Chelsea roughly covers the area in Manhattan from 14th Street north to about 23rd Street and from Sixth Avenue west to the Hudson River. The Chelsea district was named after the Chelsea area of London by a British solider when the area was still largely undeveloped.
There was a period in time when Chelsea was a high class neighborhood and then it became a neighborhood of poor and working class people as well as a number of artists looking for affordable rent.
Because Chelsea is a very large area it would be difficult to say that it is either rich or poor. There are pockets of both throughout Chelsea including a number of housing projects.
The High Line Park runs through Chelsea and down to the Meatpacking District. The High Line Park was an elevated train track that was mostly used for transporting dangerous goods. It is now a fabulous park open to all. There are very fine examples of modern architecture and views of the city as well as benches and clean public restrooms. I suggest starting at the top of the High Line at 34th Street and walking down to the Whitney Museum and the Chelsea Market.
The Chelsea Market is in the building that housed the Nabisco factory and it is the location where they invented Oreo cookies. As well as the many boutiques and restaurants that are in the space now, the Chelsea Market is home to YouTube, The Food Network and Major League Baseball to name a few.
Directly across the street from the Chelsea Market is Google’s NYC headquarters and it is part of what is called Silicon Alley. New York has a sense of humor! Behind the Chelsea Market is building designed by Frank Gehry and made to look like an iceberg as a tribute to the Titanic which was supposed to dock across the street. It is the IAC Corporation building and it’s home to About.com, Ask.com and Match.com.
Chelsea has an amazing gallery district with about 100 galleries. Some of the galleries are international; and others are smaller. The great thing about galleries is that they are free! You can spend a day gallery hopping and see works from major artists past and present as well as lesser know artists.
Chelsea Piers is a major sporting complex in NYC and has about every kind of sport that exists. It is also home to Law and Order Studios. Across the street there is a woman’s prison that shares a wall with luxury condos! Only in NYC!
There are so many things to explore in Chelsea that it isn’t possible to write about everything here. So the last thing I will mention about Chelsea here is the famous Chelsea Hotel. Dylan Thomas was said to have drunk himself to death at the White Horse Tavern and collapsed in his room at the Chelsea. He was taken to hospital where he didn’t recover.
Other people who lived in the Chelsea Hotel includes Allen Ginsburg, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Leonard Cohen, Andy Warhol, Madonna, William Burroughs and many many more.
The Meatpacking District is a very small area in Manhattan that is surrounded by Chelsea, Greenwich Village and the West Village. It was originally called Gansevoort Market and in the 1920s was a meatpacking and distribution center.
The area now houses many designer boutiques, posh hotels and classy restaurants and bars. But as the area has been historic district status, there is a limit to how much the looks are able to be changed. Many of the streets are the original Belgian blocks (not cobblestone) and you will see the overhangs on the buildings which is where trucks backed into.
Things to do in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District include:
The Chelsea Market
The Whitney Museum
The High Line Park