by Judy Stein
Chelsea Market, Chelsea Piers and Madison Square Garden are a few highlights of this Manhattan neighborhood transitioning from a predominantly industrial area to one where living, shopping, eating and entertainment take center stage.
Just to the north of the meat packing district, from 14th to 34th Streets, between 5th Avenue and the Hudson River, you will find Chelsea, another formerly industrial area of New York City on the rise.
The old world charm of elegantly restored pre-war garden apartments and brownstones, with flower boxes, wrought-iron railings, and polished oak entries, can still be found. But this gay-friendly area, formerly known as the Flower District, has become one of the prime targets for conversion of industrial buildings into luxury lofts.
A mecca for gourmet food lovers is the Chelsea Market, at 75 9th Ave., stretching between 15th and 16th Streets.
The building originally was the old Nabisco plant, where in 1898, the Oreo Cookie was born.
In 1997, Chelsea Market opened with a couple of tenants, and today you will find nearly 20 specialty shops to eat, drink and buy to your heart's desire. The famous Food TV Network offices are housed upstairs.
Don't miss Amy's Bread, an outstanding artisan bakery, with floor to ceiling windows, where you can watch the bakers perform their daily operations, from forming the breads to loading the ovens with conveyor belts full of baguettes.
Another highlight of this district is the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex, a 30-acre, $120 million, privately financed waterfront recreation village located between 17th and 23rd Streets along the Hudson River.
The complex includes Piers 59, 60, 61 and 62, and features a golf club, a health club, a roller rink and extreme sports park, an ice rink, a bowling alley, the Chelsea Brewing Company, several events and education centers, and more. You can watch golfers perfecting their swings from the Hudson River.
The history of these piers is fascinating. The piers were officially opened in 1910 but three years earlier, before the 8-year long construction was even complete, the first of the new luxury liners, the Lusitania and Mauretania, were docked there.
The architectural firm of Warren and Wetmore, which was designing Grand Central Terminal at the same time, transformed the existing hodge-podge of run-down waterfront structures into a premier port.
But 50 years later, the advent of the jet plane and large container ships requiring more involved docking facilities rendered the docks obsolete, and they fell into neglect and disrepair. By the 1970's, the piers were slated for demolition to make way for a highway, but the plan failed, and the property was sold to the developers of the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex.
Just like in the meat packing district, many trendy boutiques, cafes, grocery stores, and art galleries have now taken residence in Chelsea. Visit Chelsea, the Meat Packing District and most of Manhattan on a Minibus Tour to see and learn more about these neighborhoods.
In the photo to the righttaken while on a helicopter tourthe Chelsea Piers are at the lower left, Chelsea Market is to the right and Madison Square Garden is the round building near the upper center of the picture just in front of the tall dark building (55 story 1 Penn Plaza). Chelsea Park is near the center of the picture and you can see the Empire State Building to the upper right.
A West Chelsea Zoning Proposal to create the Special West Chelsea District to promote development, facilitate the reuse of the High Line elevated rail line and enhance the neighborhood's art gallery district was approved in June of 2005.
The High Line links the Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea and Meatpacking Districts. The first section of the High Line opened on June 8, 2009. A second section opened June 9, 2011.
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