Part of Town

Beginning at Canal Street, its northernmost major thoroughfare, ending at The Battery (Park), on New York Harbor, the island’s southernmost tip, and extending from the Hudson to East Rivers, this was Manhattan’s earliest settlement site. It evolved as a worldwide port and became the municipal seat—simultaneously though briefly the nation’s capital— the city’s central business district, which continues as a vibrant financial hub, most always defined by its main artery, Broadway.

Although geographic preferences exist, Lower Manhattan neighborhoods meld into one another as the island continually narrows between its riverbanks, and with north-to-south two miles walking distances are short. The area, in fact, tapers without enough width for an east-to-west bus route. Plus, replacing the IRT overhead El lines, running north-to-south along Pearl and Greenwich Streets, virtually every present underground line wends its way to or through Lower Manhattan: and they interconnect. Scattered below the skyscrapers, the residential neighborhood portions, with a distinctive appeal, are:

  • Northeast—Chinatown runs from Centre Street east to The Bowery, and south between East Canal and Chambers Streets, including Foley Square Civic Center, and to the southeast at Chatham Square to (and along) East Broadway to Grand Street.
  • Central—Civic Center is the streets between Worth and Barclay, from Church to Park Row, and includes Federal Plaza, Foley Square, and New York City Hall Park.
  • Easterly—Waterfront, considered between the South Street Seaport, fans out along Pearl Street, and encompasses all the adjacent streets to Hanover Square.
  • South—The Financial District encompasses the entire portion south of New York City Hall to Battery Park, at New York Harbor, and spanning west of Broad Street— inclusive of Broadway, south of Liberty Street to the west, as (a truncated) Greenwich and Washington and to West Street.
  • Southwest—Battery Park City comprises everything west of West Street, running between Chambers Street, in the north, to Battery Park along the Hudson River.
  • Westerly—Tribeca, running north-to-south, extends west from West

Broadway to the Hudson River, spanning Vesey (not to be confused as Vestry) Street.

Vesey to West Canal Streets


Broadway, broad only by comparison to its contiguous constricted streets, has become the world-famous skyscraper Canyon of Heroes, surprisingly so considering modest beginnings. From a Native people walking path and (quite humble) Dutch country lane, dubbed BredeStraat or Wide Street, Broad Way grew as much by accident as design. Initially, New Amsterdam to the Lenape, a sharp and rocky place (Kapsee, in Munsee), comprised of six east-to-west dirt lanes which were Dock, Hill, Herr, Duke, Beaver, Church and The Single. As well as two wider north-to-south lanes, Broad Way, initiating from Fort Amsterdam, and Broad Lane, originating at the easterly harbor, both lead to a basic, heavy-plank stockade—the Wall. As the settlement increased considerably, these dismantled fences became Wall Street—then came Queen, next South, and finally Crowne Streets—until reaching the northward expansion extreme, Maiden Lane.

It was only natural to traverse the established land routes to and from New Amsterdam, and then out to other points on the island. The westerly path followed the North River (Shatemuc, for Algonquian-speakers) and its course led through the Hampstead and Greenwich hamlets. This route was preferred by the burghers over Broad Way: its extreme lower reach, Great Wagon Way (Heere Waege Weg, to the Dutch) ended abruptly at an acute, rocky hill protruding just above the Battery and blocking the harbor. The major Wiechquaesgeck or Mohican trail—a well-worn, mid-island, trade route for all the surrounding tribesmen—to Konaande Kongh, the midisland Lenape village. This way traced dense woods, skirted swamplands, and negotiated undulating rocky outcrops. The alternative, following the river trials beyond the farm hamlets, to reach the outposts and outwards settlements presented traversing those swamplands, then climbing soaring cliffs, all the while moving along in a crisscrossing fashion to interconnecting subordinate paths. The river provided the commonsensical transport for trade and otherwise.

