Longtime Tribecan Keith Haber dies at 71

Keith Haber, a longtime Tribecan who as an early adopter of family loft living, helped transform Tribeca into the residential neighborhood it is, died on Jan. 25. He was 71 and died from a neurodegenerative disease, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), that “robbed him of everything that made him the loving, joyful, good human being that he was,” his wife, Anita, said.

As a partner in an accounting firm he founded in 1978, his clients were primarily local small businesses, residents and not-for-profit organizations, including the Friends of Hudson River Park and the Brooklyn Center for Families in Crisis. For 20 years, Keith also served on the board of an international organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s research. And he took an early role in his coop, serving as board treasurer and president for three decades.

Keith was born and grew up in Riverdale, the youngest of three boys born to Alice and Herman Haber. He and Anita met at 17 in 1969 at the University of Toledo. “He wasn’t sure about me at first,” she said. “After all, I was a girl from Cleveland with braces on her teeth and a midwestern accent and he was from the Bronx with stylish clothes and a great haircut.” The pair married in 1973.

When he took a job at an accounting firm in the Financial District in 1975, the couple decided to move downtown to what at the time was called Washington Market — not yet Tribeca.

Keith’s father had worked for one of the fruit and vegetable distributors on Jay Street when Keith was a child, and he and his dad would come to Tribeca on a Saturday for a visit to the Horn & Hardart automat as a treat. He didn’t think of the area as a residential one until artist friends from college, who had taken up residence on Hudson Street, suggested Independence Plaza. Keith walked over to 40 Harrison on his lunch break and signed a lease. At the time the development was only 25 percent occupied — “no one knew about the neighborhood” — and a one-bedroom was $240 including utilities.

There was no real supermarket, Anita said, but there was Reilly’s market on Chambers, a fabulous fish and seafood store on Reade, a butcher at Morgan’s and another butcher on Warren. “And there was this unbelievably delicious hole-in-the-wall on West Broadway that made fresh donuts in the window every morning,” Anita said. “It was a while different neighborhood and maybe even more of a community — you knew the shopkeepers and they knew you.”

Keith called himself ‘the purveyor,’ and when he couldn’t find something in Tribeca, he would go up to the Village to shop at Jefferson Market at Balducci’s.

And they enjoyed what was a very quiet neighborhood at the time, with no traffic and even an abandoned elevated highway: the couple would jog on the Miller Highway after it was closed (in 1973) but before it was fully dismantled in 1989. Washington Market Park was for the most part a gravel lot, but it would eventually be the scene for a young mother’s group that Anita started.

When it was time for a bigger apartment, they looked at many of the newly converted manufacturing buildings in the neighborhood — including David Letterman’s building on N. Moore — and settled on the coop on Warren, a duplex that would become their home — and the place they raised their two children — to this day. Henry was born in 1987 and Clark in 1990.

“Our lives changed in many ways over the years, but Keith remained steady and always assured me that everything would work out, he was always optimistic,” Anita said. “When I was scared or worried about something, and there was always something, he encouraged me to believe that all would be okay, and he was right — most of the time.”

The couple went abroad for the first time in 1992, landing in Paris and starting a lifelong travel love affair with France that continued for the better part of the next three decades. Their last trip was December 2019.

Keith was diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy not long after he began to show signs that something was not right — and that began a slow, five-year decline.

“He lost the ability to walk, talk, smile, and enjoy the life he deserved,” Anita said. “That was the thing about Keith, he rarely complained. He was a happy guy except if he couldn’t find a parking spot or if he was in a traffic jam somewhere or if the Yankees, or the Giants, or the Knicks lost. But, in true Keith fashion, he hung in there. He woke up every day, knowing it would be the exact same as the day before. He was brave and courageous, a fighter until he could no longer fight.”



  1. Keith was a valuable and helpful neighbor. Our condolences to Anita, Clark, and Henry.

  2. The fabulous fish store was on Duane St. between Hudson & W. Broadway and called Petrasino’s.

  3. I am so happy to have known Keith-such a wonderful asset to our community.
    my condolences to the entire Haber Family