When Tribeca Was Small (Part One)

Thanks to Craig for directing me to 6sqft‘s post about 80s.NYC. Developers Brandon Liu and Jeremy Lechtzin have taken the photos that the New York City Department of Finance collected in the mid-1980s and plotted them on an addictive interactive map. To give you a taste of what you’ll find on the map, I grabbed a bunch of the more delicious images to post here. I focused on the larger photos, which tend to be of smaller buildings. (Taller, thinner buildings got smaller photos.) It’s a stark reminder of how many one- and two-story buildings have been torn down in subsequent decades. You might also be surprised at how worn the neighborhood was in general.

All of the photos are courtesy of the New York City Municipal Archives; visit its website to search by address (the 1980s Manhattan photos are here) and to buy prints.

P.S. I’m dividing this into two posts because I collected too many photos for one post. Here’s W. Broadway and parts east, more or less from the north. The photos get a bit larger if you click on them.

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Of course, some buildings looks the same.

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Where Café Clementine currently is.

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The northwest corner of N. Moore and W. Broadway.

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The nursery that used to be where the Roxy Hotel is now.

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Where the 20-story 91 Leonard is under construction.

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The northeast corner of Worth Street. Check out how you used to be able to see the south side of the Clocktower Building.

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Around the corner on Worth Street (between Broadway and Lafayette).

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Broadway and Thomas, where the McDonald’s got (even) uglier after this was taken.

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The low building to the left is where Tribeca Tower is now. And I guess there used to be a street to the east of where Trimble Place is now…?

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Where the Duane Street Hotel is now.

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The Balloon Saloon!

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Sushi of Gari.

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Nish Nush.

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Recently demolished to make way for 30 Warren.

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Recently demolished to make way for 108 Chambers.

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Demolished to make way for the Smyth. (A crying shame.)

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75 Warren, between where Mulberry & Vine and Warren 77 are now.

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Torn down to make way for 30 Park Place.

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13 Comments

  1. No old photos of IPN?

  2. even though the area was quiet and a bit “dark” it was original and I wish those days were back again.

  3. I love this and often wonder what someone who lived or worked here in the 1800s would say. Or the 1700s, when this was farmland (a far greater shift than 1960-present).

    Here’s to “the originals” regardless of your decade or century!

  4. I sure do miss that nursery on 6th Ave where the Tribeca Grand is now.

  5. Looking at these, I see that much of the construction occurred on the site of low, one or two floor “taxpayer” buildings, built so investors could have land they own pay for itself. Now, many years later, we see how well “taxpayers” met their goal. I never realized the relationship between new buildings and taxpayers before.

    As someone who started to spend time in Tribeca in 1975, and moved here shortly thereafter, I miss the old, shabby, artistic interesting, inconvenient neighborhood with the best bars.

  6. What was the name of the old German restaurant on the east side of Church St.?

    • Do you mean Suerken’s?

      http://www.nytimes.com/1982/02/19/arts/the-9-oldest-restaurants-in-the-city-a-critic-s-guide.html?pagewanted=all

      “Typical of old-style Germanic bar-and-grill market restaurants, Suerken’s (962-8053) has been at 27 Park Place, at Church Street, since 1877. Its huge, serpentine bar, fanciful mellow murals, which seem to have been inspired by a Nile theme, its cast-iron Corinthian columns and old etched and stained glass are all in need of repair or restoration. But even so, their inherent beauty still glows.

      “The German food at Suerken’s is stodgy with floury gravies. The best choices are clams or oysters on the half-shell; petite marmite soup with chicken, beef and lots of celery; broiled fish, sandwiches, egg dishes, such as a western omelet, and on Thursdays, an excellent chicken pie, filled with white meat and vegetables under a flaky crust. Boiled beef, a Wednesday special, is passable if you have the horseradish sauce on the side. Tongue, often available also on Wednesday, is best as a sandwich on rye. Tuesday’s corned beef is popular with regulars, although I haven’t tried it. A maverick winner is the hefty, fresh-baked apple strudel, which would be a near miracle if it were served warm. Prices are moderate, with chicken pie and boiled beef at $10.95, and other main courses ranging from $4.25 to $14.25 for steak. Lunch and dinner, 11:30 A.M. to 8 P.M., Monday through Friday. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.”

  7. I agree. A lot of the new construction is hurting the character of the old neighborhood.

    Here’s a question for everyone:

    When will landlords in Tribeca (by the way, which are mostly coop owners, not corporations) stop holding out for absurd, high retail rents for their ground floors and make the spaces affordable for small, local businesses? Every block can’t (and please don’t let it be) have a bank or a Starbucks. There is more value created for a building when it has a charming, active retail tenant operating, vs. nothing or even some corporate entity that diminishes the character of the old buildings and the blocks.

    If this were to happen more often, then maybe some of that lost, old Tribeca character could be regained…

    • Where else in NYC are these “small, local businesses” establishing new ground floor retail locations that–but for lower rent solely and for no other reason–would otherwise be in Tribeca?

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