The Dutch widened their New Amsterdam southern reaches to below Gentlemen’s Street, (Heere Straat), and later Bowling Green. This created a Broad Way, as a proper road straight into Fort Amsterdam. The sudden unwanted hill was leveled 150 years later, chiefly, as an easy northward extension beyond the city via Great George, and then to the Bloomingdale and Knightsbridge Roads, to the Albany Post Road. The first Broad Way building lots were laid out as the British took over the colony, it had been build-up from The Battery to the Wall with 21 buildings—by no means handsome wooden houses. There remained much more vacant lots and gardens. At that time, north to Maiden Lane opened as well, and a Broad Way-frontage boom added 65 (as humble) dwellings. (1664-1775) Even farther along northward, progress was confronted with the problematic Damen family homestead: Initially purchased by Augustyn Hermans, further complicating the situation was that he sold Jonas Bartelzen the orchard lands. Additionally, across the way, the Ryerse farm, with 308 feet on the Broad Way that ran down to the North River’s edge on parallel lines. The descendants of George Ryerson’s steadfastly held on to their block fronts, and with the adjacent church-owned burying grounds’ support, the heir’s successfully kept the properties intact for 60 years. Derision among the allies allowed the city to legally open their carefully collected Broad Way footage. Similar minor pushes northward occurred, and each was expected to be the last, even by conservative citizens.

Meanwhile, pavement had been laid from the Bowling Green to Trinity Church, at Wall Street. Five years later, it was continued as upper Broad Way, from Maiden Lane to the commons (The Vlack, or Flat, was a pasture sometimes called the Fields, and is present-day New York City Hall Park. This was considered the city’s extreme northern edge.) No pavement, though, was put down immediately. Three years later, the sidewalks between Murray and Vesey Streets were laid and paved. Fifty years following, a 1760 survey named this roadway portion Great George; and so, Broad Way had been build-up from Vesey to Duane Streets.

Arrangements were made to open the route for more than a mile, first by traversing the Harrison property end to end. Another protracted wait intervened, however. A settlement was reached. The Revolutionary War British occupation held up the northern continuation of Broad Way. At Vesey Street during the interim, the Park Row spur running along the common’s east boundary, and moving northeast to Chatham Square—the central horse market—was extended to Bowery Lane, which carried on north to the Boston High Road. This significant link and access reinforced Broad Way’s potential as an important thoroughfare. Finally, after 137 years of on-and-off-again progress, the roadway approached Canal Street. Here, grading as well as bridging Fresh Water Pond (subsequently Collect Pond, and then Foley Square) needed to be engineered. Once paved in cobblestones, with a stone arch bridge, the mid-island connection to Manhattan’s near-north. Although technically no longer Lower Manhattan, following along Broadway the remarkable New York retail shopping district was on the way to its destiny.

As the Elite’s Neighborhood


Government House on lower Broadway denied of its original Federal capital purpose and with the War of 1812 fire, any future usefulness was destroyed too. It disappeared completely to be succeeded by a row of private residences, which, for gorgeousness and luxury, were without a rival in the city. In the meantime, with these activities in the environs, the Broadway frontage came into its own for fashionable residences again. (Lower Broadway, near to the colonial Governor’s home, had been the pre-War of Independence important residential quarter.) The lots averaged about fifty feet in width extending to the Hudson River, which was nearer than today.

This small enclave became known as Bowling Green, as well as the adjoining Streets. This was the ultimate, the socially exclusive, the place in which “one,” as a citizen of import, would reside. Yet, for several years after their erection, the homes were without running water, requiring using the corner communal pump for their needs. Any nightlight was by candle, more than likely, wicks sticking up in a dish of whale oil; wood-burning stoves provided heat. Even without these basic, the houses were elaborate, employed the finest materials for construction and included imported furnishings. These homes were occupied by the city’s shipping and merchantelite clutch, among them the Beeckman and Schermerhorn, Murray and Peck families, and Stephen Whitney, now immensely wealthy from cornering the post-war cotton market.

