TriBeCa, Manhattan, New York City
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TriBeCa is a neighborhood in downtown Manhattan. The name is a syllabic abbreviation of "Triangle Below Canal Street." It runs roughly from Canal Street south to Park Place, and from the Hudson River east to Broadway. TriBeCa, once an industrial district dominated by warehouses, has undergone a major revitalization. Warehouses were converted into loft apartments and new businesses emerged, making it into a mixed zoning neighborhood.
TriBeCa is dominated by former industrial buildings that have been converted into residential buildings and lofts. Notable buildings in the neighborhoods include the Powell Building, on Hudson Street, which was designed by Carrere & Hastings and built in 1892. At 73 Worth Street there are a handsome row of neo-Renaissance White Buildings built at the end of the Civil War in 1865. Other notable buildings include the New York Telephone Company building at 140 West Street with it's Mayan-inspired Art Deco motif, and the former New York Mercantile Exchange at 6 Harrison Street.
During the 1960s and '70s, abandoned TriBeCa warehouses became hot-spot residences for young artists and their families because of the seclusion of lower Manhattan and the vast living space. James Stratton, a TriBeCa resident since this period, wrote the 1977 nonfiction book entitled "Pioneering in the Urban Wilderness," detailing his experiences renovating lower Manhattan warehouses into residences.
Many people mistakenly attributed the name TriBeCa, the acronym for Triangle Below Canal, to the "triangular-shaped neighborhood". However, the neighborhood resembles an irregular trapezoid. TriBeCa's etymology is more site-specific.
In the early 1970s, a couple of years after artists in SoHo were able to legalize their live/work situation, artist and resident organizations in the area to the south, known then as Washington Market or simply the Lower West Side, sought to gain similar zoning status for their neighborhood. A group of Lispenard Street artist/residents living on the block directly south of Canal Street between Church Street and Broadway, joined the effort. Just as the members of the SoHo Artists Association coined "SoHo" after looking at a City Planning map which marked the area as 'So. Houston' and shortened that to SoHo, these Lispenard Street residents likewise employed a City Planning map to describe their block.
Since that block below Canal is wide on the Church Street side but narrows towards the Broadway end, it appears as a triangle on City maps. The Lispenard residents decided to name their group the Triangle Below Canal Block Association, and, as activists had done in SoHo, shortened the group's name to the TriBeCa Block Association.
A reporter covering the zoning story for the New York Times came across the block association's submission to City Planning and mistakenly assumed that the name TriBeCa referred to the entire neighborhood, not just one block. Once the paper began referring to the neighborhood as TriBeCa, it stuck.
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