The Seaport District sits between the Financial District to the south and the Brooklyn Bridge to the north. The original Seaport designation was limited to the streets east of Water Street from Fletcher Street to Dover Street and incorporated the actual Seaport and the piers. But no more. Today, the neighborhood boundaries have expanded westward toward Park Row and include a surge of new developments in the area around Pace University and City Hall Park.
This is not your father’s Seaport. It is no longer a commercial hub and the seafood industry, which operated out of the port for nearly two hundred years, has been displaced. The older low-rise buildings that line these cobblestoned streets have been repositioned, the SouthBridge towers complex to the east of Water Street has gone free market, multiple commercial buildings have been converted to residential usage and new gleaming residential towers are rising on the site of the iconic J&R Music World which once lined the east side of Park Row.
Still, the Seaport is a small neighborhood, particularly quaint just north of Beekman Street. The streets are dominated by century-old warehouses and maritime buildings which gives the neighborhood its overt character. The Brooklyn Bridge, on its northern edge, looms in the backdrop.
Front Street. Talk a casual walk along the cobblestoned streets and step into one of the charming restaurants with their tin ceilings and exposed brick walls.
The East River Waterfront Esplanade is a delightful bike/walk trail that starts at the northern end of the stunning Governors Island Ferry Terminal and runs along the East River up to Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side.
Pier 15. Just kick back and enjoy the views across the East River and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges from this fabulous multi-tiered open space that extends into the river.
8 Spruce Street. Also known as New York by Genry, this 75-story sculpture with its undulating elevation is magnificent in all directions. Designed by starchitect Frank O. Gehry, known worldwide for his unconventional use of steel and shapes to create whimsical building designs, 8 Spruce adds another iconic tower to the city skyline.
What You Might See
Millennials. There are dozens of residential towers in both the Seaport District and the Financial District to the south. Many of these are filled with residents in their twenties who find the rents a bit less expensive and policies more liberal toward shares.
Wayward tourists. If you’re walking along the cobblestoned streets near the Brooklyn Bridge, someone will undoubtedly ask you, “How do I get onto the bridge?” Well, unfortunately there is only one entrance on the Manhattan side and that requires a healthy walk in the direction of City Hall
What’s in the Future
Park Row. This short street across from City Hall Park was once the home to the fabled J&R Music World, is now being redeveloped and will include multiple new residential towers. The largest tower will be the art-deco inspired 25 Park Row which will rise 49 floors above City Hall Park and offer a sharp contrast to its neighbor at 15 Park Row, a landmarked turn-of-the-century 32-story tower that held the distinction of being the world’s tallest office building for nearly a decade from 1899 to 1908. The total cost to build 15 Park Row was about $2.5 million, the cost for a one-bedroom condo residence at 25 Park Row today.
It has been a long-term design plan to revitalize the Fulton Street corridor and to improve the overall streetscape between the new WTC and the South Street Seaport. As new residential towers continue to bolster the residential population, these plans will move forward and the neighborhood will become more inviting for families and millennials alike.
What You May Not Know
The Seaport District is Manhattan’s oldest neighborhood dating back to the early 1800s.
Hurricane Sandy dealt a devastating blow to the Seaport and its commercial tenants. Subsequently, ownership razed the shopping mall on Pier 17, an anchor to the Seaport District since the early 1980s. Today, the pier has been rebuilt and is home to commercial offices and entertainment venues, including the New York Studios of ESPN.
When the Dutch first used lower Manhattan as a commercial trading outpost, Pearl Street hugged the East River. But over time, due to the popularity of the commercial shipping hub, the East River was narrowed and new streets were created with landfills. Pearl Street was replaced by Water Street, Front Street and eventually South Street, which now runs along the waterfront.
If you watch ESPN you might notice that some of the shows offer a backdrop of the East River. What you might not know is that the backdrop is real and that these shows are broadcast from the channel’s new 21,000 SF studio on Pier 17, appropriately called ESPN Seaport District Studios.
What We Love
IPIC Theatre Fulton Market. Comfort and Service. Treat yourself to an evening of luxury while watching a first-run movie in a reclining lounge chair with valet food service. This is far from your typical movie experience.
The East River Esplanade. Biking or Rollerblading for miles along the East River is always a thrill.
Restaurants. And lots of them carved out of these historic buildings. Two of our favorite spots are ACQUA, featuring Italian coastal cuisine, at the corner of Peck Slip and Water Street and TEMPLE COURT at The Beekman hotel at 5 Beekman Street. This landmarked hotel is worth a visit on its own merits for its aesthetics and its one-of-a-kind interior atrium.
The Rooftop at Pier 17. Winterland Rink is a seasonal ice rink atop Pier 17 that delights the young at heart with an evening skate under the lights of downtown Manhattan. In the warmer months, the 1.5-acre rooftop plays host to a Summer Concert Series which draws a wide range of entertainers.