A stylish early 17th-century residential district build-up alongside Pearl Street, and for one century, Hanover Square at Stone Street was the great merchant counting-house epicenter. (The West India Merchants House on the square, led to the company store on this, the colony’s only paved street.) Even established tradesmen maintained their stores adjoining, or, in their dwellings. Some were vast landowners, however, and already retained countryseats or manor houses a few miles away from the city, and they drove into town to do their business.

The southernmost mansion, at Pearl and Broad Streets—the only stillstanding, pre-Revolutionary War home—was the converted former Etienne de Lancey family town residence, Fraunces Tavern. On Pearl Street and Maiden

Lane was the city mayor’s residence, built in 1695 for Mayor Abraham de Peyster, an Amsterdam-born mercantile scion: Three stories high, with a balcony over its double door, the home was Washington’s headquarters for a short while; New York State Governor Clinton lived here, too. Next door, Nicholas and Anne (nee van Cortlandt) Bayard built a mansion on several lots, with several outhouses along Wall Street, at the East River’s edge.

Along Pearl Street, at the Queen and Cedar Streets intersection, owned by Mr. William Walton, and erected in 1752. It was the most opulent and nouveau riche of all, with fluted, classical column front door frame, topped by a broken pediment. An embellished (perhaps, the Walton coat of arms?) was affixed there too. The Walton’s extensive gardens ended at a summer bath- and boathouse on the river. East River coastline residences had a short life because of the settlement’s corporate needs—wharves, warehouses, welding shops and suchlike—whereas the island’s rockier west, near-southwest, and due south shorelines were far less accommodating. A concise timeline over the colony’s initial 200-or-so years, requiring East River landfill and instigated in response to increasing New York Harbor commerce is, as follows:

  • During the 50-year West Indies Company’s management, the slips lined the shoreline as far north as Wall Street, and then a slaughter district stretched to the New Slips, which ended above Maiden Lane.
  • During the 100-year British-colonial-era supervision, the wharf area added Front and South Streets, as well as street-ending Peck, Rodman, Murray Slips, to name three.
  • By the 1820s, with commercial shipping innovations, in the main, steamengine shipping through the Erie Canal. Thereafter, the East River’s port limits were pushed northward for miles, and rapidly at that.

Following the 1812 war, crosstown at Battery Park and Broadway, the corner lots was built as a substantial home for Captain Kennedy, the naval commander, and collector of the port. He replaced several small buildings owned by the era’s penultimate merchant prince, Abraham de Peyster (the first city mayor’s great-grandson). The influential captain’s lead was followed by the city’s first families; and, a number of the Knickerbocker merchants built their mansions nearby: the Rhinelanders, on the Williams Street corner, Robert Goelets, on State Street, and his brother, Peter, at No. 32 Broadway. In fact, a veritable who’s who is in the Landowner’s Digest, see pages 203-9 for further insights in Downtown East and West, as well as Lower Manhattan. (In fact, approximately every “first” family, at that time, also maintained an important Lower Manhattan town house.) The shady stretch reaching up from The Battery to Trinity Church (then, the Mall, later old Row), became “the” Sunday afternoon walk—even for families who moved their town residence as far northward as the fashionable Bleecker and Bond Streets. The Broadway enclave retained its aristocratic, residential character for the coming 30 years.

Broadway’s final leap as a residential boulevard, north of the churches and cemetery barrier, came just prior to rapid-fire and consequential events: recurring epidemics and fires. They decimated the middle-class residential lanes. Between Vesey and Barclay Streets leading citizens had built imposing houses, and these pioneering residents were infamous. The neighbors were, in one instance—Aaron Burr, when Vice President of the United States, he lived at No. 221, off the Vesey Street corner, (in a house seized by the State of New York.) The well-regarded nearby included, at No. 233 Broadway, Mayor Edward Livingston, who resided in a mansion owned and previously occupied by John Jacob Astor (J.J., to those close, or so I’m told), his wife, Sarah, and their brood.

