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Inside Tribeca: New York's Coolest Neighborhood

In New York City, the acronym of the moment is TriBeCa — for Triangle Below Canal Street. Its cobblestoned alleyways, Venetian light, and sleek lofts fashioned from retooled warehouses are fast being rezoned as a global destination. Moving amid the poets and painters who discovered the neighborhood are indie film stars, models, pop singers, and captains of dot-coms. Here, four-star restaurants are wedged a few stone sidewalk slabs away from blue-collar bistros, and postprandial partying is never far behind. In front of the Tribeca Grand Hotel, stalkerazzi eagerly wait for Matt Damon or Uma Thurman to amble by. Yet for all the uptown converts flocking south of Canal Street, TriBeCa's glamour still comes with lots of breathing room.

CREATURE COMFORTS
The only world-class accommodations in this Bermuda Triangle of low-key-ness are in the Tribeca Grand Hotel (2 Ave. of the Americas; 877/519-6600 or 212/519-6600, fax 212/519-6700; doubles from $449). Open less than a year, it has held VIP screenings for Traffic, Chocolat, and Quills. Last fall, at Diane Von Fürstenberg's fashion show, guests (Barry Diller, Pia Getty, Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece) received key cards to the Grand's penthouse suite as their invitations to the after-party. The neighborhood's equivalent for the pet set is the Wagging Tail (35412 Greenwich St.; 212/285-4900, fax 212/285-1194; www.thewaggingtail.com), a cat-and-dog boardinghouse and day spa that lets pet owners check on their animals via Web-cam.

"I notice the change when Realtors tell me how much I could get for my building. To me it's still just a big hunk of junk. You know how when you're a fat kid and you grow up to be really sexy, but in your mind you're still a fat kid?Part of me still thinks of TriBeCa as a big junkyard." —Ross Bleckner, artist

MIND TRIPS
Those embarking on a spiritual journey should drop in to Sufi Books (227 West Broadway; 212/334-5212), well stocked with tomes on mysticism and enlightenment. A block away is the Sufi mosque, Masjid al-Farah (245 West Broadway), with its stained-glass calligraphy windows; open to the public on Thursday evenings and Friday afternoons.

DESIGNERS' ROW
The keenest of the Wallpaper generation — for whom home furnishings have out-hipped fashion — consider Franklin Street to be their version of Carnaby Street. Within two blocks are crammed a dozen of the most happening boutiques for Scandinavian furniture (the new "antiques") and those ubiquitous Lexon radios. Totem (71 Franklin St.; 212/925-5506) was the advance guard with its graphic, pigment-rich makeovers of everything from mouse pads to doorstops. Antik (104 Franklin St.; 212/343-0471) represents a blonder sensibility in its love of all things fifties and Scandinavian. R 20th Century (82 Franklin St.; 212/343-7979) has honed a mid-century-modern collection from all around the world. Championing wood are John Kelly (77 Franklin St.; 212/625-3355), with his walnut bow beds and neo-Shaker spindle chairs, and Intérieurs (149 Franklin St.; 212/343-0800), with its Parisian neo-Modernist line. Newest concept on the block: Dune (88 Franklin St.; 212/925-6171), opening this spring with a retro-futurist vibe by design director Nick Dine, son of artist Jim Dine. Nearby, Lafco (200 Hudson St.; 212/925-0001) expands home design to include decorative Portuguese soaps and beauty products.

"The heart of this neighborhood is the Fourth Estate newspaper shop. It's gossip central. JFK Jr. used to hang out there, and I see movie people in there all the time. That's where you get all the dirt about what's going on at Miramax."—Kate Betts, editor-in-chief, Harper's Bazaar

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