When Tribeca Was Small (Part Two)

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 called 80s.NYC. To give you a taste of what you’ll find, I grabbed a bunch of the more delicious images to post here. I focused on the larger photos, usually 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 buildings were 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 divided this into two posts because I collected too many photos for one post. The ones below are of Tribeca’s western half, more or less from the north; photos of Tribeca’s eastern half are here.


The southeast corner of Canal and West Street, where the 290 West condominium is now.


The southeast corner of Canal and Washington Street, where the 471 Washington condominium is now.


Where Albert Capsouto Park is now (bordered by Canal, Varick, and Laight).


Now the Post Factory NYC post-production facility for filmmakers.


Demolished to make way for the 70 Vestry condominium.


Demolished to make way for the River Lofts Tower at West and Laight.


Demolished to make way for the 408 Greenwich condominium (at the northwest corner of Greenwich and Hubert).


The American Express Carriage House, pre–condo conversion.


Where Greenwich Street Tavern is now (northeast corner of Beach and Greenwich).


Where the Greenwich Hotel now stands (southeast corner of Greenwich and N. Moore).


Now a six-story condominium.


Now a six-story condominium.


Northeast corner of Greenwich and Duane (the building that used to be home to Cornerstone Grill).


135 Reade is currently Reade Street Pub & Kitchen. The parking lot to the east is where the 12-story Tribeca Abbey rental building was built in 1997.


Now a trio of five- or six-story single-family townhouses built in 1999.


I think this is West Street between Warren and Murray. Those dark buildings look like the Greenwich Court buildings at 295 and 275 Greenwich, finished in 1987. So the parking lot is where 101 Warren (Whole Foods, etc.) complex is now.


80s.NYC says this is where Stuyvesant High School opened in 1992. Marginal Street is “the technical name for streets with no name,” Anthony Borelli, then the director of land use, planning, and development at the Manhattan Borough President’s office, told the New Yorker in 2007.




  1. I find these pictures to be both fascinating and sad. So much has been lost, not just in Tribeca, but throughout the city. All in the name of what, progress? Anyway, there was a bar on West Street I used to frequent in the 80s and I cannot recall the cross street. It was called Gulf Coast. It was a fun place with a Cajun-themed menu, various hard to find beers and a colorful décor. Does anyone remember it and where it was located? I’m thinking it was within a few blocks south of Canal Street. I have only been able to find a brief mention in the NY Times from 1986 about “Gulf Coast on West Street.”

    • http://www.nytimes.com/1985/02/20/garden/new-frontiers-for-young-restaurateurs.html?pagewanted=all

      Gulf Coast, at West and West 12th Streets, is a boisterous, jammed-to-the-rafters Louisiana- style hangout that shares a far West Village block with a closed- up discoth eque and abandoned warehouse. Independent film directors and young Wall Streeters come in droves for such fresh Southern dishes as steamed crawfish, fried catfish with hush puppies and dirty rice.

    • http://www.nytimes.com/1984/08/10/arts/diner-s-journal.html

      THE forlorn Hudson River piers in Lower Manhattan have little in common with Biloxi, Miss., or with New Orleans, but that hasn’t deterred the owners of Gulf Coast, a convivial new Louisiana-style restaurant at the corner of West and 12th Streets.

      • And remember How’s Bayou, which became the Harrison, and is now Maison Kaiser?

        • Howe’s Bayou. I worked there in 1987-88. I believe it was on Hudson and Franklin.

          • “On TriBeCa’s western fringe is a friendly Tex-Mex and Cajun establishment called How’s Bayou (355 Greenwich, 925-5405), and Capsouto Freres (451 Washington, 966-4900) is a charming, secluded restaurant in a landmark warehouse.”


          • Hello Greg,
            I hope all goes well with you. I was just looking to see about the 9/11 memorials today and somehow ended up on this page and saw the posts re the Hows Bayou – now I am the young Irish girl who worked there from 1986-1988. Not so young now, but my memories of the place are still fresh and wonderful! Such a fantastic place to work, great stff and bosses. Plus, it was one of the owners, Michael Hanley, who took me in as a stranger and gave me the job. And it was Cathy who sponsored me to go to college. So, you can see I have great memories. And I do remember a Greg that dated one of the waitresses who taught me – maybe it was you????? Either way, I hope everything has been ok for you for the past 35ish years. All good here and finally got back to live in Ireland in 2010!!! Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your day, Mo

    • Still there in 1986…


      GULF COAST This cacophonous Cajun/ Tex-Mex spot on West Street along the Hudson River that serves generally fresh and satisfying fare promises to be rocking like a canoe in a squall all weekend. The crowd runs from rolled-up workshirts to tieless young executives who dig into spicy steamed shrimp, tamales, soft-shell crabs and the like, washing them down with frosty Lone Star Beers. The average tab for a complete dinner with several drinks is about $20. While the downstairs dining room does not have a view of the river (the front bar has a partial view), a new second-floor room will open over the holiday weekend with an unobstructed view of the water. The restaurant, which normally serves dinner only from 5 P.M. to midnight, plans to serve lunch through the weekend and expand dinner hours if necessary.

