism, when a two-ton gilded lead statue of King George III was toppled — and melted down into ammunition to use against the British. The 1773 cast iron fence remains, minus the crowns that used to top some of the posts. You can run your fingers over the rough places, where patriots lopped off the symbols of royal rule. Native New Yorkers and first-time visitors alike may be surprised by what they learn on their walk, so join us any Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at 55 Exchange Place (please bring photo identification).The Downtown Information Center is in Suite 401. No reservation necessary. Suggested donation of $10 per person. (Transit: #4, 5 train to Wall St. Walk South to Exchange Place and turn East). MAP