Who Wouldn’t Want to Occupy It?

Photo: Iwan Baan

The world’s eyeballs were glued to lower Manhattan twice in 2011, first with the unveiling of the World Trade Center Memorial and then with Occupy Wall Street. Outside of New York, the area’s Q rating has never been higher. Inside, the story’s the same, but for very different reasons. Suddenly, a lot of people want to live in the square mile below Chambers Street—56,000 by one recent count, up 60 percent from 2005—and a growing number of businesses and developers, not to mention tastemakers like Danny Meyer and Frank Gehry, are racing to meet them. Here, a comprehensive accounting of the new restaurants, bars, shops, schools, parks, and 24-hour Über-pharmacies turning the onetime office ghetto into a full-fledged neighborhood.

The party no longer ends at happy hour.

The neighborhood’s traditionally pubby drinking scene got its first destination cocktail joint over the summer in Silver Lining (1) (75 Murray St., nr. Greenwich St.; 212-513-1234), a subterranean jazz bar run by Little Branch vets. Serious imbibers are also alighting on The Living Room (2) (123 Washington St., nr. Albany St.; 646-826-8646), which slings drinks designed by mixologist Charlotte Voisey on the moodily lit fifth floor of the W Downtown hotel. The beer scene has also improved dramatically thanks to Porterhouse Brewing Company at the historic Fraunces Tavern (3) (54 Pearl St., nr. Broad St.; 212-968-1776) and Keg No. 229 (4) (229 Front St., nr. Peck Slip; 212-566-2337), which offers a 21st-century take on beer appreciation, with self-serve draft spouts and consumption-tracking LED screens. Two-story newcomer The Growler Bites & Brews (5) (55 Stone St., nr. William St.; 917-409-0251) takes a resident-friendly stance by welcoming patrons’ pooches to its cobblestone patio. It’s two-legged customers only at the Bailey Pub & Brasserie (6) (52 William St., nr. Wall St.; 212-859-2200), a classic late-night deal-sealing operation with soaring windows, a steak-frites-leaning menu, and red leather banquettes.

It’s not just Boar’s Head heros anymore.

The arrival of several major lunch players from elsewhere in the city has signaled the end of the reign of the dirty-floor deli. That sea change gained momentum with, what else, a Shake Shack (1) (215 Murray St., nr. West St.; 646-545-4600), which is rumored to reserve one grill for upstairs neighbors Goldman Sachs. The Luke’s Lobster (2) (26 William St., nr. Broad St.; 212-747-1700) boys likewise brought their popular lobster-roll operation down to these parts over the summer, while Julian Medina chose the financial district for his Toloache Taqueria (3) (83 Maiden Ln., nr. Gold St.; 212-809-9800), the casual, order-at-the-counter branch of his mini Latin American empire. French chef François Payard (4) (210 Murray St., nr. West St.; 212-566-8300) joined the migration with his casual pastries-and-sandwiches-and-salads concept in October. Even Chicago-based sub chain Potbelly Sandwich Shop (5) (101 Maiden Ln., nr. Pearl St.; 646-289-4201) zeroed in on the hood for its first New York location, introducing its Dagwood-worthy stacks of meat, meat, and more meat to Wall Street this summer.

Future Eats
Where Danny Meyer goes, many follow.

In his hotly anticipated North End Grill (1) (104 North End Ave., at Vesey St.; 646-747-1600), Meyer hopes to do for Fidi what Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster did for Harlem—that is, rouse a sleepy fine-dining scene. The 120-seat restaurant, with Floyd Cardoz of Tabla at the helm, plans to unveil its open kitchen and serious Scotch menu before the New Year. Another Meyer operation, a smaller outpost of Gramercy’s Blue Smoke (2) (225 Vesey St., nr. North End Ave.; no phone yet), is also slated to open by year’s end. Meanwhile, Renowned U.K. bartender Sean Muldoon and Puck Fair’s Danny McDonald are teaming up on a bar, The Dead Rabbit (3) (no address or phone yet), that will focus on mid-nineteenth-century drinking culture, with one room devoted to craft beers and a fancier one re-creating punches and other cocktails from that era. Cocktail buffs will also herald the arrival of Demi Monde (4) (90 Broad St., nr. Stone St.; no phone yet) from Death & Co.’s David Kaplan, David Blatt of Interstate Food & Liquor, and others. Also coming up: Pizza Vinoteca (5) (32 Water St., nr. Broad St.; no phone yet), a wine-and-grilled-pizza experiment from Top Chef all-star Stephen Asprinio; and an unnamed project on Pier A (6) (Pier A, 4 Battery Pl., nr. West St.) from Peter Poulakakos of Harry’s Steak, Financier Patisserie, Ulysses, and the Growler Bites & Brews. His group won the coveted lease to Victorian Pier A in Battery Park City, where they’ll open a beer garden, seafood restaurant, and oyster bar in 2013.

Eat your locavore heart out, Union Square.

