The neighborhood of Tribeca is one of the neighborhoods of lower Manhattan, and is one of the youngest neighborhoods in Manhattan with the term Tribeca first being coined by the New York Times in the 1970’s. It is located in the area south of canal street up to the world trade center, however the exact border of the neighborhood is still debated amongst residents. That is the reason the neighborhood got its name TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal Street). Tribeca is one of the newer neighborhoods in NYC, but it already has a rich culture that makes it very unique. It’s known for its high life lifestyle; it has drawn in many celebrities who have taken up residence in the small neighborhood. But while the official, modern-day Tribeca is a relatively new change, the region has always been there, and it has a long history going back to Dutch colonial days as well as a rich history making it a unique neighborhood in the city.
The history of Tribeca, while the name does not come to be for centuries later, goes all the way back to the Dutch rule over Manhattan. The land that Tribeca would eventually occupy used to be swamp lands just outside the slowly growing city of New Amsterdam. Due to the severe lack of space on Manhattan Island the island itself would be expanded into the Hudson River using garbage and sunken ship parts and the swamp was drained and made into usable farmland, and by 1660 the land was owned by Dutch farmers using the land to provide the city with food. But as the city expanded eventually Trinity college would acquire the land and begin to build churches and lease out the newly drained swamp land to the people, this would lead to the forming of a residential neighborhood just outside the main city.
Big changes would eventually come when Great Britain took control of the island and the approach of the industrial age. By the mid 1700’s the city, now renamed New York, would have access to a global market spanning the entirety of the British Empire. New York was set in the perfect spot to become a major port city in North America for the British, meaning the settlement would have to change its purpose, including Tribeca. Tribeca was a central spot for the city by this time and its position on the Hudson River made it a vital district for shipping. It was home to the Washington market which was the name the neighborhood went by at the time. Although today the neighborhood is known for its expensive lifestyle, during these times the area was known for its chaotic and dirty lifestyle with hectic trading of produce and other goods taking place in the Washington market. It was also around this time that a canal was being built to drain Collect Pond into the river (this is the canal that canal street is named after). Using the water from this canal local food storage locations would use the latter to keep ice inside buildings cold and therefore keep food frozen for a longer period of time making it spoil much slower..
Between Washington market being a center for trade and the neighborhood’s ability to provide New Yorkers with fresh food, Tribeca quickly became the breadbasket for New York. The reputation for its frozen food would not last, the trading aspect of Tribeca would quickly become the main priority of the neighborhood. Once the Erie canal was made in the early 1800’s, connecting the Hudson River with the great lakes out west, Tribeca would find itself connected to the global markets across the ocean as well as the American interior. For this reason, industry and trade became the primary economic function of the neighborhood with textiles and other factories rising in the place of old Dutch farms. The once peaceful neighborhood would turn into a dirty and hectic place that had trade and industry at its center. The old brick houses of the 1700’s, while still standing, were for the most part changed into warehouses to protect trade goods from the Washington market and the parks that were built during the time of Trinity church were turned into a freight port for steamboats. As a result of the trade center that existed during the week Tribeca was a loud and bustling hub of trade during the weekends the neighborhood could be described as a ghost town.
Decades later trains and boats began to get phased out by trucking making the large warehouses and train station in Tribeca obsolete. Because of this the Washington market began to slowly go out of use and eventually cease to operate entirely. Leaving the neighborhood no longer a powerhouse of industry. The neighborhood was transformed into a quiet shell of what it had used to be. Most of the commercial buildings in Tribeca were abandoned since they no longer had any real use and were instead rezoned into a residential area. but in the neighboring SOHO began to commercialize and began to push for more art and cultural sites which would inspire Tribeca to do the same thing as well as lure in new residents into all of the cheap, and recently rezoned areas that were plotted out of the old commercial buildings. It is around this time that the New York Times first made public use of the term Tribeca when a group of artists attempted to rezone one block and the reporter their accidentally thought that the artist wanted to rename the entire neighborhood which, after the end of Washington Market, was known simply as the Lower West Side. The term would eventually stick and become the new official name for the neighborhood. Eventually it was these same artists who would buy the abandoned commercial building and turn them into homes and galleries which transformed Tribeca from a commercial center into an artistic one.
