A Love Story: ‘We Built a New Life with Each Other in Lower Manhattan’

Tara Clark and Matt Cooney (Photo by Rick and Bernadette Johnston of Narrative Images Photography, San Diego, CA)

The Downtown Alliance proudly announces the winner of the Lower Manhattan Love Story, a contest in which 45 people told us how they fell in love in – or with – the district. We were amazed and impressed by the entries, which spoke of favorite spots and romantic encounters. We’d like to thank our judges from Andaz Wall Street, La Maison du Chocolat, Greenwich Jewelers, and Flowers of the World. We’d now like to present you with the winning entry from Tara Clark.

My fiancé, Matt Cooney, and I met in San Diego in February 2009 while out with friends for a night of dinner and drinks at a bar. He is a flight officer for FA-18 fighter jets for the Marine Corps and he was due to leave for Japan in two weeks to serve a six-month deployment.  We decided to stay in touch while he was gone, and got to know each other better during that time through our e-mails, letters and phone calls.  He even called me on my birthday (not knowing it) and made my birthday wish to hear from him come true (which he didn’t know about at the time, either).

When he returned to San Diego in September 2009, we got together for our first date in Laguna Beach.  Sparks flew, and we immediately started falling in love.  He took me on my second date the next weekend to a U2 concert — my favorite band.  We were inseparable after that, even when we discovered a month into dating that Matt had been transferred to New York City.  After three months of dating, we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and decided to move to New York together to pursue our dreams and further grow our love.  I had to leave my friends, family and job behind, but as long as we were together we would be happy.

We decided to make our new home in the Financial District for several reasons.  We loved the small neighborhood feeling we got when we walked down Stone Street and how quickly we made friends.  The history of Lower Manhattan charmed us as well — we were charmed by how we uncovered historical spots every day.  The easy access to Battery Park, running paths on the Hudson River and running over the Brooklyn Bridge were appealing to us because we are admittedly running addicts.  Most importantly, Matt felt compelled to live in the area where our country was so suddenly and heartlessly attacked — because the events of 9/11 altered his remaining education at the Naval Academy and he dedicated himself to serve his country as an officer in the Marine Corps in a time of war.  He felt his service was in rightful memory of those that were lost — a reminder of what he works for each day — and I supported him fully.

We built a new life with each other in Lower Manhattan over the next year and a half.  One of our favorite things to do on Sundays was to take a walk together in Battery Park and talk about our future.  This last August, Matt suggested walking to one of our favorite restaurants, Gigino Wagner Park, for dinner.  As we walked along our typical path, Matt completely surprised me and proposed to me!  Lower Manhattan means so much to us because the life that we built here together has further solidified the love we felt when we first met.  We are getting married August 18, 2012 — exactly one year from the date Matt proposed — and we cannot wait for the next step for our lives in New York together.