South of New York’s City Hall (Broadway and Murray Street), East of Battery Park City
The Financial District of New York City (sometimes called FiDi) is a neighborhood on the southernmost section of the borough of Manhattan, which comprises the offices and headquarters of many of the city’s major financial institutions, including the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange. The neighborhood roughly overlaps the boundaries of the New Amsterdam settlement in the late 17th century and today has a residential population of about 56,000, thanks to aggressive new residential development—both new construction and conversion projects. During the day, the population swells to about 300,000.
As a district, it encompasses roughly the area south of City Hall Park, but excludes Battery Park and Battery Park City. The heart of the Financial District is often considered to be the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street, both streets are contained entirely within the district.
Previously, the neighborhood was considered to be primarily a destination for daytime traders and office workers from around New York City and the Tri-state. The neighborhood now has a growing number of full-time residents, with estimates made in 2008 showing that there were approximately 56,000 people living in the area, a jump from the 15,000-20,000 living there before September 11th.
It also has a growing number of tourist attractions such as the Federal Hall National Museum, the adjacent South Street Seaport Historic District, New York City Police Museum, and Museum of American Finance. The Sports Museum of America is located at the base of the Canyon of Heroes where the famed New York City Ticker-tape parades begin.
BATTERY PARK CITY
West of the West Side Highway and South of Chambers Street
This downtown development, built on 92 acres of landfill created by the one million cubic yards of earth excavated to build the Twin Towers, gave new life to a riverfront that had been left derelict for too many years. It successfully reversed the northward residential migration more than a century old and brought thousands of families and workers into a new neighborhood of water’s edge high-rises, pocket parks and playgrounds. Post September 11th, a mix of government subsidies, hope, faith and great river views have served to bring this area nearly all the way back. Recently added to the mix are The Solaire and The Riverhouse, “green” residential developments and of course, the rebirth and renewal of Ground Zero with new office towers, a memorial as well as a cultural component, all is various phases of design or construction.
Local landmarks include The Hudson River Esplanade and The Winter Garden.
South of Canal Street, West of Broadway, East of West Street and North of Chambers.
What began as a well-to-do residential enclave became industrial in the 1860s, housing the dairy wholesaling district. But starting in 1970s the handsome old warehouse buildings, many clad in cast-iron, were transformed into artist’s lofts, luxury co-ops and condominiums, and voila, TriBeCa was born. Today this triangle below canal (what the acronym stands for) is a stylish neighborhood catering to larger downtown families, artists, Wall Street executives and new restaurants and hotels. Characteristic of the neighborhood too, are a roster of spacious high-ceilinged and equally high-priced home furnishings and antiques stores. Longtime neighborhood resident and restaurant owner (TriBeCa Bar & Grill, Nobu, Nobu Next Door), Robert DeNiro, created TriBeCa Film Festival to help heal and restore the neighborhood post-9/11; it has become one of the city’s major annual events.
Local landmarks include the restored Federal row houses, Harrison Street Houses, and Washington Market Park.
Houston to West 14th Street, Broadway to Seventh Avenue
The largest of the city’s designated Landmark Districts, Greenwich Village was a semi-rural retreat for the wealthy in the early 19th century. It happily escaped the imposition of the “street grid” in 1811, retaining its winding lanes (especially to the west and south) which are so much a part of its legacy and iconic imagery. Wealthy families resided in the long-fashionable residences just west of Fifth Avenue and on the north of Washington Square Park, but at the beginning of the 19th century its charm and relative isolation drew a more radical and free thinking element. This was the neighborhood of Poe, Melville, Twain, and James, and later Eugene O’Neill, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Dylan Thomas. In the 1950s the beatniks (or beats) gave the Village the romantic image in most people’s mindset. Today’s Greenwich Village, though no longer the affordable artist’ enclave, beckons still, delighting with its Federal and Victorian architectural gems, atmospheric bistros, coffee houses and neighborhood and designer boutiques. Lower Fifth Avenue’s “Gold Coast, from Waverly Street to 13th Street, boasts some of the city’s most elegant and sought-after co-ops.
