March 10, 2008

Walking Off Tribeca: Starting at Square One

The Square Diner at the corner of Leonard and Varick in Tribeca smells of strong coffee and a hot griddle full of pancakes. Housed in one of the last authentic rail cars, with a ceiling of handsome wood paneling and a row of wide sliding windows facing the street, the diner is the kind of place you trust for breakfast and where catsup is comfortably within reach.

This morning, after I sat down in a booth in the Square Diner, I ordered the big breakfast to which many of us have grown accustomed - two eggs, bacon, toast, New York-style breakfast potatoes, and lots of coffee. The meal didn't disappoint, and while drinking the last cup of coffee I turned to look out the window to look at what was happening on the street.

Across the street I could see a little sliver of a park with a handful of trees. Finn Square, it's called, named for a hero of the Great War. To the left, I could see a handsome tall red brick building, and then beyond the park, a couple of buildings with Italianate facades along Franklin Street. Immediately across the street, trucks lined up in front of the non-descript ConEd facility. Over to the right, I watched the construction crews work on the steel skeleton of a new law school building, and just across the street from the diner, more workers digging the foundation for a new condominium development.

After leaving the Square Diner, I walked west on Franklin and then turned north on Greenwich Street. As I crossed the intersections heading home, I could see the bright blue sky and the Hudson River to the west. Along the street, many well-kept and renovated nineteenth century buildings, once storage facilities and the site of textile businesses, now house some of the most affluent residents of the city. As is the case for many sections of Manhattan, the building boom has not ceased in Tribeca for the city's new well-heeled class of global workers.

I don't know much about the lives or interests of these loftiest residents of Tribeca. I hope to find out more in the days ahead. But, at least for the start of my explorations, I've found a good place in this triangular neighborhood for a nice square breakfast.

Note: This is the first of a series of posts about the Tribeca neighborhood in lower Manhattan.

See related posts:
The Woolworth Building
Establishing Shots: The Tribeca Film Festival
The Tribeca of Duane: Duane Street and Duane Park
Tribeca's Most Tripped-Out Vista
Tribeca Living: A Building for Chocolate, and One for the Wool Trade
In Search of the Lower West Side: Before Tribeca
Walking Off Tribeca and Remembering Mostly Lunch
Walking Off Tribeca: The Lay of the Land

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