At the time, a charmed merchant prince, Alexander Stewart, lived in the New York City Hall Park area too, to be close to his elegant Marble Palace, on Broadway and Reade Street. Stewart left an orphan at eight years old, arrived in Manhattan 12 years later, and soon accident had him set up as a shopkeeper—with the store’s rent on his hands. From an inferior alleyway off Broadway, with the 12-feet wide, street-facing, gable-end divided into two stores, Stewart went to work. In short order, his dry goods store was a success. Stewart did not attract the nearby fashionable elite, his stock and trade were customers with more mundane tastes. In time his merchandising know-how was legendary. Stewart was to be the city’s largest, most established (promoted by lavish daily newspaper advertisements), and the paramount Broadway department store merchant-prince.

The death knell tolled for Lower Manhattan as a residential neighborhood, and its rise to an exclusively commercial hub was at hand, with the early 19th-century epidemics, which naturally took their toll. When the city’s well fled to seek out healthier country air beyond the still marshes, fetid rivers, and contaminated wharf districts—those residents never returned in substantial numbers. Then, with the 1835 Great Fire line at Trinity Church, every residential street north, including around the only commons fell to commercial enterprise, too. Moreover, when the Broad Way overpassed Pump Street, the city’s near-north (specifically, present-day Broadway, and narrower Lafayette and Center Streets) was primed to blossom as the city’s premier retailing district.

And it did, indeed. Fashionable New Yorkers then preferred these drygoods providers—for their fabric and linen, household silver and jewelry stores, the dress- and boot-makers as well as hairdressers. Twenty years later, the former up-scale shopping district, running along Water, Front and South Streets to Hanover Square, was abandoned. The adjoining East River port activity took over. It evolved toward heavy industry with toxic waste, along with the entrenched colonial slaughtering activity already there. The few produce wholesalers and purveyors, who moved in, shortly joined Bear Market’s move to the new Hudson River, Washington Market.

There was no turning back after the 1837 panic and its lingering great slump. By razing his Broadway mansion as well as assembling the adjoining Broadway sites, Astor built the famous Park Hotel, later Astor House, which was among the first United States luxury hotels—with gaslight, and a bath and toilette on each floor. Of course, this was not the case for the northeast and swath beyond. The Lenape Werpoes village, its oyster shell repository along Pearl Street, at the East River, took in a Fresh Water resource as well. The Native’s community devolved into a Collect Pond for insect-ridden, toxic water, and then the area had to be drained. After several poorly executed landfills, the shoddy multiple-family housing eventually overran the nearby East River-facing commercial properties as well as the stylish Rutgers retail shopping enclave. There wasn’t a trace of the former grace and charm to be found. It was Five Points, the absolute worst and most notorious, slum district.


As Chinatown

Chinatown’s core, with its narrow streets—many lined with restaurants— remains much as it has for better than 100 years. There, there is a dense concentration of tenement apartment houses; many retain their original façade, all but a few pre-Tenement Acts of 1901, with meager public stairwells and hallways, remain. For the most part, these small apartment houses have been reconfigured from a railroad-style layout (accessing one room through another), or, into two- or one-room units. A good deal of the apartments still has an old-fashion water closet, (with an overhead pull-chain flush), a bathtub (on claw-shaped feet) in the kitchen, and one kitchen sink— used for all purposes.

There has been unprecedented growth creating greater Chinatown out of Five Points, which became traditional Chinatown. The neighborhood had been defined as East Canal Street to Foley Square, the Civic Center, and southeast to Chatham Square. Its boundary then spread along East Broadway, and stretching from Centre Street to The Bowery. A Greater Chinatown has grown to roughly two square miles. At the west, it includes Centre Street, and runs to the East River, with Kenmore to the north. This puts Delancey Street at the northeast, as well as engulfing the area east of Worth Street. The entirety radiates out from between the Williamsburg and Brooklyn Bridges. What’s more, here the real growth is what is up: the razed five-story buildings were replaced by a red-brick, 12-plus-story tower series.

