If you’re looking to beat the crowds that flock to iconic Midtown Manhattan areas like Times Square and Fifth Avenue without missing out on experiencing some of the unique New York City energy that comes from spending time in a hip, fashionable neighborhood, then you might want to think long and hard about heading toward Tribeca. This expensive enclave is home to acclaimed restaurants, unique stores, scenic views of the Hudson River, and quite a few famous New Yorkers. It’s a terrific area for strolling, people-watching, and having an unforgettable evening out on the town.
Tribeca Neighborhood History
The middle of the nineteenth century saw the area we know now as Tribeca transformed from farmland once under the control of colonial Dutch merchants into a working waterfront and prominent commercial center. Ships with goods of all types docked at piers along the Hudson River, and their wares were transferred to nearby warehouses and lofts. As its name would indicate, Washington Market Park stands today on the site of Washington Market, which was for a time over a century ago the linchpin of New York City’s wholesale produce industry.
Like so much of New York City, things began to change here in the middle of the twentieth century, when industry deserted Tribeca and those large warehouses and lofts, previously bustling sites of lively enterprise, began to sit idle and empty and deteriorate. Sure enough, it wasn’t long until artists moved into the area to take advantage of the high ceilings, wonderful natural light, and cheap rents—and from there it was only a matter of time before the area became a desirable real estate market, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
Tribeca manages to exist somehow as both a classic New York neighborhood and an area of Manhattan that feels a world apart from some of the more helter-skelter pockets of the city. As a result, one of the most enjoyable things you can do while in Tribeca is explore the neighborhood without feeling as though you have to rush from attraction to attraction. Window shop until something strikes your fancy, then savor a drink at a café before grabbing dinner at that bistro everyone’s talking about.
The Hudson River Park is one of the largest public green spaces in all of New York City, and a significant stretch of it runs along the western edge of Tribeca. This popular NYC Park is a lovely place to go for a walk, enjoy breathtaking views, play miniature golf, or rent a kayak—to name just a few of the activities available here. Within the Tribeca portion of the park you’ll find Pier 25. There you can let the kids scamper around a playground that features both climbing equipment and water fountains, enjoy a treat from the snack bar, play beach volleyball, and more.
While not technically located in Tribeca, just a few blocks south of the traditional boundaries of the neighborhood you’ll find One World Observatory. Situated near the top of New York’s tallest building (One World Trade Center), One World Observatory is a three-story viewing platform offering visitors stunning views of the city in all directions from over 100 floors above street level. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is located nearby, too.
The “Triangle Below Canal Street” is one of New York City’s ritziest neighborhoods. Tribeca sits along the Hudson River north of the Financial District. Chinatown is to its east, while SoHo and Hudson Square are to its north.
There are plenty of great spots to eat in Tribeca, so long as you make reservations in advance and come prepared to ignore your budget for the time being. Dining in style is one of the primary activities on offer in contemporary Tribeca, so find a restaurant or bar in the area that speaks to you and plan to make a night of it.
A quick rundown of some of the most notable establishments in Tribeca would have to include Tribeca Grill, the neighborhood institution that was co-founded in 1990 by legendary actor Robert De Niro; Brandy Library, an upscale pub with a staggering selection of high-end liquors; and the Michelin-star-winning Bâtard, whose eclectic modern European menu has something for every refined palate.
If you’re looking for less-expensive options in Tribeca, establishments that’ll impart some of that rapidly vanishing, old-school “downtown” charm, head to Nancy Whiskey Bar, where you can dominate the jukebox while playing shuffleboard; or seek out The Odeon, a symbol of New York’s decadent 1980s that’s still going strong today.
Tribeca’s shopping scene is probably best known for its assortment of upscale clothing stores and fashionable designer boutiques. The city blocks along main drags like Duane, Reade, Greenwich, and Harrison Streets are lined with trendy shops bearing the names of hot brands. Labels like Nili Lotan, Jenni Kayne, James Perse, 180 The Store, and many, many more have brick-and-mortar locations in the area.
Other popular Tribeca shopping destinations include Playing Mantis, an adorable toy-and-craft store for kids; the Mysterious Book Shop, a delightful bookstore devoted primarily to new and used books falling in the literary genres of crime and mystery; and Stella, the luxury home décor brand.
Explore Tribeca Like a Local
- Now entering its third decade of existence, the Tribeca Film Festival has become a global phenomenon, with tens of thousands of attendees each year catching scores of world premieres and well-curated panels of actors, directors, and movie-industry insiders. If you’re town at any point during this roughly two-week festival (which typically takes place in June), it’s worth checking out.
- Speaking of movies, fans of the Ghostbusters franchise won’t want to pass up the chance to be photographed in front of the historic Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8 fire station—better known as the building that served as the exterior imagery for the ghost-capturing heroes HQ. It’s located at 14 North Moore Street in Tribeca.