The neighborhood is largely residential, with a mix of tenements, apartment blocks, city housing projects, townhouses, and renovated rowhouses, but its many retail businesses reflect the ethnic and social diversity of the population. Chelsea incorporates the luxury and sophistication of upper Manhattan with downtown’s hip creativity and arts culture. Chelsea is known as one of the centers of the city's art world, with over 200 galleries in the neighborhood.
Architecture, art, and fine dining meet a thriving nightlife scene in Chelsea. Easily accessible while still quiet and restful, Chelsea always serves as the setting for iconic pop culture moments. Chelsea is home to many professionals who are drawn to the prime location of the neighborhood as well as its laid back options for going out. The neighborhood also has some of Manhattan’s most interesting buildings, including the London Terrace Apartment Complex, Cushman Row, the Starett-Lehigh Building and the Art Deco Verizon Building.
There’s no better way soak in these views than a walk on The High Line, a raised train track converted into a park. Chelsea is home to clothing boutiques, and countless restaurants including favorites like The Chelsea Market, Cafeteria, and the John Dory Oyster Bar. For the athletically-inclined, Chelsea Piers, one of the largest athletic complexes in Manhattan (including a driving range, multiple soccer fields and other facilities), is nearby. And if you’re craving a beautiful sunset scene, Chelsea is the place to be.
Chelsea also has a large LGBT population and is known for its diversity and inclusionist attitudes. The stores themselves express the diversity and openness of the neighborhood especially along eighth avenue.
Chelsea takes its name from British Major Thomas Clarke who owned the property starting in 1750. Originally, his land was bound by what is now 21st Street and 24th Street, stretching from the Hudson River to 8th Avenue. His daughter extended the land south to 19th Street. It continued to be built up through the 1830s and 40s for Manhattan’s elite, and then in the 19th Century, became an industrial neighborhood after the construction of the Hudson River Railroad. These two influences, industrialism and elitism, give the neighborhood a unique atmosphere consisting of rowhouses, converted lofts, and more recently, luxury highrises.
The industrialization of the 19th Century brought the working class into Chelsea, specifically Irish immigrants who dominated the work on the Hudson River piers. With the influx of working class immigrants, the neighborhood built more tenement style buildings to house these families.
Towards the end of the 19th Century, the theater district came to exist in Chelsea and the neighborhood quickly became the center of American theater.
In most recent history, Chelsea experience a construction boom in conjunction with the development of the High Line. Notable architects such as Frank Gehry, Shigeru Ban, Neil Denari and Jean Nouvel had projects based in Chelsea and the neighborhood was quickly undergoing gentrification. Smaller business were replaced by chain retailers, fashion stores, and techonology stores and wealthier residents began moving back into the neighborhood.
Pre-war buildings dominate in Chelsea; over 50% of all housing stock was built in or before 1939. However, several new luxury high-rises have substantially increased the overall capacity in the neighborhood.
Galleries, Restaurants, Nightlife, and People Watching
The Chelsea Market, Chelsea Piers, the High Line, and the art galleries all should not be missed.