It came about like this: Once the transcontinental railroad was complete in 1870, Chinese workers migrated to large cities, where the job opportunities were likely. So much so, by 1880, the Five Point slum district—beforehand mostly Irish-Americans—was home to a new ever-growing community. (Interestingly, in the late 1870s, soon after they moved to Manhattan, a few illegally smuggled workers found their way to a New Jersey laundry factory. It was this handful who sparked the Chinese hand laundry explosion.) Overall, the initial migration to Manhattan was contained at East Canal Street by the established Italian-American community, Little Italy, at the northwest. Nevertheless, once the Chinese community overflowed Five Points, the expansion flowed in every direction: along East Broadway—moving from The Bowery southeast to Grand Street—eventually displacing the established Jewish community who were pushed across the Williamsburg Bridge. By then, Greater Chinatown included almost the entire Lower East Side. Fifty years later, in 1968, the immigration quota was raised and Chinatown’s population exploded, obliterating any previous borders. With the mainland Chinese flooding in, Chinatown crossed into Little Italy, by buying buildings—turning tenements into garment factories, or mini-office buildings—but was then somewhat contained at Kenmare Street, by an evolving NoLita.

North Central

The Civic Center

Of course, the residential magnate is its centerpiece, an 1812 French Renaissance Revival New York City Hall, designed by Joseph Francois Mangin and John McComb Jr., and was begun in 1802. The park, initially a Common set aside by the first city mayor, Abraham de Peyser, is truly the Lower Manhattan neighborhoods’ epicenter. The initial tract is an irregular triangle, with the northern border encompassing Chambers Street’s south-facing block front. Its western boundary is Broadway. The eastern edge runs along Park Row and joins with Centre Street, and it is the primary Brooklyn Bridge combined ingress and egress ramp. And, to the north of Chambers Street’s Surrogate Courthouse and the Municipal Building, is Foley Square with the civic center Federal Plaza’s courthouse buildings.

Thirty years after an initial residential resurgence, even given New York

City Hall Park’s perimeters offer limited building sites, recently, numerous towering apartment houses have sprung up on the adjacent southeast and southwest, narrower Barclay and Nassau Streets. A crucial ingredient was the 1973 World Trade Center opening. Because of its sheer volume, after a yearlong occupancy was completed, throughout the New York City Hall Park area, the disturbing inventory of underutilized office spaces stood with few takers. A potential living space supply, which could be inexpensively converted to residential usage, led Manhattan’s real-estate developers to step in. They took over and promoted its residential appeal. Therefore, these bustling commercial streets and avenues surrounding the park are a hearty residential-usage buildings mix, set within the city’s civic district. Furthermore, on Broadway, Church Street and West Broadway, the loft and office buildings are primarily residential usage too, and the loft corridor continues north, above Chambers to Canal Streets.


Along The Waterfront

What you see is what you get. Yet, the East River shoreline is not what it once was. The Harbor area, the Canarsie Kapsee, with a seasonal village, Werpoes, sited atop the three-toed-sloth shaped rocky promontories. The juts were divided by creeks, each running southeast to the harbor. From Fresh Water Pond, a canal ran alongside Broad Street. Beginning with Governor-general Stuyvesant, this middle canal was further and further filled. The British continually encouraged merchants to fill in their slips—and when they did; they owned the newly created land. Pearl Street, four blocks inland, was no longer bordering Manhattan’s coastline. The easternmost avenues, which include Water, Front, and South Streets, were captured with landfill during the late British colonial days.

This was the city’s early 19th century fashionable retailing and elegant residential district. After 20 years with “the El” steel structures removed, the waterfront area remained as is— not improved and undeveloped. The initial stirrings of the residential revival began with the South Street Seaport Museum’s founding in 1967. It opened within the Schermerhorn Row counting houses (offices), which are situated on Fulton Street’s south side, across from the now-defunct Fulton Fish Market. In 1974, the State of New York purchased the 1811 row, which had been added to the National Register of Historical Places, as recently as 1971. The completed restoration project is the largest early 19th-century commercial building concentration in the city.

