The neighborhood began as farmland, became residential in the early 19th century, then transitioned into a mercantile one centered on produce, dry goods, and textiles, before being colonized by artists and then actors, models, entrepreneurs and other celebrities. The neighborhood is home to the Tribeca Film Festival, which was created in response to the September 11 attacks, to reinvigorate the neighborhood and downtown after the destruction caused by the terrorist attacks.
The name was coined in the early 1970s and originally applied to the area bounded by Broadway and Canal, Lispenard, and Church Streets. which appears to be a triangle on city planning maps. Residents of this area formed the TriBeCa Artists' Co-op in filing legal documents connected to a 1973 zoning dispute. According to a local historian, the name was misconstrued by a newspaper reporter as applying to a much larger area, which is how it came to be the name of the current neighborhood.
Beginning in the 1840s and then continuing after the American Civil War, shipping in New York City – which then consisted only of Manhattan – shifted in large part from the East River and the area around South Street to the Hudson River, where the longer piers could more easily handle the larger ships which were then coming into use. In addition, the dredging of the sand bars which lay across the entrance to New York Harbor from the Atlantic Ocean made it easier for ship to navigate to the piers on the Hudson, rather than use the "back door" via the East River to the piers there. Later, the Hudson River piers also received freight via railroad cars ferried across the river from New Jersey.
The increased shipping encouraged the expansion of the Washington Market – a wholesale produce market which opened in 1813 as "Bear Market" – from the original market buildings to buildings throughout its neighborhood, taking over houses and warehouses to use for the storage of produce, including butter, cheese and eggs. In the mid-19th century, the neighborhood was the center of the dry goods and textile industries in the city, and St. John's Park was turned into a freight depot. Later, the area also featured fireworks outlets, pets stores, radios – which were clustered in a district which was displaced by the building of the World Trade Center – sporting goods, shoes, and church supplies.
Eventually, in the 20th century, after the construction of the Holland Tunnel from 1920 to 1927, and the transition of freight shipping from ships and railroads to trucks, the truck traffic generated by the market and other businesses caused considerable congestion in the area, which provoked the building between 1929 and 1951 of the Miller Highway, an elevated roadway which came to be called the West Side Highway, the purpose of which was to handle through automobile traffic, which thus did not have to deal with the truck congestion at street level. Because of a policy of "deferred maintenance", the elevated structure began to fall apart in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the highway was shut down in 1973. The roadway project planned to replace it, called Westway, was fought by neighborhood activists, and was eventually killed by environmental concerns. Instead, West Street was rebuilt to handle through traffic.
The produce market moved to Hunts Point in the Bronx in the 1960s, and the city put an urban renewal plan into effect which involved the demolition of many old buildings, with the intent of building high-rise residential towers, office buildings and schools. Some of these were constructed, including Independence Plaza in 1975 on Washington Street, the Borough of Manhattan Community College in 1980, and Washington Market Park in 1981. Some warehouse buildings were converted to residential use, and lofts began to be utilized by artists, who lived and worked in their spaces, a model which had been pioneered in nearby SoHo. In the early 1970s, a couple of years after artists in SoHo were able to legalize their live/work situation, artist and resident organizations in the area to the south, known then as "Washington Market" or the "Lower West Side", sought to gain similar zoning status for their neighborhood. One of the neighborhood groups called themselves the "Triangle Below Canal Block Association", and, as activists had done in SoHo, shortened the group’s name to the Tribeca Block Association. The Tribeca name came to be applied to the area south of Canal Street, between Broadway and West Street, extending south to – as variously defined – Chambers, Vesey, or Murray Street.
Map of Tribeca (excluding the portion south of Chambers Street) and major parks and transit connections.
Several streets in the area are named after Anthony Lispenard Bleecker and the Lispenard family. Beach Street was created in the late 18th century and was the first street on or adjacent to the farm of Anthony Lispenard Bleecker, which was just south of what is now Canal Street; the name of the street is a corruption of the name of Paul Bache, a son-in-law of Anthony Lispenard. Lispenard Street in Tribeca is named for the Lispenard family, and Bleecker Street in NoHo was named for Anthony Lispenard Bleecker.
By the mid-19th century the area transformed into a commercial center, with large numbers of store and loft buildings constructed along Broadway in the 1850s and 1860s. Development in the area was spurred by New York City Subway construction, namely the extension of the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line (today's 1, 2, and 3 trains), which opened for service in 1918, and the accompanying extension of Seventh Avenue and the widening of Varick Street during subway construction in 1914, both of resulted in better access to the area for vehicles and for subway riders. The area was also served by the IRT Ninth Avenue Line, an elevated train line on Greenwich Street demolished in 1940. However, by the 1960s, Tribeca's industrial base had all but vanished, and the predominance of empty commercial space attracted many artists to the area in the 1970s. Since the 1980s, large scale conversion of the area has transformed Tribeca into an upscale residential area.
