I like the Municipal Building very much. The curved front with straight columns, vaults on the south side and ornate top are all very nice. My description is not doing it justice, though my photographs do... not that I can get them on line. Anyway, it's right across the street from City Hall.
Another building to see in that area, in fact right across the street too, is the Surrogates Court House. The external design is fantastic, but go inside and poke around. It's beautiful. It's a shame that the contractor that just renovated the building's bathrooms did such a shoddy job. Beautiful wood doors and marble dividers marred and poorly hung. Low bidder contracting is problematic. Alas.
The Brooklyn Bridge, which is right there too, is another must. There's a walkway/bikeway across and the view from it is very nice.
As far as gawking, don't sweat it. NYC is rather safe. Don't believe the hype.
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Last updated: 4 April 1999