Sitting to the south of 34th Street and to the north of 14th Street and the West Village, much of Chelsea shares a similar feeling as that neighborhood — albeit on the grid instead of the Village’s charming if baffling maze of streets. You’ll find cozy restaurants and independent boutiques on side streets and a busy nightlife scene along Eighth Avenue (and nearby). The neighborhood also has, however, some things you won’t find south of 14th Street, including around 200 art galleries, mostly in the 20s west of 10th Avenue. The High Line, which runs along old repurposed elevated freight train tracks, is among New York’s most visited sites and serves as an unusual leafy spine for Chelsea. It now ends at one of New York’s most exciting developments in recent years, Hudson Yards, with its much-photographed Vessel, the new arts space the Shed, and some of New York’s best shopping and dining.
Chelsea was named after the estate of Thomas Clarke, who built his country home in the area in the 1750s. In the years since then, the neighborhood has had a roller-coaster existence; the area of genteel rowhouses transformed into the center of the theater district (although briefly). By the 1980s and 1990s, the seeds of today’s revived Chelsea were being planted; galleries began to open in former industrial and loft spaces. Still, some charming survivors of old Chelsea remain, such as Greek Revival and Italianate rowhouses and the leafy General Theological Seminary campus. In 2016, the first Hudson Yards office tower was completed, and in 2019 the Shops at Hudson Yards and the Instagrammable Vessel opened, marking the beginning of a new chapter for this part of Manhattan.
All of Chelsea’s avenues are busy commercial strips, but Eighth Avenue has the most bars, restaurants, and stores. In the southwest corner of Chelsea, the Meatpacking District’s energy spills across 14th Street; it’s also where you’ll find the block-long Chelsea Market, with its restaurants, gourmet shops, and other stores. Through the middle of the neighborhood, 23rd Street’s businesses, including a Home Depot, are largely about essentials. If you are looking to buy art instead, Chelsea’s galleries are concentrated west of 10th Avenue in the 20s. New as of 2019, the Shops at Hudson Yards hosts global brands from H&M to Fendi, with a trendy line-up of restaurants nearby.
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