When our eldest daughter graduated from college and landed a job in the Big Apple, we weren’t sure whether to cheer or bite our nails. Fortunately, she found a lovely apartment with two college friends in Chelsea and they were able to reduce their monthly bills by renting a wall, splitting the two-bedroom into a three bedrooms–who knew such things existed?
We’ve had an opportunity to visit on several occasions and have found the community to be walkable, safe and brimming with great places to go.
The High Line
A beautiful elevated greenway skirts above Manhattan’s street following the now rusting freight rail. The High Line is a one-mile linear park stretching from West 14th Street to 30th Street, inspired by a similar project in Paris called the Promenade Plantee.
Conceived by local residents who fought for the structure’s preservation, it is maintained today by a public-private partnership. Urban architectural detailing mixes with naturalized plantings, which is what makes this really work—especially since the landscaping was selected from the self-seeding weeds and vegetation that grew on the now disused tracks. Sustainable plantings at its best.
The former Nabisco plant, where the first Oreos were baked in 1912, is now the site of sprawling marketplace featuring gourmet food, wine and retail shops, book stores and flower shops. The seating is minimal at many of the restaurants and weekends are a mob scene but it’s a fun shopping trip with lots of table seating and spots outside that provide space for a picnic on nice days.
The Hotel Chelsea
This historic 250-room hotel is in the midst of a major remodel, but it’s not to be missed. Some of the most celebrated and famous artists and writers in American history lived here at one time or another: Virgil Thomson, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Arthur Gaby Hoffman and more. The front desk personnel is keeping mum on the plans for this once residential hotel, which no longer accepts live-ins, but something great is surely in the works for this historic landmark.
Walk along 20th Street between 9th and 10th avenues and you’ll see some of the country’s best examples of Greek Revival row houses, built in 1840. The detailing is lovely, from the pineapples, a traditional symbol of welcome, to deeply recessed doorways with brownstone frames and iron balustrades and fences.
The Meatball Shop
This small neighborhood restaurant specializes in—what else?—meatballs, which are served many ways and in every type of sauce imaginable. Comfort food doesn’t get any more comforting. The space is small and quaint, the wine list simple. Reservations are recommended.