Where does industry meet artwork, edginess meet sophistication, and factories meet festivals? Head to this neighborhood in Manhattan’s West Side to find the answer.
Chelsea’s industrial past is still very much evident in its hipster present. Even if it could distance itself from the warehouses and freight terminals, it would probably turn down the offer. After all, what’s more artistic than appreciating the natural grunge of New York City? This neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan didn’t blossom into a creative hotspot despite the industry; it grew because of it.
To understand why, you’d have to go back to Chelsea’s days as an industrial hub. Compared to other New York neighborhoods in the late 1900s, rent was more affordable in Chelsea. And who likes cheap rent more than artists who need lots of space to display their creations?
Today, visitors come to Chelsea to experience New York’s top contemporary art scene, where upscale galleries sit next to disused factories, and graffiti from years gone by leads into modern sculpture parks. For great views of this varied landscape, walk the paths of the High Line. Here, one of New York’s most interesting parks sits on top of an old railroad track. You can sit on a bench that’s so close to a nearby skyscraper you feel like you can almost reach out and touch it.
Don’t miss a chance to see the actual galleries themselves either. The Whitney Museum of American Art is well worth a visit. If the expense of New York City has been a bit too hard on your wallet, that’s no problem either – many of the exhibitions across Chelsea are free, including those at the famous David Zwirner Gallery.
If you like your food with a side helping of quirkiness, check out Chelsea Market. This former factory turned foodie paradise is home to more than 30 vendors serving up everything from cheesy quesadillas to crispy Nutella crepes.