Here you’ll find a mix of buildings and styles, from bourgeois to blue collar. The well-planned rows of charming pre-war townhouses share residency with the more recently built high-rise rental apartment buildings and condominiums with the highest level of amenities and luxury finishes. Old warehouses are being converted into gallery spaces, nightclubs and residential lofts. With the newly planted Hudson River Park and the mammoth Chelsea Piers Sports and Recreation complex, Chelsea is a truly dynamic neighborhood offering something for everyone.
The name Chelsea came from London’s Chelsea Royal Hospital, an old soldiers’ home. Until the 1830s, the area from 19th to 28th Streets, and from Eighth Avenue West housed one family’s estate. Owner Clement Clarke Moore (author of the poem, “Twas The Night Before Christmas,” which he composed while bringing a sleigh full of Christmas treats from lower Manhattan to his Chelsea home) envisioned the trend toward northward movement in the city, and wisely subdivided his land into lots.
Its residential tranquility was interrupted by the creation of the Hudson River Railroad on Eleventh Avenue, which quickly attracted job-hungry immigrants to the breweries, slaughterhouses and glue factories that were setting up shop there. The elevated Ninth Avenue train established in 1871 depressed the area even further. Though it was dismantled before World War II, it left Chelsea’s West Side as home to many of the city’s poor. The East Side, which fared a bit better, became a popular theatrical district, until that too was later replanted further uptown.
In the 19th century, Chelsea never quite reached what was considered truly fashionable status. It did get a glimpse or two of greatness later that century, when it was considered as Ladies’ Mile and boasted a concentration of clothiers and dry goods outlets, and when it received notoriety as Manhattan’s “Tenderloin” vice district. It was not until the late 1960s that Chelsea, once a proud working-class community, became the quintessential West Side neighborhood it is today. With a fun, creative and entrepreneurial spirit, it is a dynamic residential area booming with shopping, art and recreation, all of which seems to be concentrated between 14th and 23rd Streets, from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson. Like many areas in Manhattan, Chelsea has undergone its second, even third renaissance. The Chelsea of today is a hot, trendy community offering an energetic atmosphere and cultural diversity complemented by great amenities, quaint and diverse ethnic restaurants, chic art galleries, shops and clubs.