Midtown and the Financial District have plenty of big buildings, deli buffets and transportation, but they also have too many crowds and too little charm. Many companies, particularly in the booming tech sector, are moving into neighborhoods that offer the easy transit options of traditional commercial districts with less noise, more amenities and the kind of aesthetics that make employees excited to come to the office every day. Or, at least, more likely to love where they work. New York’s best neighborhoods to work in have a more welcoming character than the corporate jungle of skyscrapers and suits in Midtown. We’ve rated the most desirable areas on a scale of 1-10 on various quality-of-life criteria, including transportation, food options during the day, visual aesthetics, park and green space, noise and crowds, and after-work social options. Here are the five best neighborhoods to work in, if you’re lucky enough to have a choice.
Like the landmark Flatiron building that serves as the neighborhood’s namesake, this revamped area was not always well loved. After a long period in the shadows of commercial Midtown to the north and happening Union Square to the south, Flatiron now has the best of both worlds. Madison Square Park serves as Flatiron’s centerpiece, an outdoor oasis with free wifi that allows anyone to work under the shade, and the park’s popular burger joint, Shake Shack, is a food mecca and networking hub all at once. And across the street, Mario Batali’s Eataly is just about everything an office slave could ask for in a one-stop lunch spot. Flatiron has been a particularly hot spot for smaller start ups in New York’s burgeoning Silicon Alley, with loft-like office space that caters to their needs in plentiful supply. Social networking giant Tumblr and news site Buzzfeed are among those situated nearby. The Ace Hotel, with its popular food and drink options, is another symbol of the changing look and feel of the area, and it provides the perfect spot for post-work socializing.
N and R trains at 23rd and 28th Sts., 6 at 23rd and 28th Sts.
Shake Shack and Eataly are at the heart of a fast-growing food scene.
The Flatiron building is a gem, but the neighborhood of architecturally significant and historic properties.
Park space: 8
Madison Square Park, enough said
After work: 7
The Ace Hotel; close to Union Square, the East Village, Murray Hill and Chelsea.
Noise and crowds: 6
Less traveled with tourists than midtown; less traffic, too.
Chelsea’s ascension to the top of the New York workplace heap was cemented by Google’s choice to house their NYC headquarters in the neighborhood. Google paid 1.9 billion to purchase a block-long 18-story building with 2.9 million square feet of workspace on Eighth Avenue, picking the location because the neighborhood’s combination of cafes and nightlife draw in the type of employees that Google moved east to appeal to. Google is emblematic of the many larger tech companies that call Chelsea home, like IAC, which owns Match.com and CollegeHumor.com, and which constructed a new building of its own on Eleventh Avenue, designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry. Soon, Google will make the neighborhood an even better place to work by setting up the largest free wifi zone in the city. Additionally, for those looking for unique green space, Chelsea abuts the vaunted High Line, which snakes along the west side of Manhattan.
C and E at 23rd St., A, C, E, and L at 14th St., 1 at 23rd St., 1, 2, 3, F, M, L, at 14th St, F and M at 23rd St.
Ninth and Tenth Aves have exploded with restaurants, and there’s also lunch mecca Chelsea Market.
Art deco buildings and warehouses converted to art galleries alternate with tree-lined streets, brownstones and newer luxury apartment buildings.
Park space: 7
The High Line is widely praised for good reason
After work: 8
one of the best nightlife areas in the city
Noise and crowds: 7
Chelsea is more residential than most business areas, which means there’s a lot more peace and quiet.
A historic manufacturing district located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges along a prime chunk of East-River waterfront in Brooklyn, Dumbo is known as the artsy counterpart to nearby commercial district Downtown Brooklyn. But while Downtown Brooklyn has remained complacent, Dumbo has been busy attracting hip start ups and creative industries drawn to the neighborhood by the cheaper-than-Manhattan rents and alluring aesthetics. These assets, along with great restaurants, design stores and access to the beautiful new Brooklyn Bridge Park, have combined to make Dumbo a truly desirable destination for office space. In 2011, Dumbo became the first neighborhood in New York to get free wifi, which means you can get your work done while sitting on a bench staring out across the East River. Arts and crafts e-commerce giant Etsy and technology education pioneer Wireless Generation are among those that have relocated to Dumbo.
