92nd Street Icon Takes Off In Tribeca

For those who don’t like to trek north of 14th Street, the 92nd Street Y Tribeca has been bringing eclectic programming downtown since opening in 2008.

Setting up a second Manhattan location gave the 136-year-old Upper East Side institution a chance to try something new, said center director Michele Thompson. “The 92nd Street Y was founded in 1874 and attracts people of all ages and backgrounds — about 300,000 every year. With 92YTribeca, we wanted to build a facility that would speak to a particular slice of that pie: young adults who are done with college and are looking for engaging experiences and a community of their own.”

They must be doing something right — the center, which includes an art gallery and café, has already seen more than 60,000 people attend more than 700 events. “We concentrate on creating eclectic, smart cultural programs — in film, music, art, comedy, storytelling and more,” said Thompson. “We’re also committed to collaborating with artists and organizations that are relevant to our audiences, whether it’s Zach Galifianakis or Vashti Bunyan.

“During the daytime we bring the expertise of the 92nd Street Y downtown, with lots of opportunities to explore ideas — whether it’s at a book talk or lecture during lunch, in a writing workshop for moms or in a class on Japanese Flower Arranging.”

Thompson said the idea to expand the 92nd Street Y with a downtown offshoot had been around for a while. “With more and more people living downtown and in Brooklyn, Queens, Hoboken and Jersey City, we saw the cultural scene shift south as well,” she said. “Tribeca is a central location and accessible.  We were looking for a ground-level space that was open to the sidewalk and would allow us to design and build a flexible, multi-purpose facility; this one fit the bill!”

The institution’s Jewish roots live on at the new downtown location. “The 92nd Street Y — of which 92YTribeca is a part — is a proudly Jewish institution, but our mission also mandates that we reach out to the larger community,” she stated. “So there has always been a mixture of secular programs and Jewish culture at 92Y, and 92YTribeca is no different.  We always knew there would be a Jewish component to 92YTribeca, and we host regular Shabbat dinners and holiday programs, as well Jewish music, film and other kinds of performance. It’s one of many strands of programming.

“Being a Jewish organization also means that everything we do — including the secular programming — is informed by core Jewish values like personal and intellectual growth, the joy of living, the importance of family, commitment to the community and respect for the individual.”

The center’s popular café offers a dairy menu; that means fish, but no meat or chicken. “We use local ingredients whenever we can find them, and lots of creative flavors — salads and sandwiches as well as signature dishes like cardamom rice pudding, wasabi tuna deviled eggs and killer hot chocolate.”

Article originally appeared: http://www.westviewnews.org/cms/articles/1068-92nd-street-icon-takes-off-in-tribeca

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