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Chelsea Historic District
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. Historic District
Location: Roughly bounded by 14th and 34th St, from West Street to 5th Ave. below 23rd St, and Broadway above 23rd St (original),
Roughly W. 22 to W. 23 Sts. and 8th to 10th Aves., (increase)
New York, New York
Coordinates: 40°44′43″N 74°0′15″W / 40.74528°N 74.00417°W / 40.74528; -74.00417Coordinates: 40°44′43″N 74°0′15″W / 40.74528°N 74.00417°W / 40.74528; -74.00417
Built/Founded: 1830
Architect: Multiple
Architectural style(s): Greek Revival, Italianate, Georgian
Governing body: Private
Added to NRHP: December 6, 1977 (original)
December 16, 1982 (increase)
NRHP Reference#: 77000954 (original)
82001190 (increase)[1]

NOTE: There is also a Chelsea in Staten Island. We might need a disambiguation page for Chelsea.

Chelsea is a neighborhood on the West Side of the Manhattan borough of New York City. It is located to the south of Hell's Kitchen and the Garment District starting at 34th Street, and north of Greenwich Village, and the Meatpacking District that centers on West 14th Street. West - East boundaries are from West Street to 5th Ave. below 23rd St, and Broadway above 23rd St. The neighborhood is part of Manhattan Community Board 4 and Manhattan Community Board 5. An area in the neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Chelsea Historic District.

Chelsea is sometimes referred to, along with Hell's Kitchen, as Manhattan West. A longstanding weekly newspaper is called the Chelsea-Clinton News. The weekly newspaper, Chelsea Now, also serves the neighborhood.



File:Chelsea mansion house crop.jpg
The Chelsea manor house, as drawn by a daughter of Clement Clarke Moore

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 Clement Clarke Moore, who is generally credited with writing "A Visit From St. Nicholas" and was the 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. In 1827, Moore gave the land of his apple orchard to the Episcopal Diocese of New York for the General Theological Seminary, which built its brownstone Gothic, tree-shaded campus south of the manor house. Despite his objections to the Commissioner's Plan of 1811, which ran the new Ninth Avenue through the middle of his estate, Moore began the development of "Chelsea", dividing it up into lots along Ninth Avenue and selling them to well-heeled New Yorkers.[2]

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.

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 freight railroad spur.[3] The film On the Waterfront (1954) recreates this tough world, dramatized in Richard Rodgers' 1936 jazz ballet Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.

File:London Terrace.jpg
Part of the 23rd Street facade of the London Terrace apartment complex, as seen from the High Line at 20th Street. The complex takes up the full block between Ninth and Tenth Avenues and 23rd and 24th Streets.

In the late 19th century West 23rd Street was the center of American theater, led by Pike's Opera House (1868, demolished 1960), on the northwest corner of Eighth 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.

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 - a Mitchell-Lama development and the NYCHA-built and operated Fulton Houses and Elliott Chelsea Houses. All four are clustered together. The Elliot Chelsea Houses are the site of one of five facilities operated by the Hudson Guild, a settlement house dating back to 1895. That building, named for founder John Lovejoy Elliot, contains an off-Broadway theater and fine arts programs.

A Chelsea streetscape
Converted townhouses along 23rd Street

In the early 1940s tons of Uranium for the Manhattan Project were stored in the Baker & Williams Warehouse at 513-519 West 20th St. The uranium was only removed and decontaminated in the late 1980s/early 1990s.[4]

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 Fifth Avenue below 23rd St., and Broadway above 23rd St. to its northern border of 34th St. 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. The Chelsea Lofts district (the former fur and flower district) is located roughly between 6th and 7th Ave. from 23rd St. to 30th St. Chelsea has a large gay population, stereotyped as gym-toned "Chelsea boys." The McBurney "Y" on West 23rd St., commemorated in the hit Village People song Y.M.C.A., sold its home and relocated to a new facility[5] on West 14th St., the neighborhood's southern border.