In 1996, the Tribeca Open Artist Studio Tour was founded as a non-profit, artist-run organization with the mission to empower the working artists of Tribeca while providing an educational opportunity for the public. For 15 years, the annual free walking tour through artist studios in Tribeca has allowed people to get a unique glimpse into the lives of Tribeca's best creative talent. Tribeca suffered both physically and financially after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but government grants and incentives helped the area rebound fairly quickly. The Tribeca Film Festival was established to help contribute to the long-term recovery of lower Manhattan after 9/11. The festival also celebrates New York City as a major filmmaking center. The mission of the film festival is "to enable the international film community and the general public to experience the power of film by redefining the film festival experience." Tribeca is a popular filming location for movies and television shows.
By the early 21st century, Tribeca became one of Manhattan's most fashionable and desirable neighborhoods, well known for its celebrity residents. Its streets teem with art galleries, boutique shops, restaurants, and bars. In 2006, Forbes magazine ranked its 10013 zip code as New York City's most expensive (however, the adjacent, low-income neighborhood of Chinatown, also uses the 10013 zip code). As of 2010[update], Tribeca was the safest neighborhood in New York City, according to NYPD and CompStat statistics.
For census purposes, the New York City government classifies Tribeca as part of a larger neighborhood tabulation area called SoHo-TriBeCa-Civic Center-Little Italy. Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of SoHo-TriBeCa-Civic Center-Little Italy was 42,742, a change of 5,985 (14%) from the 36,757 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 581.62 acres (235.37 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 73.5 inhabitants per acre (47,000/sq mi; 18,200/km2). The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 66.1% (28,250) White, 2.2% (934) African American, 0.1% (30) Native American, 22.2% (9,478) Asian, 0% (11) Pacific Islander, 0.4% (171) from other races, and 2.6% (1,098) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.5% (2,770) of the population.
The entirety of Community District 1, which comprises Tribeca and other Lower Manhattan neighborhoods, had 63,383 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 85.8 years.:2, 20 This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.:53 (PDF p. 84) Most inhabitants are young to middle-aged adults: half (50%) are between the ages of 25–44, while 14% are between 0–17, and 18% between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 11% and 7% respectively.:2
As of 2017, the median household income in Community Districts 1 and 2 (including Greenwich Village and SoHo) was $144,878, though the median income in Battery Park City individually was $126,771. In 2018, an estimated 9% of Tribeca and Lower Manhattan residents lived in poverty, compared to 14% in all of Manhattan and 20% in all of New York City. One in twenty-five residents (4%) were unemployed, compared to 7% in Manhattan and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 38% in Tribeca and Lower Manhattan, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 45% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018[update], Tribeca and Lower Manhattan are considered high-income relative to the rest of the city and not gentrifying.:7
Tribeca is dominated by former industrial buildings that have been converted into residential buildings and lofts, similar to those of the neighboring SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the neighborhood was a center of the textile/cotton trade.
During the late 1960s and '70s, abandoned and inexpensive Tribeca lofts became hot-spot residences for young artists and their families because of the seclusion of lower Manhattan and the vast living space. Jim Stratton, a Tribeca resident since this period, wrote the 1977 nonfiction book entitled Pioneering in the Urban Wilderness, detailing his experiences renovating lower Manhattan warehouses into residences.
New York Law School, a private, independent law school, was founded in 1891, and has been located in several buildings in Tribeca since 1962, principally along Worth Street between Church Street and West Broadway.
Tribeca South Extension – designated November 19, 2002
Police and crime
Tribeca and Lower Manhattan are patrolled by the 1st Precinct of the NYPD, located at 16 Ericsson Place. The 1st Precinct ranked 63rd safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. Though the number of crimes is low compared to other NYPD precincts, the residential population is also much lower. With a non-fatal assault rate of 24 per 100,000 people, Tribeca and Lower Manhattan's rate of violent crimes per capita is less than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 152 per 100,000 people is lower than that of the city as a whole.:8
The 1st Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 86.3% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct saw 1 murder, 23 rapes, 80 robberies, 61 felony assaults, 85 burglaries, 1,085 grand larcenies, and 21 grand larcenies auto in 2018.
