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City Living: Hudson Square
What used to be an industrial neighborhood full of printing factories is slowly burgeoning into a vibrant 24/7 residential community.
The small west side neighborhood of Hudson Square, sometimes referred to as West SoHo, is headed toward a big transformation after an approved rezoning by the City Council in March 2013 made way for more residential and retail development.
"'The neighborhood around the Holland Tunnel’ is something we want to get over,” said Ellen Baer, president of the Hudson Square Connection Business Improvement District. The BID was created in 2009 to help improve the neighborhood via street beautification projects and plans to ease traffic congestion, among others.
“We’re on the cusp of that 24/7 vibe,” she added. “We’re beginning to see more activity as residential places are being developed here. We’ll see a lot more people in the next few years.”
According to Baer, Hudson Square goes back to 1705 when Queen Anne deeded the mostly farmland to Trinity Church, which still owns about 40% of the buildings in the area.
Historically it was known as the printing district as printing factories in the 19th and 20th centuries catered to nearby Financial District firms. Remnants of the factories remain throughout the area, such as with its many loading docks.
Today loft buildings serve as office space for media, tech, architecture, publishing, and public relations firms like PR Newswire, Medidata, Penguin Putnam, Viacom, Saatchi & Saatchi and WNYC Radio, which is housed at the 10 Hudson Square building at 160 Varick St.
At 75 Varick St., the recently landmarked One Hudson Square building is home to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, New York Magazine and Getty Images to name a few.
“It’s an eclectic neighborhood,” said Philip Johnson, a real estate agent at Citi Habitats. “It has a mix of Federal and Greek revival style townhouses from 1820s to 1840s and those are juxtaposed with loft buildings that serve as offices and glassy condos about 15-20 stories that are very modern.”
He noted that the area is quiet at night compared to the day when it is buzzing with office workers.
Some of Hudson Square’s residences, on King, Charlton, and Vandam streets, are part of the Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District, designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1966 and consisting of Greek revival and Federal-style townhouses.
Though still on the verge of becoming a vibrant 24/7 nabe, the area is already home to many notable establishments. Several hotels have popped up including Hotel Hugo NYC, Wyeth, Four Points Sheraton and the Trump SoHo at 246 Spring St., the tallest building in the area at 46 stories.
“People can meander around here and find lots of things having to do with art and history,” Baer said. “There are very charming restaurants too; it’s somewhere where you feel like you’ve stumbled on New York at its best.”
A gallery scene is quickly budding with the Longhouse Projects Art Gallery, Studio Vendome and Fridman Gallery on Spring Street, along with Jack Geary Gallery on Varick Street. Cultural centers also abound ranging from the Film Forum on W. Houston Street to the SoHo Playhouse on Vandam Street and WNYC's Jerome L Greene Performance Space on Charlton Street.
And a range of eateries line its streets like Houston Hall on West Houston Street, Giorgione on Spring Street, PJ Charlton on Greenwich Street and Westville Hudson and Jacques Torres Chocolates on Hudson Street.
A part of Pier 40 and the Hudson River Greenway is also within Hudson Square’s boundaries, allowing residents waterfront recreational activities.
“There is something very real about Hudson Square; it doesn’t feel touristy, contrived or forced,” Baer said. She expects about 3,000 residential units for the neighborhood in the future as a result of the zoning changes.
“I think you’ll see more families moving in soon,” she added. “We sort of are the hole in the donut among Tribeca, SoHo and The Village and we’re really part of the whole fabric of the lower west side of Manhattan. It sells itself in many ways as a place to live.”
-- LISA FRASER
New York City Fire Museum
This charming historic museum showcases the evolution of firefighting from the 18th Century to present day on two floors. Permanent exhibitions include “Firefighters on Parade” and the 9/11 Memorial Room.
HERE Arts Center
Since 1993 this multidisciplinary arts center has featured theater, dance, media, digital art and puppetry. Upcoming shows include “Performance Mix Fesival: 28” by New Dance Alliance on June 10 and “THE MOUNTAIN” by the Circle Theater of New York starting June 14.
Children’s Museum of the Arts
This 1,100-squre foot children’s museum showcases exhibitions and hosts art classes, projects, after school programs and a Summer Art Colony Day Camp from June 16-Aug. 29.
The Moroccan-themed stylish lounge is a hotspot for partygoers. On Thursdays they host a dance party with a different theme aiming to crank up the fun for the crowd.
This popular music venue offers Bossa Nova Brunch Sundays with an open sangria bar, live music and a three-course menu.
The Ear Inn
This spot is housed in the landmarked Federal-style James Brown House, named for an African American man who aided George Washington and worked the tobacco trade between Europe and the south. Today the bar attracts young patrons who sit outside in warm months and enjoy live music when offered.
Scott Jordan Furniture
The spacious showroom features everything from dressers and beds to dining sets and cabinets that are environmentally friendly, and most of which is crafted locally at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Hudson Square Pharmacy
In addition to pharmaceutical services, this neighborhood one-stop independent shop offers a range of food, beauty, health and gift items including greeting cards.
Rent the Runway
The popular shop where women can rent dresses and accessories made by famous designers is headquartered with a cozy and chic showroom in Hudson Square.
Fine wine, good food and acoustic music are all the rage of this rustic and intimate space. The tasting room serves wine fresh on tap and the cellar holds 300 French oak barrels. Tours are offered and outdoor seating is also available.
This French eatery is highly rated by its guests and is popular for being one NYC restaurant where you can BYOB.
Mae Mae Cafe
Locally sourced American cuisine, creative mixed drinks and fresh juices and live performances on Wednesday nights await patrons at the warm and intimate café.
Though named Hudson Square, the small neighborhood takes on the shape of a trapezoid. It is bounded on the north by W. Houston Street or Morton Street, depending on who you talk to, on the south by Canal Street, on the west by West Street and the Hudson River and on the east by Avenue of the Americas. More »
Buses: M5, M20, M21 More »
The First Precinct at 16 Ericsson Pl., just below the Canal Street boundary, covers the Hudson Square neighborhood. Grand larceny is high in the precinct. For the week of May 5-11 there have been 15 complaints, the same amount as that same time in 2013. According to the NYPD’s CompStat report, overall crime for this year has seen an almost 22% decrease. More »
NYPL, Hudson Park branch, 66 Leroy St. More »
USPS, 201 Varick St. More »
In 2013, the Hudson Square Connection Business Improvement District began implementing a $27 million streetscape improvement plan for the neighborhood. The plan involves planting 300 new trees and creating more open space and safer street crossings. More »
255 Hudson St. One bedroom, 1 1/2 bathrooms; 945 square feet: $5,700 per month. More »
246 Spring St. #3311 Studio condo in the Trump SoHo; 475 square feet: $925,000 More »
Phil Mouquinho is known as the poster boy for Hudson Square and has owned and operated PJ Charlton for 34 years. But what is now an Italian restaurant serving up authentic Northern Italian cuisine started off as a burgers and fries place, where workers in the neighborhood could grab a quick bite. He then switched to serving American dishes in the early 1990s before changing the menu once more, this time to Italian. Now PJ Charlton is known for its rigatoni, chicken marsala and eggplant parmigiana and the signature Phil’s ravioli. Mouquinho was born and raised on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village. More »