The dwelling types available around the seaport and along the avenues are quite varied, more so than might be assumed. They range from converted 1920s office buildings to the occasional 120-year-old, three-story commercial buildings, and on the crooked lanes are a handful of mid-19th century two- and three-story structures as well as a sprinkling of apartment house towers. Each residential building is obviously nestled among the skyscrapers as well as an important national monument. The residential enclaves that evolved East of Williams Street are:

 Park Row to the East River portion includes significant limestone-façade office-to-residential-usage buildings on endlessly crisscrossing lanes, such as Nassau, Ann, John, and Gold Streets to Maiden Lane.

 South Street Seaport area, with Front and South Streets, the 1700s landfill streets east of Water Street, as well as the north-to-south Avenues, and along the east-to-west cobblestone lanes, with such esteemed family names as Beekman and Fulton Streets, to the Brooklyn Bridge.

 Along the length of Water and Pearl Streets—taking in Maiden Lane, Pine, and Fletcher Streets—to Hanover Square’s convergence with South Williams and Stone Streets, has a unique historic character, enriched by Fraunces Tavern, which was headquarters for Revolutionary War loyalist and patriot espionage, often servicing both sides simultaneously.


Within the Financial District

Sadly, the Dutch and British colonial-era dwellings abutting the city’s commercial hub were destroyed by a series of disastrous fires beginning with the Revolutionary War British occupation. The few remaining residential structures (by then converted to commercial usage) were lost to the Great Fire of 1835, if not then, then it went up in smoke during the 1845 fire.

There are no new apartment houses. However, the residential buildings there were recaptured by urban trailblazing developers, and soon enough, some of the majestic office buildings were converted into multiple-family dwellings. With new residents, along with the teeming commercial building office workers, fancy food stores, world-renowned retailer’s branches, for instance, Tiffany & Co.—restaurants, even boutique hotels—are tucked here and there. Nearby on lower Broadway, the colonial churches, and classic-style or Federal government buildings are:

  • St. Paul’s Chapel, an example of the Georgian architectural style popular in the British colonies, enclosed by a 1760s iron fence;
  • Wall Street’s 1766, Trinity Church, with its cemetery, dubbed the Country Chapel;
  • Federal Hall, the original U.S. Custom House, at the intersection of Broad and Wall Streets, with an impressive marble-colonnaded entry and dome rotunda.


Man-made Battery Park City

The southwestern-most point, once a rock-lined coast, has been added into the Hudson River, relentlessly and then some. The landfill totality stretches from State to Chambers Streets, mostly with excavated rumble from World Trade Center. Additionally, it just begins on the west side of the West Side Highway, accessed by foot bridges. This is Manhattan’s sole urban-planned, mixed-usage, upper-middle-class residential community. The entire 92-acres are owned and operated by the Battery Park City Authority, with long-term, ground-lease development rights.

The complex began with a 1968 State legislated mandate, Battery Park City consists of a commercial office tower section, a retail mall along the Hudson River’s edge, an array of community buildings, such as schools, health and religious facilities, shopping areas, and several high- and low-rise residential areas—Rector and Battery Place as well as Gateway Plaza—scattered among the Parks Department landscaped grounds. They are co-owned apartment houses. Additionally, there is private harbor and public waterfront esplanade, the Museum of Jewish Heritage and Stuyvesant High School. A series of highrise apartment buildings is scheduled to open in the northern portion. Even with this expansion completed, Battery Park City will not be entirely buildout yet.


In and Of Tribeca

In colonial times, first, these were the Company Acres, then the Queen’s or

(depending) King’s Farm. Later, when referred to as the West Ward, Trinity Church controlled the acreage as parish districts granted by Queen Ann. Its tracts were leased out to be farmed—for carting fresh Hempstead hamlet produce, grown in the immediate near-north—to supply nearby city markets. By the early 1700s, this hamlet was a full-fledged suburban neighborhood, barely discernible from the settlement lanes; seamlessly incorporated within the city’s boundaries.

