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800.ELLIMAN

4.4 out of 10

Civic Center

Ranked 38th best neighborhood in Manhattan
40.7119282003156 -74.0045987564617
Great for
  • Public Transport
  • Internet Access
  • Medical Facilities
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Resale or Rental Value
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Shopping Options
Who lives here?
  • Tourists
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Country Lovers
  •  
  •  

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
2yrs+

"City Hall And Thensome"

The Civic Center area encompasses City Hall, The South Street Seaport, and the court buildings.

For Manhattanites, this is where the mayor works, the courts and the Manhattan Municipal building are (as well as One Police Plaza), and New York branches of federal services like Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation are located.

For tourists, this is a glimpse at the "official" part of New York where the most powerful people in New York and the federal government pass through daily. Nearby is the South Street Seaport, a full seaport featuring a mall, food court, and nearby exhibits and shows.

Pace University is also located in the Civic Center neighborhood and often holds conferences, meetings, forums, and speeches. The area is also right next to the Brooklyn Bridge which allows people to walk across into Brooklyn.

There is not a whole lot else Civic Center has to offer, certainly not many residential opportunities. Most New Yorkers likely dread heading here to pay off tickets, appear in court or jury duty, or other government related activity. For tourists, a chance to glance at the inner workings of the big city and enjoy some of the best Bourbon Chicken New York has to offer in the South Street Seaport food court.
Pros
  • South Street Seaport
  • quiet
Cons
  • jury duty
  • Few restaurants outside of the South Street Seaport area
  • boring
Recommended for
  • Tourists
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
2yrs+

"Going to court? This is the place!"

The Civic Center neighborhood of Manhattan isn't really what I'd call a neighborhood. It's more of a district filled with court buildings. If you work for the city or the courts, it's a great place to live because you have no commute. But there aren't a lot of apartment possibilities in this small area other than a handful of high rises.

Primarily, this area is for going to court, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, or visiting Pace University. Pace is where "Inside the Actors Studio" is filmed, and there are frequent events there worth attending even if you aren't a student. Of course, the Civic Center is also a prime tourist area. You can have someone take your picture on the famous court steps and pretend you're Sam Waterston in "Law and Order."

The buildings here are stately and infinitely photogenic, and as long as I've lived in NYC, I never tire of seeing the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge. In summer, it's a lovely walk over the water. The Civic Center area borders the Financial District, and the South Street Seaport is sometimes considered to be a part of the neighborhood. The Seaport is a must-see for tourists and a lot of fun in general. It can be crowded, but it's right on the water. Locals even brave the crowds to go there.
Pros
  • South Street Seaport
  • You can get married here
  • You'll probably end up here on jury duty at some point
Cons
  • dead at night
  • Few restaurants outside of the South Street Seaport area
  • not really residential
Recommended for
  • Tourists
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
2yrs+

"The Law & Order Life"

I have a soft spot for this area, even though I realize why other people don't like it. There isn't much to DO, but there's a lot to take in and absorb. I would rank this as one of the best neighborhoods for people watching.

Hovering between Chinatown and the Financial District, you're sort of in between worlds, which can be oddly quiet, like the eye of a storm. I've spent several lunches sitting on the steps of 60 Center Street where people file in for jury duty and may or may not get out. Lawyers, cops, witnesses and defendants also file in, casting an array of characters across these famous steps.

This isn’t a great place to eat, shop, or live. It’s a place where you can sit and listen which is an important thing to do from time to time. Several small “parks” (rows of benches at least) provide plenty of places to plant yourself and observe city life.

If you live here you’ll have easy access to transportation, but it’s frustrating to weave through all the other people coming and going from work. Still, major express trains make this a convenient, if not desirable place to live.
Pros
  • great for people watching
  • affordable rents
Cons
  • dead at night
  • not really residential
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
2yrs+

"Jury Duty and Breathtaking Views"

There’s not a whole lot to do in the tiny neighborhood known as Civic Center, even if it is the hub of the city’s court system. New Yorkers associate the area with dreaded chores like jury duty, court dates, fighting parking tickets, etc. If you’ve never visited the area, it’s worth a trip there once, if just to see the brains behind Manhattan – here you’ll see City Hall and City Hall Park, a small but lush park with views of the surrounding legal buildings. The architecture is more old world and more attractive than that of buildings, say, midtown, but not as ornate and intriguing as architecture in areas like Sutton Place. In other words, you wouldn’t be missing anything if you didn’t take it in, but if you’re there anyway, you might as well.

The real attraction is South Street Seaport, which has pros and cons that weigh out to make it a place you perhaps visit once a year, on a particularly nice summer day. The port is always packed to the gills with tourists, and its stores cater to them instead of New Yorkers, featuring the stores they can find in their Michigan and Kentucky malls. But it’s undeniable that you can have yourself a lovely warm-weather day here, strolling the cobblestone streets, enjoying the views of boats and sitting down to relax before the sights of the Brooklyn Bridge and, of course, Brooklyn itself. You can catch a boat ride here, and you can cool off in the little mall – though you won’t want to do much shopping here. The strip is lined with decent but pricey seafood restaurants, but nothing in the way of nightlife. You can catch a food market along the street bordering the port, serving up the best culinary options in the area, like fresh-baked baklava, tea-flavored popsicles, gourmet pickles and more. It might be crowded and it might be touristy, but getting to be waterside for the day is a refreshing little break from daily city life.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • South Street Seaport
Cons
  • dead at night
  • Few restaurants outside of the South Street Seaport area
  • boring
Recommended for
  • Tourists
2/5 rating details
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
2yrs+

"A little bit of Every Mall America in New York City"

I feel a bit apathetic about this area, to be honest. Last summer I actually found myself at South Street Seaport – which is nothing more than a glorified mall that doesn’t even really have that great a selection of stores – a few times. There is an outdoor mall of sorts across the street from the aforementioned glorified mall, which caters to wearers of such overpriced brands as Abercrombie & Fitch. This is not a New Yorker’s sort of neighborhood – really I’m not sure if people actually live around here or not, it seems more downtown business-oriented, besides the shopping. In any case, I certainly wouldn’t want to. Besides a spectacular view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Seaport, I can’t really see how this area attracts so many tourists, when the stores they offer in the area are really the ones you see in every mall in America.
Pros
  • affordable rents
Cons
  • dead at night
  • Few restaurants outside of the South Street Seaport area
  • crime rates
Recommended for
  • Tourists
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
2yrs+

"Is this even really a neighborhood?"

