The Ever-Changing Neighborhood of Tribeca

Tribeca is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, titled as an acronym formed from “Triangle Below Canal Street.” Tribeca is an upscale area in Manhattan that has been modified greatly throughout the years, giving it a great deal of history. It is also the home of the Tribeca Film Festival and many notorious celebrities. Robert De Niro is known to be a long-time resident of Tribeca, having been investing in the area since 1989. He also happens to be the co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, Tribeca Productions, and owner of The Greenwich Hotel, Nobu and Tribeca Grill; all located in Tribeca. 

Fifty years ago, however, Tribeca was not nearly all that it is today. It was originally an empty commercial space, but by the mid 1970s it blossomed into the homes of many young artists (who probably could not afford it by now). For fifteen years, there was an annual free walking tour through artist studios, showcasing the talent of Tribeca’s most creative. Although Tribeca suffered economically after 9/11, it recovered quite well and currently remains one of the most sought out and fashionable neighborhoods in New York City.


The biggest debate regarding Tribeca is where exactly the cutoff lies. The “triangle” that is Tribeca is considered to fall within the boundaries of Canal Street, the Hudson River, and Broadway. However, considering Tribeca is not exactly a triangle, but rather a trapezoid, it often leaves people wondering where is fourth border? At what point does Tribeca end and the Financial District begin? Many developments push the border as far as they can, hoping to be considered part of upscale Tribeca, as opposed to the Financial District. Some say the border is at Chambers Street, some say Vesey Street, so for now, it remains up for interpretation.


Although the Southern border lingers in the undecided category, there are certain areas of Tribeca that are not up for discussion. Tribeca has five historic districts, assigned in 1991 and 1992, with an extension having been assigned in 2002. Contrary to the belief that Tribeca was once a gritty neighborhood, many of New York’s most historic buildings and some of the world’s first iron-cast structures reside in that area. During Tribeca’s initial increase of notoriety, its residents believed the neighborhood to have historic and architectural value, and fought to preserve its character. The original proposition was to make Tribeca one large historic district, but the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission had agreed upon four separate districts: Tribeca North, Tribeca South, Tribeca East and Tribeca West. In 2002, parts of two blocks extending East off Broadway were added to the district, creating Tribeca South Extension. There is a continued campaign for the additional expansion of these five districts.