      No reservations, no credit cards. July 4, lunch, noon to 4 P.M., dinner, 5 P.M. to 1 A.M.; July 5, dinner, 5 P.M. to 1 A.M.; July 6, dinner, 4 P.M. to 11:30 P.M. (489 West Street, near West 12th Street, 206-8790.)

    • A Tribeca connection …


      “A PASTICHE of its former lives, El Teddy’s is the fourth and newest incarnation of a restaurant that has been at 219 West Broadway, near White Street, in TriBeCa since the 1920’s.

      “From the 20’s until 1945, Teddy’s served German food. Then, under the same name but a different owner, it became a steakhouse that drew celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor. In 1985, it became El Internacional, famous for its tapas and blue margaritas.

      “In January the restaurant reopened and served Mexican food under the name El Teddy’s. It combines a tiled wall from the 20’s, curvy leatherette banquettes from the 50’s and a glitter-sprayed ceiling from the mid-80’s with new artist-designed furniture.

      ” ‘I wanted to get young artists to use the space to add another layer of history,” said Christopher Chesnutt, the 36-year-old who owns the establishment with a partner, Andrew Young. ‘I wanted the art to be of the place.’ As a partner in the Manhattan restaurants Tortilla Flats and Gulf Coast, Mr. Chesnutt said he was tired of decorating with ‘tsatskes from the flea market.’ “

    • Thank you James. I thought it was south of Canal, but thanks to your posts I found the picture on the interactive map.


      Thank you again. My mystery solved. On to the next.

    • What about West Boondock?

    • I think you are remembering Tortilla Flats. Also remember Prescots, around the corner from Puffy’s. I was there in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Before Odeon and DeNiro. Used to see Belushi and Aykroyd all the time. Belushi was a crazy man!

      • THANK YOU! I just went through dozens of replies and PRESCOT’S came up! That was the place. Wow, whatta joint! They had “illegal” jukebox dancing. It was a the diviest dive bar in the city and you could dance til closing. I loved this place!

  2. The Laight Street Diner (what we called 256 West Street)!!!

  3. Can anyone make out the advertisement on the side of the Reade Street Bar & Kitchen building? That advertisement was subsequently changed to a NYSC ad, which was subsequently blocked by (but still viewable from within) the Tribeca Abbey building.

  4. Reade Street Pub & Kitchen, that is. And the New York Sports Club ad was advertising the NYSC location that used to be at the west end of the block and is now being converted into a daycare.

  5. Yep, as James informed us, Gulf Coast was at West & W 12th, an easy hop from Dan & Bunny Gabel’s Jane St townhouse that also housed the Friends of the Earth Foundation. FoE founder Dave Brower (immortalized in John McPhee’s “Encounters with the Archdruid”) dined there a bunch of times in the mid and late seventies. Good food, good stories, good times.

  6. My parents moved to Soho about 40 years ago and long before it was known as Soho or Tribeca was known as Tribeca.

    My brother and I were college kids and thought my parents were beyond crazy to move there. The only real place to eat was a pizza place that had bullet-proof glass and just about every night we parked on Broadway between Broome and Spring, our cars would get broken into (anyone else remember the “nothing of value in car, no radio, no flashlight, no coins” signs that you had to put on the windows just to discourage a brick being smashed into your window??

    My mother still lives there many years later (Dad sadly passed away 3 years ago, but back then it was one of the most thrilling and undiscovered pockets of NYC…I loved every minute of living there.

  7. i think erik is right about the location of the shot labelled 187 west street. here’s a link to a shot looking down reade from west st. you can see the murals in detail that are visible on the left hand side of the above photo.


  8. Great photos. Having a bike here in 1972 it was great to ride around but an awful place to park. We gave up our car to the NYPD who took it for unpaid tickets.
    Does anyone remember Riverrun? A great Irish restaurant it
    made the best Pad Thai I’ve ever eaten.

    • Was just thinking about Riverrun. the rotating art on the walls from local artist. Sitting in the back booth writing christmas cards, having stir fried fettucine with vegetables and then some three berry pie – from a bakery around the corner on greenwich street. wonderspot. nothing like it anymore. Walkers may be the closest to what it was like early 90’s.

  9. Of course I remember River Run. I always got a salad there.

  10. Towers Cafeteria was owned by the Pantzer family from the 1930s until it became the Odeon. Every artist in the neighborhood spent time there, Close, Serra, Warhol ,Graves, and Wendy O. Williams, too many to mention here!

  11. I was a waiter/bartender at Riverrun in the mid/late 80s

  12. Anyone have any photos of Riverrun? Loved that place

  13. Does anyone remember North River Bar? When did that close ?

    • Loved that bar! It was a block or two away from The Wetlands on Varick. Live music every weekend and it would be rockin. Had some great nights there that are a little hazy in hindsight.

  14. Does anyone remember the name of a small bar on the southeast corner of Harrison and Greenwich in the 1980’s, around the corner from Puffy’s?

  15. Hi,

    Can anyone recall…

    I’m wracking my brain to remember a wild dive bar c.1970s that allowed dancing–it was big and way over west by Greenwich or Washington Street down where Independence Plaza was soon to be built. It was not even called Tribeca back then. It had a one-word Irish name. No, it was not Magoo’s or Puffy’s or Barnabus Rex or Area or Mudd Club or Wetlands or Manhattan Ocean Club… I would appreciate any response.

    Thank you!