Some of the buildings such as City Hall are pretty and old, but it's still really not much to gawk at. There isn't much to do, eat or see here except for two notable things: South Street Sea port and the City Park.
The City Hall park isn't much of a park to see compared to the other great ones in the city. But, if you're a history buff, you'll appreciate going to the park and getting a good look at the place that Jack London lived. Yep, he lived a little rough for a while (in the park) and earned his way by telling stories around the fountain at night. Pretty cool.
The other thing worth taking a look at is the South Street Seaport. It was The port for New York in the 19th century. You can walk the cobble stone streets to all of the little shops and actually feel the sun on your face because there aren't any massive, new buildings obstructing the rays. An afternoon there makes you feel like you're in a time machine . . . or San Francisco . . or maybe a cross between the two.
Pros
  • affordable rents
  • quiet
Cons
  • boring
  • crime rates
  • dead at night
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
2yrs+

"Place to visit, wouldn't want to live here"

The Civic Center is a small patch of downtown Manhattan that encompasses some of the major municipal buildings. As such, it is a really strange place, one which you wouldn't really want to visit unless you've got official business or had a run-in with the law. Neither is it an attractive place to visit in the evenings, when it is nearly deserted and probably not very safe. However, some of the municipal buildings are beautiful and built on a grand scale intended to awe, so the area is worth at least one afternoon walk-through to appreciate the architecture. City Hall has a Renaissance facade and a dramatic interior hall with a circular, domed staircase. The Old New York County Courthouse at 52 Chambers is also interesting, with glass walkways, and the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank building has an absolutely impressive huge hall. Other beautiful buildings include: the Surrogate's Court at 31 Chambers, the New York County Courthouse at 60 Centre Street, and the Municipal Building at Centre and Chambers. The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway is also an exceptional sight. For food, your best bet is to head to Chinatown, since there isn't a lot in the Civic Center worth recommending.

One very vibrant and very interesting performing art and dance venue, Dance New Amsterdam, is located in the area at 280 Broadway. It seems an unlikely location, but DNA nurtures some of the important dancers and choreographers working in this city.
Pros
  • South Street Seaport
  • You can get married here
  • You'll probably end up here on jury duty at some point
Cons
  • dead at night
  • Few restaurants outside of the South Street Seaport area
  • not really residential
Recommended for
  • Tourists
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
2yrs+

"The place to go for jury duty - and not much else"

It's hard to discuss the Civic Center as a neighborhood proper. Defined by the presence of federal and local government buildings like City Hall - wedding location extraordinaire, One Polic Plaza, Foley Square, and other official buildings, the district isn't exactly a place one would tend to live or visit except on a specific official capacity. For tourists, it's a historical look into the city's storied past - the Courthouse, for example, or the Brooklyn Bridge - whereas for residents, the area is synonymous with nuisances: jury duty, for example, or appearing in court for traffic violations.

One part of the Civic Centre is particularly worth seeing, however. That is the gloriously revitalized South Street Seaport, a historic port that combines museums, the famous Fulton Fish Market, and stunning views with a new and trendy nightlife, culture, and dining scene - mostly concentrated on (you guessed it) fish dishes! In the summer, the movable Beer Garden tent sets up shop here, a glorious art-nouveau style circus tent playing host to avant garde and alternative music acts like Vienna Teng and Spring Awakening music impresario Duncan Sheik.
Pros
  • You can get married here
  • South Street Seaport
  • You'll probably end up here on jury duty at some point
Cons
  • not really residential
  • Few restaurants outside of the South Street Seaport area
Recommended for
  • Tourists
Uraniumfish
Uraniumfish For the record, I think South Street Seaport is technically in the Financial District nearby, though only a short walk away.
2yrs+
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3/5
2yrs+

"Nice, but don't expect to find anything exciting unless you're looking to fulfill lunch break needs"

The Civic Center neighborhood is relatively tiny, and chances are that if you pass through it you will hardly know that you did (unless you were already aware of it). The little patch of concrete in downtown Manhattan doesn’t offer much to do unless you are a church-going sort. There is a plethora of coffee houses (probably to cater to the great demand they receive from the local business men who show up in the area to go to work). The restaurants in the area also cater to business men/women on their lunch breaks, and are generally stop-and-shop delis.

Unranked Streets in Civic Center

Centre St

2.5/5
"Government and Green"
40.7132664321693 -74.0039425872131

Chambers St

2.5/5
"Beautiful, old governmental buildings"
40.7139235146904 -74.0057844957718

Cliff St

3.5/5
"Great Place to Eat and Shop"
40.7085640007229 -74.0043790009875

Elk St

3.5/5
"convenient parking for downtown and government workers"
40.7140243787177 -74.0044137050359

Foley Sq

2.5/5
"At Foley Square"
40.7139087503654 -74.0031028050884

Gold St

2/5
40.7098598779564 -74.0046018257387

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