How is it possible for such a small landmass to keep reinventing itself? Even a regular traveler to New York City can have a hard time keeping up with the emerging areas. Of the past decade’s “new” neighborhoods, some, like Dumbo or East Williamsburg, are the result of a creative real estate developer’s marketing tactics. Others are an urban planner’s fantasy: Former no-man’s-lands whose cheap rents led to notoriety and a brand new moniker, like the Meatpacking District. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Thomas R Stegelmann)
The birth of a new neighborhood is a matter of timing and, in all likelihood, catchiness. Ones like NoMad (north of Madison Square Park) and others like SoHa (south of Harlem) haven’t exactly caught on yet. NoMad’s anchor, the Ace Hotel, hasn’t been joined by anything noteworthy enough to make the bizarrely deserted area a destination. While the 10 blocks south of Columbia University, the heart of SoHa, has seen ongoing development it still lacks an identity distinguishable from adjoining Morningside Heights and that Ivy-beleaguered part of Harlem. Plus, their names leave something to be desired.
Sometimes an old name is resurrected, giving the neighborhood a certain old-school patina, but the results have been mixed. Take Clinton, for example, an alternate name for Hell’s Kitchen that never stuck. Its residents seem to prefer the gritty version to something more gentrified-sounding.
Then there’s Vinegar Hill, just east of Dumbo. According to the blog Forgotten New York, the neighborhood is a classic example of a developer-christened name, only from the 1800s. After being decimated by the building of the BQE, new luxury condos led to new residents and more dining choices like the celebrated Vinegar Hill House. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/barry.pousman)
Keep reading for six New York City neighborhoods you may not know…
Where: Downtown Manhattan, south of NoLita between Tribeca and Little Italy
What’s there: This area has been sliced and diced into so many tidbits, but Solita is the latest arrival. Stay the night at the Solita Soho Hotel, a small boutique hotel, but stay out late on Santos Party House’s dance floor. Bun is a souped-up Vietnamese restaurant while Parigot is a nook of a French bistro.
Where: Southern tip of Manhattan between the South Street Seaport and Battery Park City
What’s there: As an acronym for the Financial District, FiDi refers to the fun side of buttoned-up Wall Street. Traditionally, it became deserted after the closing bell and then 9/11 happened, which actually ended up turning the area into even more of a tourist attraction. Now with game-changing restaurants like SHO Shaun Hergatt and the gourmet draw of New Amsterdam Market, FiDi is moving to the head of the class. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Miss Meng)