Chelsea & Gramercy

The expansion of the City that started in the early 19th century with Greenwich Village continued northwards and by the 1830s this area was changing quickly from farmland to city suburb. It grew into a very diverse area, with commerce centred around Madison Square, elegant houses around Gramercy Square, the fashion industry based in the Garment District around 7th Avenue, the Meatpacking District to the south west, and on the shores of the Hudson River the piers that serviced huge liners.  Compared to Midtown to the north and Greenwich Village to the south, this area seems a little short on tourist attractions, but there is one big one that brings most here - the Empire State Building. 



Hudson River at Chelsea Piers

Most of the piers used by the great liners have been demolished or are derelict. Chelsea Piers were once used by famous Cunard and White Star lines, but by the 1980’s they were derelict and plans were made to demolish them to build a new highway. They were saved and have now been renovated and turned into a sports and entertainment complex. The ‘lighthouse’ on the left of the picture is part of a corporate events venue. Over the other side of the Hudson River on this grey day loom the tower blocks of New Jersey.

'Meow Mix Mobile', Macy's Flower Show

Although you will find Macy’s stores across the USA, it was here in New York that they began in 1858. The current store is not on the original site as Macy’s outgrew its first premises. The store now occupies an entire block on 7th Avenue and claims to be the largest store in the world. Macy’s is famous for its Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it also sponsors a number of smaller parades and events. This picture was taken at the Macy’s Flower Show in April.

Setting sun on Empire State Building from Avenue of the Americas

The story of how the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building competed for the title of tallest building in the world is well known. Officially opened on May 1, 1931 the Empire State snatched the title that the Chrysler building had held for only months and it kept the title for 41 years. At a total height of 443 metres (1454 feet) the Empire State is an impressive sight and the view from the Obervatory at 320 metres (1050 feet) high is on a good day a must for any tourist. Our first trip up the Empire State Building was a disappointment as a bank of cloud blew in while we were making our way to the top.  One tip is to go early as the queues (lines) to visit the Observatory can get very long once the majority of tourists are up and about. Click Tab 2 to see the lobby of the Empire State Building.

Chelsea Piers & Empire State Building from Boat Tour

If you are not familiar with New York you probably think that Manhattan is wall to wall skyscrapers. In reality most of the skyscrapers are clustered in Midtown and Lower Manhattan and the area in between is relatively low rise. By choosing not to build  the then tallest building in the world in Midtown or Lower Manhattan the designers of the Empire State Building ensured that it stands out proudly on the horizon. 

Meat Packing district at Hudson & 14th Streets

To the south west is a district that when we visited in 2001 was run down but showing signs of a new life. The Meat Packing District, otherwise known as Gansevoort Market, is home to a declining meat market and is undergoing the sort of transformation that has made Greenwich Village highly fashionable. Derelict buildings are undergoing expensive facelifts  and hotels, boutiques, restaurants and clubs are springing up amongst the remaining meat packing companies.


 Chelsea Piers & Empire State Building from Boat Tour, New York, NY, USA
 Setting sun on Empire State Building from Avenue of the Americas
 Hudson River at Chelsea Piers, New York, NY, USA
 'Meow Mix Mobile', Macy's Flower Show, New York, NY, USA
Meat Packing District at Hudson & 14th, New York, NY, USA




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- The Empire State building is the star attraction here, and it is well worth a trip up to the Observatory.
- The High Line - the only place where you can stroll through a beautifully tended park and at the same time have a grandstand view of life in the streets below. The wild northern section is less interesting.
- Some parts of the Meatpacking district have been a bit run down, but following the opening of the High Line as a park it has begun to get much better.
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The High Line near 14th Street, New York, NY, USA


The High Line near 14th Street

From 1851 to 1929 10th Avenue was a very dangerous place, not because of traffic or gangsters, but because there was a railroad running along it. Trains, traffic and pedestrians don’t mix so in 1929 the New York Central Railroad agreed to rebuild the line as an elevated railroad to keep the trains clear of the roads. The High Line opened in 1934 running from 34th Street in the north to St. John’s Park Terminal at Spring Street. It eliminated 105 street level railroad crossings. After World War II traffic declined and the southern end of the line was demolished in the 1960s. The remainder continued in use until it was abandoned in 1980. Attempts both to demolish and reopen the High Line were thwarted, leaving it as a rusting monument to the railroad era. The idea of turning it into a public open space was first mooted in 1999 and early in the 21st Century plans were drawn up to convert it into a linear public park. Work on the southern part of the line began in April 2006 and the southern section of the High Line opened to the public as a park in June 2009.  A second section opened 2 years later.  Work to convert the northern section the northern section at Hudson yards began in September 2012. Unlike the southern section of the High Line, the northern section has preserved the plants that established themselves naturally in the line after it was abandoned  Click Tab 2 to see the  northern section of the High Line at Hudson Yards.

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Chelsea Market, New York, NY, USA
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Chelsea Market

Meat was not the only product of the Meatpacking District. In the 19th century butchers lard was an ingredient used in making biscuits and there was plenty of it available in the Meatpacking District. A local biscuit company set up its factory in these premises in the 1890s. In 1898 the company merged with two others to form the National Biscuit Company which later became known as Nabisco. The biscuit factory relocated to the suburbs In 1958. Nabisco had used the High Line to transport goods to and from the factory, so their departure contributed to its demise. For decades after the old factory building was little used until in 1990 investor Irwin B Cohen bought it. Seven years later the building opened to the public as Chelsea Market, an indoor food hall with more than thirty-five vendors.  Click Tab 2 to see the Sushi Bar at Lobster Place in Chelsea Market,


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