Preterm and teenage births are less common in Tribeca and Lower Manhattan than in other places citywide. In Tribeca and Lower Manhattan, there were 77 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 2.2 teenage births per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide), though the teenage birth rate is based on a small sample size.:11 Tribeca and Lower Manhattan have a low population of residents who are uninsured. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 4%, less than the citywide rate of 12%, though this was based on a small sample size.:14
The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in Tribeca and Lower Manhattan is 0.0096 milligrams per cubic metre (9.6×10−9 oz/cu ft), more than the city average.:9 Sixteen percent of Tribeca and Lower Manhattan residents are smokers, which is more than the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.:13 In Tribeca and Lower Manhattan, 4% of residents are obese, 3% are diabetic, and 15% have high blood pressure, the lowest rates in the city—compared to the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively.:16 In addition, 5% of children are obese, the lowest rate in the city, compared to the citywide average of 20%.:12
Ninety-six percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is more than the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 88% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," more than the city's average of 78%.:13 For every supermarket in Tribeca and Lower Manhattan, there are 6 bodegas.:10
Tribeca and Lower Manhattan generally have a higher rate of college-educated residents than the rest of the city. The vast majority of residents age 25 and older (84%) have a college education or higher, while 4% have less than a high school education and 12% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 64% of Manhattan residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher.:6 The percentage of Tribeca and Lower Manhattan students excelling in math rose from 61% in 2000 to 80% in 2011, and reading achievement increased from 66% to 68% during the same time period.
Tribeca and Lower Manhattan's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is lower than the rest of New York City. In Tribeca and Lower Manhattan, 6% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, less than the citywide average of 20%.:24 (PDF p. 55):6 Additionally, 96% of high school students in Tribeca and Lower Manhattan graduate on time, more than the citywide average of 75%.:6
The New York Public Library (NYPL) operates two branches nearby. The New Amsterdam branch is located at 9 Murray Street near Broadway. It was established on the ground floor of an office building in 1989. The Battery Park City branch is located at 175 North End Avenue near Murray Street. Completed in 2010, the two-story branch is NYPL's first LEED-certified branch.
^Staff. "Arman, 76, Tribeca artist whose medium was garbage", The Villager (Manhattan), Volume 75, Number 23; October 26 - November 1, 2005. Accessed April 30, 2017. "Arman, the sculptor internationally famous for combining found objects and all kinds of junk and who had a home and studio in Tribeca and an outdoor metal studio on Canal Street for 27 years, died at home Sat. Oct. 22 at the age of 76."
^ abSmith, Steve. "An Opera Full of Secrets From a Master of the Opaque", The New York Times, January 14, 2007. Accessed April 30, 2017. "Seated in the kitchen of his TriBeCa rehearsal studio, which occupies an entire floor of the converted warehouse where he and his partner, Mimi Johnson, have lived since 1979, Mr. Ashley, 76, recounted how a friend had once revealed a sordid past."
^ abDavid, Amrk. "Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly On the Move Again", Variety (magazine), January 14, 2012. Accessed July 19, 2016. "It was only about 3.5 years ago that English-born movie actor Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, A Knight's Tale) and Brooklyn-bred Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Requiem For A Dream, Blood Diamond) paid $6,920,000 for a full floor loft-type penthouse apartment on the edge of New York City’s star-stocked TriBeCa neighborhood."
^ abStaff. "In the News: Inside Beyoncé and Jay Z’s Apartment", Tribeca Citizen, November 26, 2014. Accessed April 30, 2017. "Internet mavens have identified two artworks in the video for Beyoncé’s new single 7/11, which was filmed inside the Tribeca apartment the R&B superstar shares with her husband."
^Mason, Christopher. "At Home With: Ross Bleckner", The New York Times, December 10, 1998. Accessed December 10, 2017. "An avowed recluse who resists forays north of Union Square, Mr. Bleckner was the host of a benefit for Community Research Initiative on AIDS last week in the minimalist Xanadu that is his home, a former loft building that he owns in TriBeCa."
^Richards, David. "Bogosian in the Burbs", The Washington Post, May 5, 1996. Accessed July 19, 2016. "Yet all the signs suggest he's no longer the fringe personality he once was. He, his wife and two young sons live in a spacious loft in TriBeCa, and he recently rented a suite of offices for Ararat Productions, his own production company (named after the mountain where Noah's Ark landed)."
^ abBrowne, Alix. "T MAGAZINE; Living Large", The New York Times, November 6, 2011. Accessed December 10, 2017. "'A brick Georgian was never my dream house,' insists the artist Laurie Simmons.... And yet, the first time she walked through the front door of the near-textbook brick Georgian in northwestern Connecticut that she and her husband, the artist Carroll Dunham, eventually came to own, 'something came over me,' she recalls.... Technically, the house is a weekend house - the couple maintains a loft in TriBeCa."
^Finn, Robin. "A Lena Dunham Locale", The New York Times, November 22, 2013. Accessed February 28, 2017. "The 24-by-17-foot 'children’s wing' at the back of the main level still has its west-facing window but no longer has the sibling-friendly room divider that was in place when Lena, who moved out in 2012, and her younger sister, Grace, who is in her final year of college, shared it and the green-tile bathroom. The sisters and their respective bedrooms figured prominently in Tiny Furniture."
