by Mike Errico, 12/29/2010
As neighborhood transformations go, few rival Chelsea. A mid-'90s migration of art galleries from SoHo to the lower-priced industrial spaces on the west side brought with it an explosion of culture, architecture and celebrity. Here, it's normal to spot punk icon Debbie Harry walking her dog, Bobby Flay shopping at Whole Foods or the crew of Law & Order: SVU crowding the sidewalk with cameras and lights. The High Line, an elevated train line that has been converted into a walking park, transcends the traffic and provides one of the most priceless commodities in the City: an unobstructed view. Come nighttime, revelers can hit dive bars featuring duct-taped banquettes or jockey with clubgoers for entry to some of NYC's most rollicking spots. And while Chelsea still retains vestiges of its rugged history—visitors devoted to rock 'n' roll still make the pilgrimage to the Chelsea Hotel to see where Jimi Hendrix, Tom Waits and Janis Joplin once partied—its edge is now complemented by warm, homegrown shops, cozy dining rooms and more.