Local landmarks including Washington Square Park, presently in the final stages of a massive restoration; Bleecker Street—now one of the city’s most charming destination shopping areas, where luxury labels mix with respected antiques dealers to create the “high and low” and “old and new” vibe that is signature New York style.
West Houston to 14th Street, Hudson Street to the River
Little of the old leather-bar culture remains on the west side as the West Village evolved into one of Manhattan’s most sought-after neighborhoods. While the rows of townhouses and smaller-scale co-ops still line the streets between the West Side Highway and Hudson Street, new luxury residences—most notably Richard Meier’s famed Perry Street glass towers (which Calvin Klein and Martha Stewart once called home, and where actor Hugh Jackman now resides). The Robert A.M. Stern-designed Superior Ink condominiums are well underway, creating a striking brick façade along the West Side Highway and a row of new, individually distinct townhomes along Bethune Street. Whether landmark protection can be fast-tracked in time to save any of the vacant vintage buildings from demolition and preserve the area’s low-rise character is anyone’s guess. The area’s appeal lies in its proximity to the Hudson River and the genuine “intimate neighborhood” vibe on the majority of the streets.
Landmarks include 121 Charles Street, a small Cape Cod-style building that is Manhattan’s only freestanding privately owned house.
West 16th Street to Hudson Street, Ninth Avenue to the West Side Highway
In just over 10 years, the Meatpacking District has transformed itself from smelly meat and poultry warehouses into one of downtown New York’s most fashionable destination locations. Just over a century ago, the area was home to some 250 slaughterhouses and meat packing plants; in the 1980s and mid-90s, the area was home to “tranny” prostitutes and drug dealers, and as recently as 1997 you could regularly find the stretch of West 14th Street from Ninth Avenue to the West Side Highway spotted with blood-mixed puddles, the residue from the district’s main businesses. Today, that same strip of 14th Street is lined with some of the city’s priciest designer boutiques, from Stella McCartney to Diane Von Furstenberg, from fashionista emporium Jeffrey to furniture retailer Design Within Reach. The Soho House and Gansevoort Hotel, along with a roster of tony restaurants including Pastis and Spice Market, has helped usher in a new era for the neighborhood. The area is sandwiched between the West Village and the newly developed High Line, including the striking Standard Hotel at 848 Washington Street.
From Houston to Canal Street, Sixth Avenue to Lafayette Street
SoHo, the neighborhood “south of Houston Street,” was originally associated with the arts community and live/work artists’ lofts, but has since become famous for both destination shopping and its downtown restaurant and bar scene. It is an archetypal example of inner-city regeneration and gentrification, encompassing socio-economic, cultural, political and architectural developments, including a brand of the Guggenheim Museum. During the 80s, SoHo was home to some of the city’s top art galleries, before they migrated to the West 20s in upper Chelsea. The neighborhood is a mix of new classic New York lofts, walk-ups and low-rise new construction. Broadway, for many years the “outer fringe” of SoHo’s shopping district, anchored by the stylish boutiques and galleries on West Broadway, is now home to many of the leading names in fashion and retail. The area’s restaurants are among the city’s best, including Balthazar, which helped redefine downtown dining.
LOWER EAST SIDE
14th Street to Canal Street, along the East River
Specifically, the Lower East Side, in the southeastern part of the New York City, is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, E. Broadway, and Grand Street. It has traditionally been an immigrant, working-class neighborhood, but underwent rapid gentrification during the city’s real estate boom years, 2004-2007. The neighborhood is home to some of the city’s most authentic neighborhood bars and concert halls, including The Bowery Ballroom.
