9. Gods and Sea Monsters

Float around the Financial District and admire the impressive architecture—and notice that everything seems to be always sitting in the shadows. Because there are so few wide-open public spaces down here in Lower Manhattan, building designers and architects often made the details on these facades extra bold in order to make them “pop” along the dark canyons. Many of these details recall a time when sea transportation and shipping were critical to the financial success of New York City.

The towers at the corner of Wall and Pearl Streets wear the brooches of ocean travel. The Seamen’s Bank for Savings was formed in 1829 as a sailors’ bank. Onto the exterior of its former headquarters at 74 Wall Street, built in 1926, you will find fantastic carvings of sharks, pelicans, sea monsters, and other living accouterments of the sea.

Across the street, over at 67 Wall Street, more bold mythological drama awaits: the whimsical faces of gods and goddesses, including Athena’s owl. (67 and 74 Wall Street)