The city required an even better-organized food distribution system, and so, late in the 18th century, Bear Market was established on land donated by Trinity Church. It, too, was replaced by the 1813 Washington Market, nearer to the shoreline. As the harbor activity grew over 200 years, (initially, by dint of the Erie Canal), the small-scale warehouses were insufficient. They were replaced by a larger ferry terminal and wharf-side buildings devoted to import-and-export cargoes passing through the New York Harbor’s shipping lanes.

And, it came to be that one family, the Rhinelanders, dominated the western Lower Manhattan commercial tracts—in a like fashion to the Stuyvesant, Bayard and de Lancey clans’ control of vast Downtown East tracts. The pre-War of Independence William and Frederick Rhinelander sugar refinery continuously prospered, and when it had produced $100,000 or so, the Rhinelander brothers went into the shipping and commission business, first; and then, with fresh cash in hand, they began to accumulate Lower Manhattan land.

Adding to a valuable real-estate empire—Mrs. William Rhinelander, descended from the colonial brewer-“meister,” Antony Rutgers, had obtained a 70-acre grant nearby. The audacious brothers took a 99-year lease from the Trinity Corporation and King’s (Columbia) College, by which they possessed a district extending along Broadway and west to the riverbank, stretching from Barclay to Beach Streets—ostensibly, it was today’s Tribeca.

To the immediate north meanwhile, the Trinity Church-held land-leasedtract-farm parcels were combined in 1800, and St. John’s Chapel was built on Varick Street. The alternate church sides were turned into St. John’s Park, a private common (for residents, with a key to open the gate), which spurred residential development and attracted a rash of high-end residents, such as Alexander Hamilton and General Schuyler. Additionally, St. John’s Park hosted church events, like flooding parts in winter as a large public ice skating rink. By the mid-19th century, west Lower Manhattan (south-tonorth) was a sprawling port district, with imposing warehouses adjacent to the updated wharves, and with loft-style buildings lining the western avenues.

In addition, the Ninth Avenue IRT elevated railroad construction of St. John’s Freight Terminal, on the former park site, in 1867-68, furthered the evolution of the area into a freight distribution sector. Westernmost Canal Street, thereafter, remained the important industrial east-to-west ingress and egress between Manhattan and New Jersey—the shortest distance and most direct to mainland United States. The New York Central and Pennsylvania Rail Road’s needs complicated the already overburden situation, so the wrangling for a tunnel under the Hudson River began in 1906. Excavation started in 1920, and the tunnel was completed in 1927; moreover, the continuous traffic flow remains omnipresent.

In the early 20th century, the final oncoming industrial wave brought the printing industry into dominate the existing industrial spaces, but many were ordained to be converted within 60 years as the Tribeca signature residential loft buildings. Throughout the 1970s, beginning in the northwest quadrant, Lower Manhattan’s special Tribeca (TRIangle BElow CAnal) neighborhood— where Sixth Avenue (of the Americas) and West Broadway cross Lispenard and Walker Streets, witnessed a spectacular residential renaissance. Initially, the row houses just off the north-to-south avenues were retrofitted. Rapidly, every possible light-industry building was recaptured by urban trailblazers. Soon enough, the small-scale westerly Tribeca cobblestone streets and westerly avenues, with late 19th-century loft buildings, were converted into residential streets.

In addition, now, the western-edge avenues are dotted with modest-scale, new-construction, and condominium-co-ownership apartment houses. Knowing full and well the fate of St. John’s Park’s residential district, and having witnessed the surrounding mass demolishment of the existing longterm resident’s homes, quickly coalesced around preservation for the central commercial district, those streets build-out under the expired Rhinelander leases. Through these early-on efforts the Tribeca neighborhood remains (somewhat) ostensibly intact.

Additionally, the narrow Tribeca alleys and lanes are, as follows:

  • Collister Street, to Greenwich’s east and south of Laight Street;
  • Staple Street, a tiny lane running between Duane and Harrison Streets, at Hudson Street’s west;
  • St. Johns Lane, between West Canal and Beach Streets, to west of Sixth Avenue;
  • York Street, but a few feet long, spanning St. John’s Lane to Sixth Avenue, begins this diminutive southerly track from West Canal.