NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

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Chelsea

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One of the most eclectic Manhattan neighborhoods both in architectural style and in sheer variety of lifestyle options, the sprawling neighborhood of Chelsea defies any simple characterization and epitomizes the amazing diversity of New York. Architecturally, the area boasts classic pre-war co-ops such as the landmark London Terrace, stretching an entire block from 8th to 9th Avenues along 23rd and 24th Streets, along with lost-in-time blocks of gorgeous brownstones along 20th, 21st, and 22nd Streets. On the other hand, west Chelsea features cutting edge masterpieces by some of the shining stars of contemporary architecture, including Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue, Frank Gehry’s IAC building, and Shigeru Ban’s metal shutter houses. With a great mix of artist studios, contemporary art galleries, sleek nightclubs, lively bars and coffee shops, and some of the city’s finest dining alongside its most colorful dive bars, Chelsea’s open-minded diversity offers the best of the city for everyone under the sun. The newly opened High Line Park along 10th Avenue has completed the revitalization of the westernmost edge of the neighborhood, now populated by stunning condominiums and exclusive hotels such as The Standard, The Maritime, and The Gansevoort.


Landscape

Chelsea is bordered by West 30th Street to the north, West 14th Street to the South, and Sixth Avenue to the east, and running all the way west to the Hudson River. Peppered with unique pre-war loft buildings from the area’s earlier industrial incarnation, Chelsea’s diversity is exemplified in its incredibly varied architecture, which includes single-family townhomes, low-rise tenements, mid-rise pre-war doorman co-ops, and high-rise starchitect-designed condominiums. West Chelsea is the epicenter of the commercial art community in New York (and arguably the world), boasting nearly 400 art galleries and countless artist studios. The recently completed High Line Park along 10th Avenue added 1.45 miles (2.33km) of lush green space along the western edge of Chelsea, contributing to increased real estate development, boutique shopping, and top-rated restaurants and bars. Chelsea is accessible by the N and R trains on its eastern edge, and the A, C, E, 1, 2, and 3 subway lines to the west.


History

Retired British Major Thomas Clarke purchased what would become the heart of the neighborhood (21st to 24th Streets, from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River) in 1750 and built a large Federal-style home which he named “Chelsea,” after Sir Thomas More’s Chelsea Manor in London. Major Clarke’s daughter and son-in-law expanded the estate down to 19th Street, and their son Clement Clarke Moore (author of “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and of the first Hebrew and Greek lexicons printed in the U.S.) inherited the property in the early 1800s. In the late 1820’s, Moore began donating and developing the land, contributing his apple orchard to the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and eventually dividing up portions of his land and selling these smaller plots to well-to-do New Yorkers. During the mid- to late-1800s, the western edge of Chelsea became home to a large number of working-class immigrants, who worked along the Hudson River piers, truck terminals, warehouses, factories, lumberyards, and breweries. Around the same time, West 23rd Street became the center of American theatre, with Pike’s Opera House (built 1868, demolished 1960) at its nucleus, and Chelsea was an early epicenter of the motion picture industry until World War I. Now home to infinite varieties of ethic food, high-end dining, fashion boutiques, contemporary art, and all conveniences and amenities, Chelsea is the neighborhood that everyone can call “home.”