Since its founding in 2005, the New Amsterdam Market (1) (South St. nr. Peck Slip; Sundays, May through December) at the old Fulton Fish Market site has grown from an occasional event to a monthly happening to (nowadays) a weekly fixture endowed with prepared pickles and salamis, an impressive local wine selection, and more lobster rolls from Luke’s. Veggie lovers can also stock up at area Greenmarkets, including the neighborhood’s newest Greenmarket at the World Financial Center (2) (South End Ave. at Liberty St.; Thursdays, April through December), where a concierge service lets office workers shop early and pick up purchases at the end of the day. At the Andaz Wall Street farmers’ market (3) (75 Wall St., nr. Pearl St.; Saturdays and Wednesdays, April through mid-December), some of the farmer vendors that supply hotel restaurant Wall & Water offer their wares direct to consumers in the Andaz courtyard. There’s also a weekly CSA in collaboration with Pennsylvania-based Down Home Acres Farm.

Until the megamall arrives, it’s all about the essentials.

Century 21 aside, lower Manhattan is not a great shopping neighborhood. It is, however, an ideal location for the city’s (nay, the world’s) most multitasking Duane Reade (1) (40 Wall St., nr. Nassau St.; 212-742-8454). The five-month-old store is open 24 hours and packed with a small town’s worth of services: a hair salon, a manicure station, a shoeshine, a flower kiosk, a jewelry counter, and a sushi bar. Other newcomers filling neighborhood niches: old-school stationer

Everywhere you look, a new park has popped up.

The year’s most obvious lower-Manhattan news is the reconstruction of the World Trade Center (1) site and the inauguration of Memorial Plaza, which will eventually be joined by 1 World Trade Center, four additional towers, and the Santiago Calatrava–designed World Trade Center Transportation Hub. For the locals, however, the action is in Battery Park, where an entire acre has been set aside for the Urban Farm (2), composed of 80 plots of farmers’-market-bound organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers, tended by kids from local public schools. Frank Gehry has settled in here, as well, but not to design another blockbuster building. His Battery Playspace (3) (Battery Park, State St.), is set to replace the current, outdated playground in early 2013. In the meantime, parents and kids can begin to switch up their recreational scenery at Imagination Playground (4) (2 Fulton St., nr. South St.), a futuristic kiddie zone designed by David Rockwell; Teardrop Park South (5) (Vesey St. at River Terr.), the Michael van Valkenburgh–designed offshoot of the original Teardrop, featuring high-tech mirrors that bounce sunlight into its shady areas; and along the Fulton Street Corridor (6) (at Pearl St.), where Pearl Street Playground’s new sandbox and plaza will join the recently cleaned-up Titanic Park (at Water Street). Just north of the South Ferry terminal is the revamped and relandscaped Peter Minuit Plaza (9 Battery Park, nr. White Hall Terminal) (7), home to a picnic-ready pavilion designed by Dutch architect Ben van Berkel. The first section of the planned two-mile East River Esplanade (8) (South St. bet. Maiden Ln. and Wall St.) opened this summer, and its Pier 15, with a boating dock, café, and upper-deck lawn, will be up and running soon. (In 2013, the East River Esplanade and Hudson River Park will be connected via the Battery Garden Bikeway.) There’s also the redevelopment effort along Liberty Street, which has led to the renovation of Louise Nevelson Plaza (9) (William St., Liberty St., and Maiden Ln.), first built in 1977 and now showing off its namesake feminist sculptor’s works again.

Workouts (Both Mental and Physical)
New schools for the kids, new gyms for the parents.

As lower Manhattan has become a gravitational center for young families, the schools have kept up with the playgrounds (see above) in number and design. Battery Park City School, P.S./I.S. 276 (1) (55 Battery Pl., nr. First Pl.) is one of the first schools designed and built under the city’s Green Schools Guide. The partially solar-­powered elementary school features an outdoor science classroom and unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty. Also new to the area is the Spruce Street School (2) (12 Spruce St., nr. Park Row), an elementary school occupying the brick base of Eight Spruce Street, the tallest residential building in America, with an undulating façade designed by the neighborhood’s busiest architect, Frank Gehry.* For more grown-up mental pursuits, there’s the new 10,000-foot Battery Park City Library (3) (175 North End Ave., at Murray St.), Manhattan’s first LEED-certified library, and Hive at 55 (4) (55 Broad St., nr. Beaver St.), a new work space for freelancers and start-ups created under Mayor Bloomberg’s MediaNYC 2020 program. And in the fitness realm, there’s a SoulCycle (5) (103 Warren St., nr. Greenwich St.) spinning studio, where Chelsea Clinton allegedly got into wedding shape last year, and arriving soon, a new Battery Park City campus of Asphalt Green (6) (212 North End Ave., nr. Murray St.). The extension of the popular Upper East Side facility promises 52,000 square feet of fitness equipment and classrooms.

No need to transfer.

How to handle all this new traffic? In addition to the World Trade Center station, the Fulton Street Transit Center (1) (Fulton St. at Broadway) will eventually connect twelve subway lines and the path train in one megafacility. A new entrance to the A/C/2/3 lines opened in August on William Street, with another scheduled for 2012, and by 2014, the whole $1.4 billion project should be complete. And, should you need to get across the river, the five-month-old East River Ferry network stops every twenty minutes at Pier 11 (2) (Gouverneur Ln. at South St.), one of seven stops along the route.

*This story has been updated to correctly identify the Frank Gehry-designed residential building as Eight Spruce Street, not Beekman Tower.

See Also:
(Somewhat) Affordable Lower Manhattan Housing

Reporting by Jillian Goodman, Jenny Miller, Lauren Murrow, and S. Jhoanna Robledo.

Who Wouldn’t Want to Occupy It?