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Converted townhouses along 23rd Street.

Chelsea is a neighborhood on the West Side of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is located to the south of Hell's Kitchen and the Garment District, and north of Greenwich Village, and the Meatpacking District that centers on West 14th Street. The neighborhood is part of Manhattan Community Board 4 and Manhattan Community Board 5.

Chelsea is sometimes referred to along with Clinton (more commonly known by its traditional name "Hell's Kitchen") as Manhattan West. A longstanding weekly newspaper is called the "Chelsea-Clinton News."


Chelsea takes its name from a Federal-style house of retired British Major Thomas Clarke, who named his home after the manor of Chelsea, London, which was home to Sir Thomas More. Clarke's house was inherited by his daughter Charity and her husband Benjamin Moore, and was the birthplace of writer Clement Clarke Moore, credited with writing "A Visit From St. Nicholas" and author of the first Greek and Hebrew lexicons printed in the United States.

"Chelsea" stood surrounded by its gardens on a full block between Ninth and Tenth Avenues south of 23rd Street until it was replaced by high quality row houses in the mid-19th century. The former rural charm of the neighborhood was tarnished by the freight railroad right-of-way of the Hudson River Railroad, which laid its tracks up Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in 1847 and separated Chelsea from the Hudson River waterfront. Clement Clarke Moore gave the land of his apple orchard for the General Theological Seminary, which built its brownstone Gothic tree-shaded campus south of "Chelsea."

By 1900, the neighborhood was solidly Irish and housed the longshoremen who unloaded freighters at warehouse piers that lined the nearby waterfront and the truck terminals integrated with the raised freight railroad spur. The film On the Waterfront (1954) recreates this tough world, dramatized in Richard Rodgers' 1936 jazz ballet Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.

Chelsea was an early center for the motion picture industry before World War I. Some of Mary Pickford's first pictures were made on the top floors of an armory building on West 26th Street.

In the late 19th century West 23rd Street was the center of American theater.

London Terrace was one of the world's largest apartment blocks when it opened in 1930, with a swimming pool, solarium, gymnasium, and doormen dressed as London bobbies. Other major housing complexes in the Chelsea area are Penn South, Fulton Houses and Elliott Chelsea Houses

In the early 1940s tons of Uranium for the Manhattan Project were stored in the Baker & Williams Warehouse at 513-519 West 20th Street. The uranium was only removed and decontaminated in the late 1980s/early 1990s.[1]

Traditionally, Chelsea was bounded on the east by Eighth Avenue, but in 1883 the apartment block, soon transformed to Hotel Chelsea helped extend it past Seventh Avenue, and now it runs as far east as Sixth Avenue. The neighborhood is primarily residential with a mix of tenements, apartment blocks and rehabilitated warehousing, and its many businesses reflect that diversity: ethnic restaurants, delis and clothing boutiques are plentiful. Tekserve, a vast Apple computer repair shop, serves nearby Silicon Alley and the area's large creative community. Chelsea has a large gay population, stereotyped as gym-toned "Chelsea boys."

Most recently, Chelsea has become an alternative shopping destination with Barneys CO-OP, Comme Des Garcons, and Balenciaga boutiques, as well as being near Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Christian Louboutin.


Chelsea has recently become a melting pot of many cultures. Above 23rd Street, by the Hudson River, the neighborhood is industrial or post-industrial, featuring the newly-hip High Line that follows the river all through Chelsea. Eighth Avenue is a center for gay culture, and from 20th to 22nd street between Ninth and Tenth avenue, mid-nineteenth century brick and brownstone townhouses are still occupied, a few even restored to private use.

Since the mid-1990s, Chelsea has become a center of the New York art scene, as an increasing number of art galleries have moved there from SoHo. From 16th Street to 27th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues, there are more than 200 art galleries that are home to modern art from upcoming artists and respected artists as well.[2] Along with the art galleries, Chelsea is also home to the somewhat well known Graffiti Research Lab. There are many new developments in Chelsea, including a new nine-storey tower with shaped glass front on West St. designed by Frank Gehry.

The district was first added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 (District #77000954), and later expanded to include contiguous blocks containing particularly significant examples of period architecture in 1982 (District #82001190).


  • Chelsea Piers - The Chelsea Piers were the city's primary luxury cruise terminal from 1910 until 1935. The RMS Titanic was headed to Pier 60 at the piers and the RMS Carpathia brought survivors to Pier 54 in the complex. The northern piers are now part of an entertainment and sports complex operated by Roland W. Betts.
  • General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in its college-like close, sometimes called "Chelsea Square", a city block of tree-shaded lawns between 9th and 10th Avenues and between West 20th and West 21st Streets. The campus is ringed by more than a dozen brick and brownstone buildings in Gothic Revival style. The oldest building on the campus dates from 1836. Most of the rest were designed as a group by architect Charles Coolidge Haight, under the guidance of the Dean, Augustus Hoffman.
  • Hotel Chelsea - Built in 1883, it was New York's first cooperative apartment complex and was the tallest building in the city until 1902. After the Chelsea theater district migrated uptown and the neighborhood became commercialized, the residential building folded and in 1905 it was turned into a hotel.[3] The hotel attracted attention to the neighborhood as the site of Dylan Thomas's death in 1953 and the slaying of Nancy Spungen by "accused" Sid Vicious in 1978. The Hotel has been the home of numerous celebrities and the subject of books, films (Chelsea Girls, 1966) and music.
  • Hudson River Park - The entire Hudson River waterfront from 59th Street to the Battery including most of associated piers are now a combination state and city park and are undergoing a massive renovation.
  • High Line - The High Line is an elevated rail line that was once used to handle freight from the waterfront. Originally slated to be torn down because it created an industrial atmosphere in the neighborhood it is now being converted into an elevated park by New York Architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
  • London Terrace - The apartment complex on West 23rd was one of the world's largest apartment blocks when it opened in 1930, with a swimming pool, solarium, gymnasium, and doormen dressed as London bobbies.
  • Penn South - A large limited-equity housing cooperative built by the United Housing Foundation and financed by the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union covering six city blocks, between 8th and 9th Avenue and 23rd and 29th Street.
  • Empire Diner - An art moderne diner designed by Fodero Dining Car Company and built in 1946, altered in 1979 by Carl Laanes. Located at 210 Tenth Avenue at 22nd Street, it has been seen in several movies and mentioned in Billy Joel´s song "Great Wall of China".
  • Peter McManus Cafe -Peter McManus Cafe is among the oldest family owned and operated bars in New York City.


  • WPA Guide to New York City, 1939
  1. Why They Called It the Manhattan Project - New York Times - October 30, 2007
  2. "Stylish Traveler: Chelsea Girls", Travel + Leisure, September 2005. Accessed May 14, 2007. "With more than 200 galleries, Chelsea has plenty of variety. Here, eight of them that feature everything from paintings to sculpture, videos to installations."; "City Planning Begins Public Review for West Chelsea Rezoning to Permit Housing Developm,ent and Create Mechanism for Preserving and Creating Access to the High Line", Department of City Planning press release, December 20, 2004. "Some 200 galleries have opened their doors in recent years, making West Chelsea a destination for art lovers from around the City and the world."
  3. Leffel, C. and Lehman, J. The Best Things to Do in New York. New York: Universal Publishing 2006.

External links

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