From Grand Street to City Hall
New York’s Chinatown, unlike other major city’s Chinatown neighborhoods, and proved remarkably resistant to the gentrification and new development that has touched almost every part of the city, and is the largest, most populated Chinatown in the U.S. Chinatown is continually expanding, and today stretches from City Hall to Grand Street (and by some accounts even further, to Delancey). Bowery is probably still the technical western border above Canal Street, but most Little Italy blocks east of Mulberry feature signs in Chinese. A sprinkling of new luxury residential development has touched the area, including The Machinery Exchange at 136 Baxter Street, a conversion of the city’s former police department horse stables into luxury lofts. A new Mondrian Hotel is slated to open at 150 Lafayette Street in the next year, and will be the first luxury hotel of its kind in the neighborhood.
East 14th Street to Houston Street, Broadway to the East River
The East Village has had many incarnations. In the 1820s and 1830s, it was briefly an aristocratic residential enclave, but eventually became home to waves of immigrant populations. Remnants of the myriad cultures that once called this area their home remain. Brass plaques in the foreground of the Second Avenue Deli commemorate the stars of Yiddish theater which flourished on Second Avenue, the landmark Ottendorfer Library was a gift from the German community, and East 7th Street between Second and Third Avenues is still called Little Ukraine. In the 60s what was now christened the East Village became a magnet for hippies and flower children who made St. Mark’s Place their mecca. The neighborhood fell into disrepair and crime in the 70s and early 80s, but longtime residents fought the good fight and soon boarded up shops and abandoned building came back to life. The area transformed itself into an incubator for all that was new and cutting edge in New York fashion, music, and art. Now moneyed professionals are changing the demographics once again but the area still retains an edge. The neighborhood’s boundaries are being stretched as crime recedes and developers build condos in what was formerly referred to as Alphabet City, Avenue A, B, C, and D.
Local landmarks include Tompkins Square Park, St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery and Renwick Triangle.
Between Houston and Broome Street, East of Lafayette Street
Nolita, sometimes written as NoLIta (North of Little Italy), was long-regarded as part of Little Italy. The area, however, lost much of its recognizable Italian character in recent decades because of the migration of Italian-Americans out of Manhattan, and a mix of new residential development and condo conversions.
In the second half of the 90s, the neighborhood saw an influx of young urban professionals and an explosion of expensive retail boutiques and trendy restaurants and bars. Having previously tried unsuccessfully to pitch the neighborhood as part of SoHo, real estate promoters and others came up with several different suggested names for this newly upscale neighborhood. The name that stuck, as documented in an article on May 5, 1996 in The New York Times City Section debating various monikers for the newly trendy area, was Nolita, an abbreviation for North of Little Italy.
Neighborhood landmarks include St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, at the corner of Mott and Prince Streets, which opened in 1815 and was rebuilt in 1868 after a fire. The cornerstone was laid on June 8, 1809. This building served as New York City's Roman Catholic cathedral until the new St. Patrick’s Cathedral was opened on Fifth Avenue in Midtown in 1879. St. Patrick's Old Cathedral is now a parish church. Another neighborhood landmark is the Puck Building, an ornate structure built in 1885 on the corner of Houston and Lafayette Streets.
West 14th Street to West 34th Street, Sixth Avenue to the River
Chelsea originally referred to the estate of Captain Thomas Moore, which in 1750 covered the area from present-day 19th Street to 28th Street and Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River. Subdivided into lots in the early 19th century, its fortunes fell with the arrival of the elevated railroad on Eighth Avenue in the 1850s. In the ensuing years it went from entertainment district to literary bohemia to decades of ups and downs. A mix of old industrial spaces, turn-of-the-century tenements, and some lovely row houses, it has since the mid-90s transitioned from an ethnically-mixed area of bodegas and carnicerias (Latino butcher shops) to a predominantly gay enclave of boutiques and restaurants. The redevelopment of the Chelsea Market building into a gourmet row and office building, and it’s top-tier restaurants, helped turn Chelsea into a destination dining scene, and helped revitalize the nearby Meatpacking District. The arrival of Whole Foods on the corner of 24th Street and Seventh Avenue provided another important anchor for Chelsea as gentrification pushed northward, in the high-20s and low 30s. In the past few years, Chelsea has attracted more young families to the area, because of the area’s large apartment spaces, mix of new residential development, as well as the well-maintained townhomes. During the past decade, the far West 20s of Chelsea has become home to many of the city’s leading art galleries, which migrated from Soho and Midtown.
