Snapshots of Tribeca’s Gentrification

A couple of weeks ago, Curbed made a request:

We’re asking neighborhood experts to tell us, in 100-150 words, about a memory or moment or instance that personified gentrification. The more concrete the better: when a local diner made way for yet another Starbucks? A vacant lot got an expensive rental building? A dive bar now houses a place with $15 cocktails? A piece of public art was removed or created, or a park was transformed? The bodega started carrying fancy soap?

I could think of a million such moments for Tribeca, but none that quite nailed it—and then Adam and I got bogged down in a discussion about what gentrification even means. In hindsight, my submission was a bit melodramatic, and I wish I had focused on less of a “moment” and more of a catalyst—namely, the arrival of Whole Foods, which in my opinion bears the most responsibility for turning Tribeca into the neighborhood it is now.

My submission, which Curbed published last week along with other folks’, is below. I’m posting it here because I’m curious which moments—as defined by Curbed above—you’d have come up with.

Tribeca has undergone a near-total overhaul in two decades, from the artists taking over commercial spaces to the affluent families buying them out, and examples of gentrification can be found on every block. For me, the most symbolic moment was when J. Crew opened a men’s shop in what had been the Liquor Store, a neighborhood bar in the best possible sense. J. Crew did a respectful job—I’ve shopped there—but anyone who remembers a New York City where independent businesses outnumbered chains can’t help but wince every time he passes by. The shell is preserved; the soul is another story.



  1. The loss of El Teddys

  2. When all the (1) hot dog cart garages in SW Tribeca and (2) true odd-lot and (seemingly) used clothing stores below Chambers and east of W. Broadway systematically got changed into high end retail and restaurants (and, with the cart garages, even a few single family homes along Reade, one with its own garage!).

    When Harry Wils & Co moved to NJ and Duane Street between Hudson and Greenwich changed from working warehouse to antique furniture.

    When RIverrun closed and an art gallery opened in its place.

  3. Nobu and JFK Jr.

  4. Second El Teddys.

  5. @Jim I held onto a piece of the stained glass at Teddys. Making it into art.

  6. What Barnabas Rex closed and became a law office

  7. When the Smyth Hotel came to Chambers and West Broadway. It replaced a nondescript men’s shoe store and flower shop, and spruced up the block. But, to me, it signalled that Tribeca had become a destination.

  8. P.S. 234

  9. Long before I moved to Tribeca, I would go to these amazing Cuban dance parties at a bar on W. Broadway called No Moore, until the fire department closed them down. I believe it is now a single family home/complex.

  10. Yaffa’s and the Puffy’s of 15 years ago.

  11. When 100 Hudson was redone and sold as coops in 1978. This was followed by a slew of other coop conversions, on Hudson, Warren and Broadway in 1979 and 1980. By the 1983 real estate crash, gentrification was alive and well, although not at the level it is today.

    My benchmark for the current level of gentrification is 2 year olds wearing Montclair and Patagonia down jackets.

  12. Leroy’s Coffee Shop.
    The Burrito Bar.
    The Sporting Club.
    Area & Wetlands Preserve.

  13. The Holland Tunnel

  14. Absolutely El Teddy’s!

  15. I remember with much sadness the day I heard that the little gem of a basque tapas restaurant called Pinxtos was closing as the rent was no longer affordable to them.
    Simply fantastic affordable authentic basque food.. Some of our best meals were had here.

    We seem to have been slowly turning into an affluent suburb ever since.
    Whole foods etc.

    This of course is unavoidable and not all of it is bad but I wish we could hold on to some of the remaining treasures we are still lucky to have with us.

  16. …100% agree about Liquor Store, and I was there on their last night with my boyfriend, now husband, who I met right here on our deserted streets of yore.

    For worse and better, the moment for me is, was and always will be 9/11/01.

  17. When Clark Construction closed up. They sponsored the quaint kid’s street fair complete with a pony ride that used to take place annually on North Moore Street. Back then the north side of North Moore was made up of a gutted building and working warehouses, the street deserted at night and on weekends. Also when Socrates Diner closed. It was a true neighborhood joint, reasonably priced, with friendly owners who knew your order and address as soon as they heard your voice on the phone. They had been there decades. After that all high-end hell broke loose.

  18. When Commodities Grocery store became an Issey Miyake unaffordable clothing goods store.

  19. The closing of How’s Bayou on Greenwich Street. When they would open the floor to ceiling doors and windows, you could sit and have a beer and watch the world go by in a real neigborhood bar. And they would always give my daughter mardi gras beads. Priceless. And Apres Scotts ne Yaffa’s. What a great gin mill. Miss all of them

  20. When the Garden Cafeteria closed (now the Odeon), When Dykes Lumber closed on Chambers, when Cheese of All Nations closed on Chambers, when Delphi closed, when parking lots disappeared, when DiNiro moved away, when Riverrun closed, when the galleries closed, when the old West Side Highway was demolished, when How’s Bayou closed, when cabbies didn’t know where Tribeca was, when development began on the west side of West St., when this area no longer was called Washington Market, when in-vitro clones took over the Washington Market park playground, when Tri-Bakery closed on Franklin, when Ruby’s Bookstore closed on Chambers, when artists couldn’t afford to live here, and when everyone else wanted to live here. And many more reasons…..

  21. I remember when Liquor Store was actually a travel agency in the early 90’s. Pre-internet buying, I bought many a plane ticket there. Yes, that’s how old I am!

  22. . . . and all culminating in the closing of Pearl Paint. The end.

    [PS it was Towers Cafeteria not Garden Cafeteria]

  23. I can end this discussion right now: the closing of the Harmony Lounge

    P.S. Mr. Smithers, today is the 87th Birthday of the Holland Tunnel

  24. The renovation of Duane Park.

    Happy Birthday Holland Tunnel!!!

  25. The Laundry Loft…the Breadshop Cafe…Hamburger Harry ‘ s

  26. Wow, a trip down memory lane in this list of gone but not forgotten businesses.

    Commodities was on my corner, and Riverrun a block away, back when cabbies had no idea where North Moore Street was. Farm & Garden and El Teddy’s were also regular haunts, but my two strongest memories of “old” Tribeca are the smell of nuts roasting at Bazzini’s, coupled with the sound of horse shoes clattering on the cobblestone street outside my window.