Downtown Alliance Proposes Top 10 Royal Experiences in Lower Manhattan

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Canyon of Heroes commemoration of Queen’s 1957 parade

The Queen of England is set to make a first visit to view the World Trade Center site since the attacks of nearly nine years ago on September 11, 2001, and after meeting with first responders there, Her Majesty is expected to attend the official opening of The British Garden at Hanover Square and later deliver remarks before the United Nations General Assembly.

“Lower Manhattan is fit for a Queen,” said Elizabeth H. Berger, President of the Downtown Alliance, the city’s largest Business Improvement District. “We are honored that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is coming to New York for the first time in nearly three and a half decades and will visit Lower Manhattan, so we have come up with an itinerary that will showcase the growth, vitality and diversity of one of our city’s fastest-growing communities.”

This is Queen Elizabeth II’s first visit to New York since the 1976 Bicentennial. Her Majesty will be accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip. (Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles visited the World Trade Center site in 2005; Prince Harry visited the site last year and laid a wreath there.)

And to mark this occasion, the Downtown Alliance has developed the ideal itinerary –- a Top 10 to-do list — so that Anglophiles everywhere can get a British taste of Lower Manhattan:

1. Canyon of Heroes. Mosey down the Canyon of Heroes, stopping along the way on Broadway to marvel at the granite strips commemorating the 204 ticker tape parades that have taken place there. Pause just north of Liberty Street (on the east side of Broadway) at strip No. 136, which memorialized the Queen’s earlier visit on October 21, 1957 with Prince Philip. (And, there were quite a few parades heralding British heroes, such as Adm. Lord David Beatty, Commander of the British and Allied fleets during World War I (No. 10); David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War I (No. 13); and, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II (No. 58). (En route, there’s Trinity Church, which was designed by British-born American architect Richard Upjohn.)

2. Stone Street dining. After a visit to The British Garden at Hanover Square, we recommend a stroll south along Stone Street, a narrow, cobblestone lane first developed by Dutch colonists in the 1600s. With its two neat rows of picturesque, (mostly) low-rise brick buildings dotted by zigzagging fire escapes and old-fashioned black lighting fixtures, Stone Street is a centuries-old pathway that recalls the ambience of 19th century New York. The Dutch West India Company first sold what’s now called the Stone Street Historic District to European property owners in the 1640s. It was originally called Hoogh Straet, but the name changed to Duke Street under British control to honor the Duke of York. In 1794, the name was changed to Stone Street.

If the temperature is still rising, one should pop into the Stone Street Tavern (85 Pearl Street) and take a sip of a Boddingtons Cream Ale. If hunger sets in, perhaps there’s time for some of the tavern’s fish and chips, chicken pot pie or shepherd’s pie.

3. Fraunces Tavern Museum. A brief, brisk walk away is Fraunces Tavern Museum, Manhattan’s only Museum of the American Revolution (54 Pearl Street). The tavern – built in 1719 – played a significant role in pre-Revolutionary War activities and later housed early U.S. government offices of the departments of War, Treasury and Foreign Affairs (today’s State Department). It’s best known as the site where Gen. George Washington bade farewell to officers of the Continental Army on December 4, 1783.

In 1904, the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York purchased the tavern, saving it from the wrecking ball. A restored Fraunces Tavern was opened to the public 113 years ago as a Museum and Restaurant. Fraunces Tavern was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. (The tavern is undergoing renovations now, but the museum – with eight galleries of exhibits on two floors –remains open.)

4. Castle Clinton. Then it’s off to Battery Park, where a stroll down the promenade will lead to Castle Clinton, which was originally built to stop a British invasion in 1812. It is now a national monument, and the place where the Downtown Alliance is hosting concerts throughout the summer as part of the River To River Festival. Catch a Statue Cruises ferry to Liberty Island to the Statue of Liberty.

5. Free Ride Around Downtown. So many things, so little time. Take advantage of the Downtown Connection, the Downtown Alliance’s free (and air conditioned!) bus service with 37 stops all over Lower Manhattan.

6. Luxury Shopping on Wall Street. Exiting the Downtown Connection at Wall Street, one should head west, stopping by Tiffany’s (37 Wall Street), one of the premier retailers in Lower Manhattan. Nearby is Thomas Pink (63 Wall Street), a clothing business launched in 1984 and named after an 18th century London tailor known for fashioning red (“pink”) hunting jackets. (If in a frugal mood, though, there’s always J&R or Century 21 just blocks away.)

7. High Tea in the Financial District. Just a few steps away (and yes, it’s a French establishment!), one can partake in an afternoon tea at La Maison du Chocolat (63 Wall Street). The boutique shop serves Earl Grey tea paired with a complimentary rocher noir (a praline enrobed with almonds and roasted hazelnuts covered in dark chocolate). And, if in a mood for a favorite English pastry – scones – well, Crumbs (87 Beaver Street) is just around the corner.

8. The South Street Seaport. At the South Street Seaport, drop by the vessel Wavertree, built in Southhampton, England in 1885 and one of the last large sailing ships built of wrought iron (and acquired by the South Street Seaport Museum in 1968).

9. Ale and Supper. Why not finish the day with a visit to an English-flavored pub, perhaps the Pound & Pence restaurant (55 Liberty Street) where it’s easy to imagine you’ve crossed the Pond? The menu – which marries the best of English traditional pub fare and contemporary American-influenced cuisine – includes shepherd’s pie, chicken pot pie, Guinness-battered shrimp and 10 brews on tap. The upstairs is modeled after an English club, with a fireplace, snooker table and leather club chairs. Or try Gild Hall’s Libertine (15 Gold Street), which has fish and chips and is modeled after a modern English tavern. New York Magazine said: “The leather-and-mahogany-bedecked Libertine is designed to evoke a swinging seventies-era London clubhouse.”

10. Corgi Care. Her Majesty’s beloved Corgis are well known but there’s something for dogs everywhere in Lower Manhattan. There’s Ciao Bow Wow (16 Beaver Street), The Salty Paw (38 Peck Slip), spot (21 Murray Street), and Petropolis (91 Washington Street).

And, if anyone should wander off the beaten path, there’s no need to worry. The Downtown Alliance has three visitor kiosks in Lower Manhattan, all loaded with information on what to do, where to go, and how to have fun. You can find them all at http://www.downtownny.com/discover/visitorservices/