Neighborhood Highlights

Must-See Chelsea

by Heather Liang, 11/12/2014

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  • Chelsea has seen many transformations in its time. It began as the property of retired British Major Thomas Clarke, who bought 94 acres of land in 1750 and named it after the manor of Chelsea, London. From that point, the land changed hands a number of times and was mostly used as a place of industry, with freight lines, warehouses and passenger shipping dominating the area through the rest of the century. In the 1820s, Chelsea was developed into a residential region—genteel townhouse blocks and the neo-Gothic General Theological Seminary went up during the century, providing a counterpoint to the area's manufacturing nature. The neighborhood became home, post–Cuban Revolution, to a number of Cuban-Chinese immigrants, some of whom opened restaurants in the 1960s and '70s. While the majority of these have closed down, a strong Latino presence remains. Following the police raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in 1969, Chelsea also became representative of tolerance and the rebellion against sexual-orientation discrimination. During the 1970s many within the LGBT community fled to Chelsea, and the gay and lesbian presence in this portion of the City has been strong ever since. It was also around this time that nightclubs—followed later by galleries—looking to pay lower rents started gobbling up space in Chelsea, though it was really the 1990s that the neighborhood became known as the City's gay nexus as well as the place for art lovers.

    Thus what was once a seemingly forgotten neighborhood, whose primary purpose was industrial in nature—housing defunct railroads and old warehouses that have been developed into the High Line and art spaces, respectively—has become one of the most sought-after places to live in New York City. Buzzing with culture but maintaining a residential feel, it packs a punch in terms of things to do, see and eat. The following slides cover the best of the attractions, including Chelsea Market, Chelsea Piers and the aforementioned High Line, along with where to go for art, food and nightlife.

    Where It Is: Chelsea is roughly located west of Broadway over to the Hudson River, from West 14th to West 30th Streets.

    How to Get There: Take the A, C, E or L to 14th Street-Eighth Avenue; the C, E to 23rd Street; the 1 to 18th, 23rd or 28th Street; or the F or M to 14th or 23rd Street.

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