The row houses portray the world-class architecture of Greek Revival, Italianate and Georgian styles. The population is both ethnically and socially diverse, which is reflected in the restaurants and retail businesses in the neighborhood.
Western Chelsea is the center of the NYC art world, where you will find more than 200 art galleries housed in rehabbed factories and warehouses, as well as in newly-constructed buildings.
While people of many different cultures call Chelsea home, it has been a mecca over the years for people in the LGBTQ community. One census reported that as many as 22% of its residents were gay couples. Eighth Avenue is a trendy area for LGBTQ-oriented dining and shopping. Although it no longer draws the LGBTQ population that it once did, Chelsea still has many popular alternative bars.
Chelsea is primarily residential, consisting of a mixture of diverse complexes, low-rise apartment blocks, tenements, townhouses, renovated row houses, and luxury high-rises.
Chelsea is an interesting and sought-after place to live, with unique clothing boutiques, restaurants, and delis representing cultures from around the world. In addition to its quirky establishments, Chelsea has fine dining restaurants and a vibrant, hip nightlife, which adds to its allure.
Chelsea is well-served by public transportation. At least six city bus routes traverse Chelsea. There are three NYC subway routes with stops on Seventh Avenue, three on Eighth Avenue, and two more on Sixth Avenue. The 34th Street - Hudson Yards Station opened in 2015 with its main entrance in Chelsea.
High Line Park. High Line Park is a very unusual type of city park. It is elevated on top of an old, unused section of railway. Based on a similar park project in Paris, this stunning 1.45-mile-long urban park runs completely through Chelsea, offering beautiful views of the city and the Hudson River.
Chelsea Market. Located at 75 9th Avenue, Chelsea Market brings global flair and flavor to a neighborhood market vibe. It contains an office building, a television production studio, a food hall and shopping mall. The Chelsea Market complex occupies an entire city block, and is connected to adjacent buildings on 10th Avenue by means of sky bridges. The High Line passes through the market on the 10th Avenue side of the market. More than six million visitors, both national and international, visit Chelsea Market annually. If you go, plan to make a day of it - you’ll wear out your feet, but you won’t go hungry!
Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex . This series of piers in Chelsea was originally a passenger ship terminal, until ships started being built that were too large for the piers to service. The RMS Lusitania used the piers in the early 1900s, and Pier 60 was the planned arrival destination for the RMS Titanic, which didn’t survive its maiden voyage from Southampton to NYC in 1912. Titanic survivors were taken to Pier 54 by the RMS Carpathia. Today, the Chelsea Piers complex houses a health club, two basketball courts, soccer fields, batting cages, a rock-climbing wall, dance studios, a golf club, bowling center, and two ice rinks, in addition to the city's largest gymnastics training facility. There are also film and television production studios in this complex.
Chelsea Park. Located at W 27th Street, Chelsea Park is filled with sport courts for basketball, baseball, and handball. You will find adult fitness equipment and playgrounds for children. With many benches and seating areas, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the park. A World War I memorial, affectionately known as the Chelsea Doughboy, is a central feature of Chelsea Park.
Hotel Chelsea. Located at 222 W 23rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, this 250-unit hotel started life as the first cooperative apartment complex in New York, when it was built between 1883 - 1885. It was the tallest building in NYC until 1902, when the Flatiron Building was completed. In 1905, the theater district migrated uptown, and this part of the neighborhood became commercialized. At that point, this grand residential building was converted into Hotel Chelsea. It became known for some of its more notable residents, such as Dylan Thomas, Mark Twain, Thomas Wolfe and Tennessee Williams. The Chelsea Hotel has been the subject of books, films and music.
Clement Clarke Moore Park. Found at 195 10th Avenue, Clement Clarke Moore Park is named after the poet who became famous for the traditional Christmas poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The site of the park is a former farm that was owned by Clement's grandfather. There is a playground for children, and family-centered events often are hosted at the park. It is a relaxing place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
What You Might See
During the warmer months of the year, High Line Park hosts many free events, such as art installations, live music, and dance performances.
Each year, during the Christmas season, there are community poetry readings of the famous Christmas poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” in Clement Clarke Moore Park.
What’s In The Future
Gentrification of areas of Chelsea is making it clear that there is an ever-widening gap between the poor, who live in Chelsea’s tenement buildings and housing projects, and the wealthy, living in luxury buildings. Sometimes, occupants of these two different housing options exist on opposite sides of the same street.
It is expected that there will be continued development of luxury housing along the length of the High Line, continuing the high-end real estate boom in this area. Housing prices along this line of development will soar.
As part of rezoning efforts in West Chelsea, the city is creating more affordable apartments, as development properties become available. Apartments are allocated by lottery.
What You Might Not Know
What is now part of the Chelsea Market used to be the headquarters of the National Biscuit Company, also known as Nabisco. In 1912, Nabisco invented its most enduringly successful product, the Oreo cookie. The basic recipe and cookie design have remained largely unchanged since that time, although flavor variations have been introduced.
Part of the Chelsea Market is built directly on top of a freight train system that ran along 10th and 11th Avenues. The trains ran right alongside cars and pedestrians, resulting in massive casualties. In the nearly 100 years between 1846 and 1941, this stretch of train tracks claimed over 436 lives, becoming known as “The Butcher.” In 1850, the Hudson River Railroad was desperate to reduce the tragic impact caused by this dangerous juxtaposition of trains and people. They recruited seasoned Western cowboys to ride their horses on the tracks in front of the trains, waving red flags, to alert pedestrians and cars that they needed to move. Western cowboys were chosen because it was felt that only they would have the skill to be able to control their horses in the midst of chaotic city traffic. These “Westside Cowboys” rode the tracks until 1941, when this “Death Avenue” was shut down. But the tracks remained, and part of the Chelsea Market was built right over top of them.
Thomas Clarke bought the original plot of land where Chelsea currently exists in 1750, naming it after the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which was a retirement home for soldiers in London. He was the grandfather of Clement Clarke Moore of Christmas poem fame. Chelsea is one of the oldest NYC neighborhoods that has kept its original name.
Chelsea was involved in the motion picture industry in the early 1900s. Acclaimed actress Mary Pickford filmed in the armory building at 221 W 26th Street.
Chelsea was connected with the Manhattan Project. Uranium was stored in the Baker & Williams warehouse during the early 1940s. It was only in the early 1990s that the uranium was removed and decontamination was completed.
Musical group, The Village People, commemorated the McBurney YMCA, on W 23rd Street, in their popular hit song “Y. M. C. A.” The McBurney YMCA has since relocated to a new facility on 14th Street.
What We Love
Chelsea is a haven for adults that prefer a lively, urban lifestyle. At least 84% of Chelsea’s inhabitants are age 25 or over. If you are looking for an area where you will not constantly have to interact with young children, Chelsea could be your ideal neighborhood.
The trendy neighborhood attractions, such as the High Line and its open-air performances, the 200+ art galleries displaying every possible type of art, and the extremely popular Chelsea Market, where you can indulge in upscale food, diverse ethnic restaurants, and unique boutiques, all give the area a vibrant, eclectic, and dynamic quality.
Crime rates have dropped by 74.8% across all categories between 1990 and 2018, according to the 10th Precinct, which patrols Chelsea. This makes Chelsea one of the safer neighborhoods.