New Yorkers looking for a lively community that’s rich in history could find exactly that in the Seaport/Fulton neighborhood.
The South Street Seaport, at Pier 17, is home to some of the city’s oldest architecture and has thrived for centuries as a dynamic commercial hub.
And though it has undergone major changes in the last few years, experts say the Seaport maintains its industrial charm.
In terms of dining, shopping and entertainment, the Seaport “has everything you’d want in a two-block stretch,” said Whitney Barrat, executive director for the Old Seaport Alliance, a community organization that advocates for local businesses and residents.
Along Fulton Street by the pier, visitors can relax in a public plaza surrounded by a shopping strip, offering everything from the Lee Lee’s Forest fashion boutique to the Farm Candy artisanal edibles shop.
For dining, there’s a wide range of restaurants, from Ambrose Beer & Lobster on Fulton Street to Dorlan’s Tavern on Front Street. And from Memorial Day through December, the Smorgasburg traveling food market set up six food vendors and two giant bars on Fulton Street.
Bars like the Artist’s Loft on Front Street, which is also a gallery, and Cowgirl Sea-Horse, which hosts trivia nights, live music and other events, are available for night life.
Debra Florez, a 52-year-old, three-year Seaport/Fulton resident, said small businesses are the heart of the neighborhood.
“I’m happy to have any tourists stop me and ask for a good place to eat in the neighborhood,” said Florez, a commercial photographer. “I can offer them a dozen in one block and they’re all going to be fantastic.”
The nabe also offers plenty of fun activities. There’s a community garden and dog-park on Peck Slip between Pearl and Water streets, and the South Street Seaport Museum provides walking tours of the neighborhood and educational boat trips around New York Harbor.
Two-year resident and painter Maggy Pelissier, 63, enjoys spending her free time at the Bowne & Co. Stationers on Water Street, which is part of the museum and first operated as a printing press in 1775. Today, it sells letterpress cards and educates visitors on small batch printing.
“They’re always presenting things like stationery that are very interesting and you don’t see anywhere else,” Pelissier said of the shop. “You can take classes over there to learn how to print on an old machine.”
For those who want to commute uptown or elsewhere in the city, it’s easy to do so with more than eight subway lines and buses. People can also take the ferry to New Jersey or Brooklyn.
“You’re just a few blocks away from any transportation to get anywhere into the city,” said Randall Smith, a sales broker with Citi Habitats who specializes in the nabe.
With its cobblestone streets and many renovated landmark buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries, such as The Peck Slip School, a post office-turned-elementary school built in 1950 at 1 Peck Slip, Florez said the Seaport gives off the vibe of a small European village.
“We live in a seaside community in the middle of New York City. As much as we have a lot of tourists, at least in our little block on Front Street, it feels like this small-town neighborhood,” she said. “I have to pinch myself sometimes.”
But juxtaposed with the rustic-feel of the Seaport, housing in Fulton consists largely of low-rise condos and luxury lofts in century-old buildings.
The Historic Seaport Lofts at 257 Water St., for example, are 20 rentals located in a six-story, brick building built in 1900, according to StreetEasy.
“It’s not the typical cookie-cutter apartments you’d see,” Smith said of residences in the area.
“You get these sort of big, giant loft spaces that, [for example] used to be an old stovetop factory, near the Brooklyn Bridge,” he explained, referring to the Historic Seaport Lofts. “It’s this old factory that’s been totally renovated into an elevator building. Now, people want that character. That’s why people love downtown so much.”
And then there’s the hard-to-miss New York by Gehry, a 76-story rental tower on Spruce Street, where residents can enjoy stunning views of the city skyline, including the Brooklyn Bridge, New York Harbor and Empire State Building.
But the beautiful Fulton digs come at a steep price.
The median sales price in Fulton was $1,067,081 in 2015, up from $710,092 in 2013, according to StreetEasy. Manhattan as a whole had a median sales price of $976,594 in 2015, the listings site found.
Rental prices in the nabe also crept up in recent years. The median rent rose from $3,498 in 2013 to $3,738 in 2015, according to StreetEasy. The overall Manhattan median rent was $3,200 last year.
Despite the high prices, locals say the Seaport/Fulton area — with its vibrant food scene, waterfront and endless activities — is worth it.
“I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” Florez said.
The Seaport/Fulton area is a historic district next to the Financial District that’s bordered by Broadway to the northwest and Park Row to the northeast. Its western boundary is John Street, which meets the East River as its southern border. To the east, the nabe is bordered by Dover Street and Frankfort Street.