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Art galleries, theatres and unique museums: over recent years Chelsea has developed into the creative hub of New York City. The industrial character gives the district that raw edge which many artists love. There are currently an estimated 350 galleries in Chelsea alone and the number is still rising.
SoHo used to be the place to be for art-loving New Yorkers but times have changed. In the early 1990s, the abandoned warehouses and garages in the once grimy streets of Chelsea were converted into galleries brimming with ‘edgy’ art. Restaurants, cafés and museums followed and transformed Chelsea into a trendy neighbourhood. Nearly all galleries are free to enter, which makes a day of art shopping even more appealing
A great way to get a good impression of the neighbourhood is to take a walk along the High Line. This former elevated freight railway line runs from Chelsea to the Meatpacking District and has been developed into a beautiful green park. The almost 2-kilometre High Line is literally a small oasis in the urban jungle that is New York City. When the weather is good, you’ll find many New Yorkers sunbathing on loungers or enjoying a pretzel and a coffee at one of the cafeterias, while the busy traffic roars past beneath.
There are various stairways to get to the street level below but we recommend exiting at West 20th Street. One block up, on West 21st Street, you’ll find the gallery of Paula Cooper, a major name in art circles and one of the first to move her venue from SoHo to Chelsea. Paula’s gallery features works from various high-profile artists.
“Chelsea mixes uptown wealth with a unique downtown style”
Most galleries are located in the blocks between West 18th Street, West 24th Street, 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue. On West 24th Street you’ll find the 303 Gallery, featuring interesting photography exhibitions and installations. Further down the same street is the Gladstone Gallery, a space full of conceptual and philosophical art. Take a break from all this avant-garde creativity at the Printed Matter book shop on the corner of 10th Avenue and West 23rd Street to browse among thousands of art books.
The best place for a good breakfast or take-away lunch is Chelsea Market. This market hall used to be the domain of the National Biscuit Company, inventor of the world-famous Oreo cookie. Today it houses a wide range of catering facilities and shops; from perfect cupcakes to organic bread, from upscale sushi to homemade soup, it’s impossible to go hungry here. The industrial building itself is also worth a visit.