Before it was called Tribeca, before Robert De Niro made it cool, and before it became an artist's community, this downtown nook was known as Washington Market. In the mid-nineteenth century, New York's piers moved to the Hudson River, and The Washington Market served as New York's main food destination. Certainly not the cleanest area back in those days, the New York Times once described the market as a 'dirty, degraded little rat hole,'. Back then the buildings around the Market may not have seemed notable, but the historic buildings that still stand in Tribeca are a huge part of the draw in this neighborhood today. Some of the world's first cast-iron structures adorned Washington Market's streets, and today only a few have survived. The neighborhood was home to numerous warehouses and loft buildings - many constructed in the Romanesque Revival style. Unfortunately many have disappeared over the years, but you can still wander Tribeca and find some beautiful examples.
It wasn't until the 1970's when Tribeca began changing drastically. Artists who were tired of SoHo and the increased rent there started to move down to Tribeca. They embraced the high ceilings, and spacious streets and took up residence. It was around this time that the neighborhood also got a new name - TriBeCa - an acronym for Triangle Below Canal. With the growing population came growing fear that the unique elements of this neighborhood could all be gone one day. The new pioneers of Tribeca saw the history and architectural value at stake and led the fight to preserve it's character. With every preservationist fight comes a desire from new groups to reside and buy there. Just like Jane Jacobs and the fight to preserve Greenwich Village, Tribeca's fight led to the neighborhood's prestigious residences and increased rent, making it the most expensive zip code in Manhattan in 2015. Not only do some of the biggest household names live in this neighborhood, but the area also plays host to the annual star-studded Tribeca Film Festival.
THEN & NOW
Enjoy before and after photographs of the streets we all know and love: