The former 331, 329, 327 Washington Street before Independence Plaza was built

Though the massive yet quite mundane Independence Plaza now dominates the old Washington Market area, there’s a break in the action at Greenwich and Harrison Streets, where you will find a smattering of tiny Federal-style townhouses, six facing Harrison Street. These houses were all built from between 1790 and 1820 and have been conferred designation by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Yet, three are not in their original locations: they were once about a block away, on Washington Street. (Two, 27 and 27A Harrison, were built by Jonas McComb, one of the designers of City Hall).

After the Landmarks designation in the early 1970s the three, 331, 329, 327 Washington, were jacked up and towed by truck to their present location on Harrison Street. The three remaining Harrison Street houses, 29, 31 and 33, have always been there. The first floors of most of these buildings had been given over to commercial establishments, but all the houses were given complete restorations by the Herbert Oppenheimer architectural firm, restoring their old Federal fronts and new interiors after a couple of centuries of wear and tear.

The same buildings today, renumbered, are on a short slice of Washington Street that is a dead end running south from Harrison Street. During the Washington Market era the buildings were thoroughly commercialized, but now they have been returned to their residential origins and have kept a piece of their original street as well.

This is all that remains of Washington Street in the old Washington Market area. Now dominating the area is the architecturally vapid Independence Plaza.

For much more on Washington Street, see this FNY page.


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3 Responses to HARRISON STREET HOUSES, Tribeca

  1. New York-born and raised says:

    Independence Plaza may not be inspiring, but I know middle and lower class people who lived there. I like the old federal-style houses, too, but New York is not, and should not be a museum.

  2. I live right across the street from the HARRISON STREET HOUSES.

  3. Bill says:

    Did anyone ever see the network primetime drama series “Tribeca” that came out in the mid-90s? It failed and probably didn’t last even a full season. I never saw it, but remember seeing commercials for it, which featured Independence Plaza and implied that all or at least some of the characters lived there. I’m sure they must’ve included those Federal buildings more than once for atmosphere.

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