Historic Front Street, then and now


In last week’s Downtown Express, Helaina N. Hovitz reported that the first annual Taste of the Seaport event was a huge success. An estimated 2,500 people participated in the event, which was held on Historic Front Street and featured 23 food vendors representing local restaurants and face painting and crafts for children. The event raised an estimated $15,000 for P.S. 397, the Spruce Street School.

Many people participating in the event were struck by the event’s community focus, which is new for the neighborhood. “I’ve lived here for 11 years, and this is the first time I’ve seen something like this. A new neighborhood, new families, and new schools coming together at the same time,” said Roger Bentley, one of the event organizers.

In 2005, Ronda Kaysen wrote an article entitled “Living with the fishes, and a feeling of history,” which heralded the changes coming to Front Street. Kaysen described the restoration of Historic Front Street, a strip of 17 buildings between Beekman St and Peck Slip, into rental residences. The development retained a historic character, with porthole windows, exposed brick, wood beamed ceilings, and inscriptions from Moby Dick incorporated into the facades.

Historic Front Street’s new tenants were delighted to have found the neighborhood. Terry Harlow, a self-employed learning consultant who had been living in Southbridge Towers, said she “fell in love” with one of the studio apartments, adding, “I just love Downtown. I couldn’t imagine living in any other neighborhood.”

Kaysen also noted another impending change to the neighborhood. The Fulton Fish Market was due to close and relocate to the Bronx in just a few months. “Although the end of the fish market might revive a neighborhood dominated by tourism, many of the new residents are already pining for what will soon become history,” Kaysen wrote. But Terry Harlow mused that “It’ll be nice not to ride my bike in fish guts.”

— compiled by Andrea Riquier