^Garvey, Marianne; Niemietz, Brian; and Cartwright, Lachlan. "Z100's Elvis Duran buys a penthouse in Tribeca", New York Daily News, January 20, 2014. Accessed February 28, 2017. "Elvis Duran, the lovable Z100 'Morning Show' host, has bought himself a 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom penthouse in the Leonard building in Tribeca and is planning an immediate move."
^Sugar, Rachel. "Bethenny Frankel’s Tribeca penthouse sells in 1 day", Curbed New York, October 13, 2016. Accessed September 15, 2017. "Real Housewife of New York star Bethenny Frankel has officially sold her much-discussed Tribeca apartment—and according to one of her brokers, fellow Bravo reality personality Fredrik Eklund, finding a buyer didn’t take long."
^"Advisory Board", p. 11, Downtown magazine, Spring 2017. Accessed July 23, 2017. "Neal Marshad... He is a resident of TriBeCa and works in the neighborhood with his family and Borzoi hounds since 1974."
^Satow, Julie. "Jane Pratt: She’s Still So Sassy", The New York Times, September 5, 2014. Accessed December 10, 2017. "In 1997, she founded Jane magazine to cater to the aging Sassy demographic. Ms. Pratt lives in a loft in TriBeCa with her daughter, Charlotte, 11, and two dogs, Balloon, a Shih Tzu-poodle mix, and Lemon, a Maltese."
^Kennedy, Randy. "Rammellzee, 49, Pioneer In Hip-Hop and Graffiti", The New York Times, July 3, 2010. Accessed December 10, 2017. "For more than 20 years Rammellzee lived in a studio loft in TriBeCa that he called the Battle Station, where the walls and ceiling were virtually encrusted with his sculpture and other artwork, including toylike wheeled versions of letters that appeared to be armored and able to fly into combat."
^Smith, Roberta. "Art in Review; Lou Reed", The New York Times, February 17, 2006. Accessed April 30, 2017. "These color photographs -- many taken from the window of Mr. Reed's TriBeCa apartment -- are ordinary to the point of anonymity."
^Staff. "A Room With a View - New York, N. Y.", The New York Times, January 12, 1978. Accessed April 30, 2017. "When John Shaw, painter, awakes in the morning he sees New York City upside down. Mr. Shaw, originally from southwestern Virginia, had decided that the bedroom in his Tribeca loft was too dark, so rather than paying the expenses of having a window installed, he drilled a small, unobtrusive hole in the wall."
^Barbanel, Josh. "Coda for a Musical Home", The New York Times, March 16, 2008. Accessed April 30, 2017. "JUST before he turned 30, Duncan Sheik, the singer and composer, bought a 2,400-square-foot bare loft in a condominium at 195 Hudson Street, a block below Canal Street.... A few weeks ago, he put his TriBeCa loft on the market for $2.925 million with the help of Nora Ariffin, a broker at Halstead Property."
^Colman, David. "A Sophisticated Eye for Naïve Art", The New York Times, November 20, 2005. Accessed April 30, 3017. "Given his work's deranged craft-project look -- like the art version of a garage band -- it is a surprise to find a small, good collection of early Americana in his TriBeCa loft. While many art seers view the 1975 Whitney exhibition of Mr. Tuttle's work, which scandalized critics and nearly dealt a death blow to his career, as a seminal moment for the artist and the art world, one might argue that both he and his world were just as affected by another talked-about Whitney show a year earlier, 'The Flowering of American Folk Art, 1776-1876.'"
^Louie, Elaine. "POSSESSED; Stars In His Eyes Over A Pen", The New York Times, March 9, 2003. Accessed April 30, 2017. "Neil de Grasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and the Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium, is a big guy. He stands 6-foot-2 and has hands that can palm a basketball. He speaks in a booming baritone. In his TriBeCa loft, he ambles around a space with 14-foot ceilings."
^Goldsmith, Kevin. "Jack Whitten by Kenneth Goldsmith", Bomb (magazine), July 1, 1994. Accessed January 21, 2018. "On a blustery, early spring day, I visited Jack Whitten at his five-story Tribeca building where he has worked and lived with his wife Mary for many years."
^Robin, William. "La Monte Young Is Still Patiently Working on a Glacial Scale", The New York Times, August 19, 2015. Accessed April 30, 2017. "'The question is, who decides what music should be?' the composer La Monte Young asked during a recent interview. “What is music, and why is it music, and how did music start?” Sitting in his cluttered loft in TriBeCa, Mr. Young had just been ruminating on the creation myths of Indian music, and continued on to briefly address marches, bagpipes and Dizzy Gillespie before arriving at the conclusion to this circuitous historical trajectory: his own Trio for Strings, from 1958."