by: Nick Shannon
Lower Manhattan is the heart of NYC. It is where the city began, its financial powerhouse, and the home of many of the most iconic landmarks in the city. Truly a melting pot, Lower Manhattan brings people, ideas, buildings, and public space together in a dense and high energy experience that is easily accessible by bike. The entire neighborhood has been seriously revitalized, after years of slow moving post 9/11 development to accommodate for transportation and commercial spaces. East River Park is the perfect starting point for your next biking trip to see the most vibrant parts of the Big Apple.
INTERACTIVE MAP of Lower Manhattan
Explore this wonderful, interactive map provided by the Downtown Alliance. You can explore the restaurants, attractions, shopping, parks, parking, hotels, and nightlife of Lower Manhattan.
East River Park
Bike and Roll’s new location in East River Park is right next to the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, and the perfect location to begin your next Lower Manhattan exploration by bike! Pick up a bike rental and begin a relaxing ride with views of the East River and Brooklyn along the East River Promenade.
NYC is home to the second oldest Chinatown in the United States, a must-see if you are biking in Lower Manhattan. Make your way to Canal Street, the main street of Chinatown. Check out this self-guided tour of places you must see while you are there. It includes markets, historic buildings, tea shops, and restaurants that are top-rated. There are countless opportunities to bargain shop, eat, and enjoy the rich culture of the district.
Though it shouldn’t come as a surprise, there really was a wall on Wall Street! The Dutch settlers living in what was called New Amsterdam built it in 1652 to separate themselves from the threat of encroaching nature and the native people inhabiting Manhattan, the Lenapehoking. This is the term traditionally used to describe the tribes of Native Americans who inhabited the region now covered by Delaware, New Jersey and lower New York. In fact, the word Manhattan is a Dutch take on the Lenapeholking word for the island, Manna-Hata, meaning land of many hills. It worked until the British came and threw out the Dutch, renaming the city New York. It is now the epicenter of the city’s financial district.
The Dutch started by creating dirt paths to get from farm to farm, then the British paved the first roads that are now some of the oldest streets in America. You can now bike on these streets that have added bike lanes and experience one of the densest parts of the city.
Throughout most of lower Manhattan, you will feel the energy of New York City’s financial powerhouse in the financial district. Wall Street draws such a distinct crowd and it is fun to experience this quintessential NYC stereotype of people rushing around the street during lunch. Bike through the madness and see where NYC began.
Make your way Northwest to one of many Privately Owned Public Spaces in Lower Manhattan, Zuccotti Park- the center of the Occupy Wall Street movement. One of the more controversial public spaces, it is popular with local tourists and financial workers.
+ very shady from the trees and tall buildings, a great place to stop for a snack
Map of all NYC Bike Lanes
Use this Bike Lane Map to plan your route. It shows all of the bike lanes in NYC.
Elevated against the September 11 Memorial, Liberty Park is reminiscent of the High Line, the city’s first elevated park. Be sure to stop here on your way to the World Trade Center to enjoy the view of One World Trade and the complex of skyscrapers that define the area. It is also just nice to get above the ground to obtain a new perspective.
World Trade Center – 9/11 Memorial
The 9/11 Memorial captures the void of the Twin Towers in a sobering way that honors the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. A grid of Swamp White Oak trees occupies Ground Zero to create a memorable landscape experience. Today, it is situated in the middle of extensive new construction, with One World Trade Center at the core, holding the record of the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The whole area was heavily affected by the attacks, and has bounced back to create a new, stronger landscape that remembers the past while looking to the future.
Irish Hunger Memorial
Transport to a rural Irish landscape at this memorial that is a metaphor for the Irish Famine and reminder of the hunger issues we face today. Walk up the abandoned stone cottage to experience the stark contrast between the stone walls and plantings that are so different from the surrounding skyscrapers.
Pick up some chic designer clothes at Brookfield Place, or just do some window shopping and check out the art installation of inflated birds on the ceiling. Air Pressure by Studio F Minus is a flock of floating, moving birds that move their wings in response to the air pressure in the building. From here, you can take the Battery Park City Esplanade up the West Side to Battery Park City and Teardrop Park.
Keep making your way Northwest to Battery Park City, a mainly residential neighborhood that is flooded with parks, art, restaurants, playgrounds, and recreational opportunities. Bike along the Battery Park City Esplanade that runs up the Hudson River to visit the attractions. This is a great place to bike at sunset. Ride on the protected bike lanes and enjoy the view of the Hudson river.
Just north from Battery Park City, you will find the robust plantings, engaging topography, and irregular shapes that characterize Teardrop Park and maximize its location between apartment buildings. Walk next to the sweeping rock walls, take a ride down the huge slide, and relax on the lawns surrounded by wooded areas on your bike ride around Battery City. The perfect place to stop to get a glimpse of a designed natural environment.
Hop back on the Hudson River Greenway and head South to Battery Park, which was rapidly transformed after being hit hard during Hurricane Sandy. There are a lot of new features that have made the park a stronger, more designed landscape. The newly opened Battery Oval is a 90,000 square foot grass expanse that is the perfect place to relax on one of the floral chairs to enjoy the scenery during your bike ride around the area.
Battery Park is also at the perfect location to get out on the water. You can take a ferry to Staten Island, Ellis Island, Governors Island. And when you’re on the water, you get the best view of the Lower Manhattan skyline.
+ Connections to: Hudson River Greenway, East River Bikeway, Battery Park City Esplanade
Take a break on the water and cool off with the invigorating breeze. Watch the boats pass by and appreciate the immense density and human alteration that went into this one-of-a-kind landscape.
+ Ride the Seaglass Carousel
+ Take the IKEA Water Taxi to Red Hook and get amazing views of the waterfront
[Pier 11 to IKEA. Free on the weekends, $5 Mon-Fri]
+ Ride the Staten Island Ferry for free
+ Sail on the Clipper City, a replica of a historic lumber hauling ship through Manhattan by Sail
South Street Seaport
Close up your biking loop at the South Street Seaport, an exciting waterfront district that is home to a variety of unique events, like Good Beer 2016 on Thursday, July 28— a walk-around beer tasting and food pairing event from internationally acclaimed craft breweries, chefs and food artisans. Use the promo code, 643FIDIGUEST when purchasing your tickets to enjoy 30% off the price of general admission tickets.
[July 28 from 6-9 pm at 180 Maiden Lane]
After your day of exploring, drop your rental back off at East River Park and get a bite to eat with a discount from:
Get Low – Food Discounts
After biking all day, you will have worked up an appetite. Take advantage of the Get Low promotion through the Downtown Alliance to explore the delicious food offerings in the area. Sign up for GET LOW to get 20% off, a free appetizer or desert, or bogo drinks at participating restaurants in Lower Manhattan! This is the best way to try new food.
[after 4pm on Tuesdays between June 21-August 30, 2016]
+ eat delicious food with a discount
Why Bike Lower Manhattan?
Biking is a rapid, non-aggravating way to travel. You will often find yourself arriving at a destination faster than a car, or the subway, especially if it is a shorter distance. It is also enjoyable and one of the best ways to explore Lower Manhattan. In an area that is constantly changing with new construction, get here while you can to experience the excitement and bike your way through the vibrant street life.