West 17th Street to West 30th Street, Sixth Avenue to Lexington Avenues
Named for the iconic, triangular-footprint building at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 23rd Street, the area has long been favored by photographers capturing the city’s great images. The mixed-use neighborhood (commercial, retail and residential) has attracted publishers vacating Midtown, creative and tech businesses (for a brief while, a strip of Broadway was known as “Silicon Alley”), leading retailers and new residential development—both luxuxy residential condominiums and rental buildings.
Great restaurants abound largely because of one the area’s earliest, and greatest supporters: Danny Meyer (of Union Square Café, Gramercy Tavern and 11 Madison fame). In recent years, Meyer has helped revitalize Madison Square Park, originally a potter’s field then a grand square that like many New York public spaces, fell into decline in the early 90s. Meyer’s “Shake Shack,” a gourmet burger joint that anchors the southern tip of the park, draws lines all summer long.
Fifth Avenue from 23rd Street down to 14th Street is lined with some of the leading names in national retail, including J.Crew, Banana Republic, Coach and others.
East 17th Street to 22nd Street, Park Avenue South to Second Avenue
If you have a view of and a key to Gramercy Park, it’s heaven. The leafy streets between 20th and 21st Streets, which flank the private park, anchor some of the city’s most sought-after addresses. Well-to-do singles and professional couples gravitate to the medium-size co-ops in both pre- and postwar buildings, while celebrities and the wealthy buy (and hold) the brownstones or neighborhood’s larger apartments.
The only major new residential development overlooking the park has been 50 Gramercy Park North at the Gramercy Park Hotel, a small collection of flawless homes created by developer and hotelier Ian Schrager, and designed by noted architect John Pawson.
East 43rd Street to 53rd Street
With the quiet calm of tree-lined streets and the small-town friendliness that pervades the neighborhood, Turtle Bay offers welcome relief from the City’s commercial roar. The Turtle Bay Association and its volunteer members are dedicated to preserving and enhancing this lovely corner of Manhattan.
The neighborhood of Turtle Bay extends from 43rd to 53rd Streets, and eastward from Lexington Avenue to the East River. The United Nations now stands where the bay once was, and the 40-acre tract once known as Turtle Bay Farm has evolved into an urban landscape. Still, many landmarks of the past remain as evidence of the areas colorful history.
East 34th Street to East 59th Street, East of Sixth Avenue to the River
It’s the heart of New York, where much of the city works, where some are lucky enough to live. To the west is Fifth Avenue, once home to a clutch of carriage trade department stores—only Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue remain—now boasting the boutiques with the most recognizable names in luxury retailing including Armani, Cartier, Gucci, Prada, Versace, and of course, Tiffany’s. Bendel’s now occupies what was formerly the Coty building, on Fifth Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets. Office towers dominate the area’s western precincts, including Trump Tower—not a landmark, but one of the area’s most recognizable addresses. At First Avenue the United Nations Headquarters and some of the city most moneyed residential enclaves overlook the river. Tudor City, East 40th Street to East 43rd Street between First and Second Avenue, built between 1925 – 1928, is a residential retreat hovering above and away from the fray. Beekman Place, east of First Avenue between East 49th Street and East 51st Street, has always offered its residents low-key luxury. The townhouses of Sutton Place, East 57th Street and East 58th Street, were built as a speculative venture in the 1920s, with the hope of luring the wealthy, who at the time were opting to reside in posh Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue apartment buildings. Midtown East also contains some of New York’s most prominent landmarks.