F at York St., A and C at High St.
Surprising variety for a relatively small neighborhood
Re-purposed warehouses and loft spaces are alluring, particularly when framed by the East River, Brooklyn Bridge, and large swaths of green space.
Park space: 9
Brooklyn Bridge Park is Dumbo’s killer app.
After work: 6
Hip and getting hipper, the area has several great bars, and it’s also close to Vinegar Hill and Fort Greene, which are getting cooler by the day.
Noise and crowds: 9
Dumbo on a weekday feels like a private oasis.
SoHo has for years been known as a retail hotbed for the fashion set, who meander the boutiques of Prince St. and West Broadway on weekdays (SoHo on weekends is another story). However, in the distinctive cast-iron buildings that mark this grid of streets between Houston and Canal Streets, new start ups have been grabbing office space as quickly as they can get their hands on it. Shared work spaces and incubators that have been a boon to small and growing start ups in the region have made Soho their home, including multiple WeWork spaces, Skillshare, and Soho Tech Labs, as well as a 160 Varick Street incubator location sponsored by New York City itself. Soho is not only for start ups which haven’t generated revenue yet; giant social networker Foursquare is here, as is scheduling powerhouse Zocdoc. Close to cheap eats in Chinatown, with excellent mid-level restaurants for lunch (particularly in neighboring NoLIta) and numerous bars to grab a drink at after work, employees at these companies look forward to their daily trek. The neighborhood is at the heart of the city, with close access to everything that makes New York great.
6, B, D, F, V at Bleecker St./Broadway-Lafayette, 6 at Spring St., N and R at Prince St., N, R, Q, J, Z, 6 at Canal St., C and E at Spring St., A, C, E at Canal St., 1 at Houston St, 1 at Canal St.
Soho is packed with upscale restaurants and attractive mid-priced lunch spots, with great cheap eats nearby in NoLIta and Chinatown.
The cast iron buildings of Soho make it one of the most distinctive neighborhoods in New York.
Park space: 5
Washington Square Park is a few short blocks up for an outdoor lunch; a few smaller neighborhood parks dot SoHo as well.
After work: 8
Packed with great bars; near other areas packed with great bars.
Noise and crowds: 6
On weekdays, SoHo is less packed with visitors, but still packed enough with NYC creative types. Compared to Midtown, however, it’s like a baby’s nursery.
Beautiful TriBeCa is known to New Yorkers as the location of some of the swankiest residences in the city. However, those who may not be able to afford to live in the neighborhood can experience the many charms that make TriBeCa so liveable, which is why it has grown into a popular work spot as well. Rounding out the southern end of New York’s Silicon Alley, Tribeca is home to start ups like Tutorspree, a site geared towards helping individuals find private tutors, and more established internet companies like job information site Vault.com. Walking the streets in Tribeca to and from work is a stroll through the city’s history, as the distinctive architectural styles play against each other; from the red-brick warehouses to the art deco towers and post Civil War neo-Renaissance style buildings. Hudson River Park lines the western boundary of TriBeCa, one of the most serene and scenic green spaces in all of New York City.
A, C, E at Canal St. 1 at Franklin Street, 1, 2, 3 at Chambers St.
Fantastic options, but the downside is that they veer on the expensive side
Some of the most beautiful architecture in the city in a compressed area.
Park space: 7
Hudson River Park offers a magnificent vista and great green space.
After work: 6
Expensive, but plenty of solid options.
Noise and crowds: 8
The beauty of working in a residential neighborhood is that the people who live their care about quality of life.