Most recently, Chelsea has become an alternative shopping destination with Barneys CO-OP - which replaced the much larger original Barneys flagship store - Comme des Garçons, and Balenciaga boutiques, as well as being near Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Christian Louboutin. Chelsea Market, on the ground floor of the former NABISCO Building, is a destination for food lovers.

As New York's visual arts community moved from SoHo to West Chelsea in the 1990s, the area bounded by 10th and 11th Avenue and 18th St. and 28th St. has become one of the global centers of contemporary art. The West Chelsea Arts District is home to over 370 art galleries and innumerable artist studios.


There are four general public schools in Chelsea: Public School 11, also known as the William T Harris School, Public School 33, the Chelsea School, Intermediate School 70, also known as the O'Henry School and the Liberty High School For Newcomers.

Chelsea is also home to the Fashion Institute of Technology, a specialized SUNY unit which serves as a training ground for the city's fashion and design industries. The School of Visual Arts, an independent college and the public High School of Fashion Industries also have a presence in the design fields. Touro College, a independent college with Jewish roots and programming, has its main campus in Chelsea, with a focus on business, social & physical sciences.

The neighborhood is also home to the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, the oldest seminary in the Anglican Communion. The Center for Jewish History, a consortium of several national research organizations, is a unified library, exhibition, conference, lecture and performance venue, located on 17th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.Template:Clr


Chelsea is a melting pot of cultures. Above 23rd Street, by the Hudson River, the neighborhood is post-industrial, featuring the newly-hip High Line that follows the river all through Chelsea.[6][7] Eighth Avenue is a center for LGBT-oriented shopping and dining, 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 single family use.[8]

File:IAC night jeh.jpg
InterActiveCorp headquarters on West Street, designed by Frank Gehry

Since the mid-1990s, Chelsea has become a center of the New York art world, as art galleries moved there from SoHo. From 16th Street to 27th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues, there are more than 350 art galleries that are home to modern art from upcoming artists and respected artists as well.[9] Along with the art galleries, Chelsea is home to the Rubin Museum of Art - with a focus on Himalayan art, the Chelsea Art Museum, the Graffiti Research Lab and the Dance Theater Workshop - a performance space and support organization for dance companies. The community, in fact is home to many well regarded performance venues, among them the Joyce Theater - one of the city's premier modern dance emporiums and The Kitchen - a center for cutting edge theatrical and visual arts.

With a change in zoning resolution in conjunction with the development of the High Line, Chelsea has experienced a new construction boom, with projects by renown architects such as Shigeru Ban, Neil Denari, Jean Nouvel, and 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). This, in addition to comprehensive rezoning completed in 2004, is designed to protect the West Chelsea Arts district and allow for the development of world class architecture on its periphery.


  • 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". The diner closed its doors for good on May 15th 2010. [10]
  • The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church and 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.[11] The hotel attracted attention to the neighborhood as the place where Dylan Thomas had been staying when he died in 1953 at St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village, and the 1978 slaying of Nancy Spungen for which Sid Vicious was accused. 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 is being transformed into a joint city/state park with non-traditional uses.
  • 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 James Corner Field Operations and 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.
  • Peter McManus Cafe -Peter McManus Cafe is among the oldest family owned and operated bars in New York City
  • The People's Improv Theater is an Off-Off-Broadway theater located at 154 W. 29th Street. The PIT is both a performance venue that presents original comedic shows every night of the week and a training program that focuses on teaching improvisation as well as teaching comedy performance and sketch writing.
  • Pike's Opera House, quickly renamed the Grand Opera House, opened in 1868 on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street, and survived until 1960 as an RKO movie theater.


  • WPA Guide to New York City, 1939
  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. Burrows, Edwin G. & Mike Wallace (1999). Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press. p.447. ISBN 0-19-511634-9
  3. The freight spur was raised as the High Line, built in the early 1930s by the New York Central Railroad to eliminate the fatal accidents that occurred along the street-level right-of-way.
  4. Broad, William J. (October 30, 2007). "Why They Called It the Manhattan Project". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  9. "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."
  10. "Empire Diner"
  11. Leffel, C. and Lehman, J. The Best Things to Do in New York. New York: Universal Publishing 2006.

External links

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