Local landmarks include Grand Central Terminal and The Empire State Building.
Where else in the world can you find:
- An opera that spills 3,000 gallons of water on the singers
- The home of Emmy Award winning television programs
- 100,000 of your neighbors kicking their heels to Cuban son, swing, Irish jigs, and disco
- "Petrushka" performed by puppets
- A show with dazzling high wire artists and upside-down musicians
- A Brazilian Festival, Mexican music, a Taiwanese Tea Ceremony, Korean drumming, African dance, and Canadian fiddling
- An unparalleled selection of classical music performed by the world's greatest musicians Only one place… Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Lincoln Center presents more than 350 live performances each year through six distinguished performance programs that bring music, opera, theater, dance, puppetry, circus, and cultural expression from around the globe to Lincoln Center stages. Lincoln Center is a national leader in television programming, family programs, and service for people with disabilities.
The complex’s recent renovations, and those of Alice Tully Hall, update this important cultural destination’s appeal for a new generation of arts and culture patrons.
UPPER WEST SIDE
West 59th Street to West 125th Street, Central Park to the Hudson River
The Upper West Side (often referred to by its acronym, “UWS”) was mostly a shantytown until the Ninth Avenue elevated train arrived in 1879, spurring Singer Sewing Machine heir, Edward S. Clark to build his Dakota Apartments (1884) at West 72nd Street, the city’s first luxury apartment house. At first it was thought to be as remote as the Dakota Territory but its success spawned many more, among them the Bellecaire (1901), Ansonia (1904), The Belnord (1908), and The Apthorp (1908). Recent new residential developments such as the Time Warner Center (2004) and 15 Central Park West (2008), that anchor the base of the Upper West Side, have ushered in a new era for the area’s grandest addresses. But it was the influx of European exiles in the 1930s—cultured, intelligent, artistic and politically active—that defined the area for the past century and set it apart from the more posh and “old money” atmosphere of the Upper East Side. The elegant apartment buildings that line Central Park West, Broadway, West End Avenue, and Riverside Drive, the unbroken rows of classic 19th century brownstones on the tree-lined side streets, and not one but two glorious urban oases – Central Park to the east and Riverside Park to the west - make this prime real estate. Young married professionals (with and without children), theatre and literary folk, and all those young singles that populate the bars on Columbus call the Upper West Side home. The presence of Columbia University and the mixed income housing that dominates the upper reaches of Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, continues to ensure the ethnically and economically mixed neighborhood Upper West Siders champion.
Local landmarks include Lincoln Center of West 65th Street, Riverside Park and Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.
From 123rd to 155th Streets, bordered by the Hudson River and Edgecombe Avenue
Hamilton Heights is bounded by 135th Street to the south, the Hudson River to the west, 155th Street to the north, and Saint Nicholas Avenue/Bradhurst Avenue to the east. The community derives its name from Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, who lived the last two years of his life in the area when it was still largely farmland; specifically, he lived in what is now known as Hamilton Grange National Monument. It is located within Manhattan Community Board 9.
Most of the housing dates from the extension of the elevated and subway lines at the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th Century.
These are spacious apartment buildings, brownstones and other row houses prominently lining the leafy eastern streets of Hamilton Heights, an area traditionally home to a substantial black professional class. The brownstone revival of the 60s and 70s led to a new movement of middle-class blacks in the area. Latinos arrived in large numbers in the 80s. Today the local population is changing again, with Hispanics constituting a majority of the population followed by African Americans and West Indians. Gentrification since 2005 has dramatically increased the proportion of non-Hispanic whites. Many actors, artists, teachers, and other professionals now reside in Hamilton Heights.
Hamilton Heights is home to the City College of New York (CCNY), Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Harlem School of the Arts and Aaron Davis Hall.