The next big change would come at the turn of the 20th century. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks the financial center of both New York and the nation were destroyed, in an unprecedented attack on American soil. The city and the nation was morally diminished and was economically crushed. In response to this, celebrities Robert De Niro, Jane Roshenthal, and Caria Hatkoff founded the Tribeca film festival in 2002 in an effort to revive the economy and culture of the damaged city. This would become a celebration of the rich culture of not just the city but the entire nation and would become an economic source for the neighborhood, bringing in roughly 2.3 million people and gaining nearly 600 million dollars in revenue. Every year hundreds of movies, TV shows and eventually VR programs would be revealed and shown off at the festival and with the exception of a few specific events most of the releases were open to the public for a small $10-$20 for a ticket into the event. The venue even has an old-fashioned drive-in experience called the Tribeca Drive-In which offered the opportunity for people to drive their cars into the movies reminiscent of the classic days of drive-in theaters during the 1950’s making it a truly unique experience. The film festival overall was a massive success, and the festival has become an annual occurrence that continues to this day. It was this cultural renaissance that would go on to make Tribeca the neighborhood it is known for today. Now there are several celebrities who have taken up residence in the neighborhood and have brought in several 5-star restaurants and boutiques driving up property values eventually making Tribeca one of the most expensive neighborhoods of Manhattan to live in making it a very sought-after section of the city.
The neighborhood of Tribeca is a well sought-after home for many New Yorkers as it offers so much in the way of art, culture, and a rich history. It is also home to large amounts of tourist destinations and high-end restaurants that bring in untold thousands of people into the city and help to boost the economy. Some of these attractions include the Tribeca Park and the firehouse used in the original ghostbusters. It also boasts impressive architecture that goes back to the early 1900’s truly adding to the history of this impressive neighborhood. However, tragically it has been shadowed by its much more well-known neighbors, like SOHO, little Italy, and Chinatown making it a less known neighborhood in Manhattan. This is a tragic circumstance for one of New York City’s first residential neighborhoods and a titan of trade and industrialization sitting at the heart of Manhattan.
Tribeca. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://tribecafilm.com/.
“New York: Selected Library of Congress Primary Sources : Classroom Materials at the Library of Congress : Library of Congress.” The Library of Congress. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.loc.gov/classroom-materials/usa-new-york/.
Allen, Jessica. “Must-See Tribeca.” NYCgo.com. NYC & Company, March 7, 2019. https://www.nycgo.com/articles/must-see-tribeca-slideshow/.
Team, The Marketing, and Haylee Pollack. “History of Tribeca.” Julep by Triplemint, February 24, 2017. https://www.triplemint.com/blog/history-of-tribeca-2/
“Tribeca Park.” Tribeca Park Highlights : NYC Parks. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/tribeca-park/history.
“History.” Tribeca Film Center. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://tribecafilmcenter.com/history.
“NYCDATA: Uniquely NYC.” NYCdata | Uniquely NYC. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.baruch.cuny.edu/nycdata/uniquely_nyc/tribeca-film.htm#:~:text=The%20Tribeca%20Film%20Festival%20was,of%20film%2C%20music%20and%20culture.
“Collect Pond Park.” Collect Pond Park Highlights : NYC Parks. Accessed April 27, 2022. https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/collect-pond-park/history.
Feld, Rick. “A Brief History of Tribeca.” Bevmax Office Centers, June 21, 2021. https://bevmaxoffice.com/2021/05/04/a-brief-history-of-tribeca/#:~:text=Tribeca%20was%20originally%20farmland%20that,of%20Tribeca%20in%20the%201670s.
Yarrow, Andrew L. “Tribeca, a Guide to Its Old Styles and Its New Life.” The New York Times. The New York Times, October 18, 1985. https://www.nytimes.com/1985/10/18/arts/tribeca-a-guide-to-its-old-styles-and-its-new-life.html#:~:text=The%20new%20TriBeCa%20first%20attracted,Office%20of%20Lower%20Manhattan%20Development.
Richard Plunz. 2016. A History of Housing in New York City. The Columbia History of Urban Life. La Vergne: Columbia University Press. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=sso&db=e000xna&AN=1821457&site=eds-live.
Platt, Frances Marion. “Before Electricity, Hudson Valley Ice Helped NYC Keep Its Cool – Hudson Valley One.” Hudson Valley One – Independent news & entertainment of the Hudson Valley, January 11, 2018. https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2017/12/28/before-electricity-hudson-valley-ice-helped-nyc-keep-its-cool/.
 Pollack, “History of Tribeca”
 Collect Pond Park, NYC parks
Platt, “Before Electricity, Hudson Valley Ice Helped NYC Keep Its Cool – Hudson Valley One”
 Feld, “A brief history of Tribeca”
 Plunz, “The History of Housing in NYC”
 Yarrow, “Tribeca, a Guide to Its Old Styles and Its New Life”
 History, “Tribeca Film Festival”
 NYCdata, “Uniquely NYCDATA”