From 110th Street to 125th Street, Riverside Park to Morningside Drive
Morningside Heights is bounded by the Upper West Side to the south, Morningside Park to the east, Harlem to the north, and Riverside Park to the west. The main thoroughfare is Broadway. With the recent gentrification of Bloomingdale, the neighborhood immediately to the south of Morningside Heights, the southern boundary of this region is sometimes stretched to 106th Street and at times even 96th Street. The neighborhood is sometimes referred to as the “Academic Acropolis,” the “Acropolis of New York.” Bloomingdale Village in the words of comedian George Carlin, is “White Harlem.”
Broadway to Fifth Avenue, from West 125th to West 155th Street
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Harlem was a thriving farming community, with the arrival of the New York and Harlem Railroad in 1837. Harlem became a fashionable address with handsome brownstones, high-class apartments and polo on horseback at the original Polo Grounds. In the decades that followed Harlem housed successive waves of immigrants, first German and Irish, then Jewish and Italian, and by 1910 it was well on its way to becoming the largest black community in America. In the Roaring 20s, nightclubs and dance halls showcased the likes of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington and writers and artists helped round out the fabulous Harlem Renaissance. But speculators had built grand buildings and townhouses in anticipation of the middle class arriving from downtown—which never happened. Blight and crime came instead. Many boom and bust cycles later, Harlem’s story is being rewritten yet again as middle class families and investors buy and restore homes in Sugar Hill, Hamilton Terrace and Mt. Morris Park.
Local landmarks include Strivers’ Row and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
From First Avenue to Fifth Avenue, East 96th Street to East 125th Street.
Following the speculative building boom in the late 19th century, this neighborhood was earmarked to become an extension of the Upper East Side, replete with luxury apartment buildings and impressive cultural institutions. But greener pastures beckoned as the train lines were extended to reach the outer boroughs. By default the area became working class, populated with Italians and Jews who moved up from lower Manhattan. In the early 1900s this was home to the largest number of Italians in the country. After World War I, the area, especially between 110th and 117th Streets east of Madison Avenue, became a magnet for Puerto Ricans seeking a better life, eventually becoming known as Spanish Harlem or El Barrio. Overcrowding burdened the existing housing stock of mainly tenements, and soon housing projects dominated the landscape, a solution many now know led to as much loss as gain. Years of struggle in the community has started to pay off as the East Harlem of today rebuilds and renews its cultural identity, as Puerto Ricans and African Americans are joined by Mexicans and South Americans. As the upper reaches of the east side become more attractive to those looking for large apartments available for less, this area, well served by public transportation, has begun to draw young professionals.
Local landmarks include El Museo del Barrio and the Museum of the City of New York.
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS / INWOOD
Washington Heights: 155th Street to Fairview Avenue
Inwood: North of Fairview Avenue
Washington Heights and Inwood, along with Marble Hill, are the three northernmost neighborhoods in Manhattan. Although they are part of New York City, this section of Manhattan is generally ignored by most tourist maps, whose northern edge is usually depicted as 96th Street or 125th Street.
Washington Heights is named for Fort Washington, a fortification constructed at the highest point on Manhattan island by Continental Army troops during the American Revolutionary War, to defend the area from the British forces. Washington Heights is bounded to the south by 155th Street and to the north by Fairview Avenue and runs from the Harlem River on the east to the Hudson River on the west. On a side note, the Tony award-winning Broadway musical “The Heights” takes place in the Washington Heights neighborhood, depicting the multicultural richness of the neighborhood.
Inwood is the northern tip of the island, everything lying north of Fairview Avenue. The two neighborhoods are often lumped together as one because administratively they make up Manhattan Community District 12. Marble Hill is the landlocked section of Manhattan and is now physically connected to the Bronx. It was separated from the rest of Manhattan when the Harlem River Ship Canal was dug and the Spuyten Duyvil Creek was filled in.
Local landmarks include Lincoln Center of West 65th Street, Riverside Park and Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.