As usual, wherever I start out in New York City, I do not have the time nor money to do everything that I would like to do. The week before Christmas of 2009, I went to New York to meet a VT friend and to do some Christmas shopping. I stayed at the Chelsea Hotel to be close, but not too close, to my VT friend, and although we visited the Statue of Liberty and nearly froze to death, I did spend most of my time in Chelsea, where I discovered an amazing assortment of art galleries. All had free entry and most had both modestly priced and verrrry expensive art for sale, I never felt any pressure to buy. I found the ones which I visited simply by wandering but since returning home I have discovered that I was in New York’s most concentrated area for a gallery crawl and that they are mostly in the 20s Streets between 10th and 11th Avenues. I have also discovered that you can access a sort of gallery guide on-line by checking westchelseaarts.com or Gallery Guide for listings. In addition to offering free admission, if you can time your crawl for Thursday evenings that tends to be a night for wine-and-cheese openings.
What a great area, it has completely changed from when we were here last. Granted that was some time ago. The area is bustling and seemed to be full of travelers from all over. Walk the Highline down to a school that will teach you trapeze tricks. Only in New York could you stumble across that.
some of the art galleries we visited and loved:
Chelsea Art Museum
and so many others to even remember all of their names. These were just some we took postcards from as souvenirs.
New York City Bound? Want to stay on the cheaper side? Theres lots to do, and great places to stay in Chelsea without breaking the bank.
For hotels you have Chelsea Inn on 17th street ($150/night). It's a cheap, clean and safe hotel. The staff were very helpful. Its a quick walk to Union Sq where we saw Fuerza Bruta ($80/ticket)
The high line park is a great (& free) thing to do during the day. Plus the west side has parks and trails that make for a nice walk. The intrepid museum is along the path. They show movies sometimes during the summer on the runway but it was sold out when we got there. At night we caught an improv show at upright citizens brigade ($10/ticket).
Hope this helps.
When you are racing around NYC like a mad thing, trying to pack as much as you can into your visit, take the time to stop and go to the Chelsea Market, this gem is an amazing, peaceful, awe-inspiring foodie haven. Cupcakes to die for and real gelato to kill for!
When my husband, Bill and I both retired we promised our self a trip to the "Big Apple." We spent days shopping in SoHo, posing in Times Square, strolling through Central Park...it was incredible. The tourist booth recommended that we check out a new park that was just built on the Western waterfront, called "the Highline." Due to the unbearable muggy August day, Bill and I thought it best to duck into some of the world famous Chelsea art galleries.
Now I dont remember the name of all of the galleries, there were a lot! But, we came across the most gorgeous painting in Agora Gallery, I only know the name, because the postcard from the gallery is still hanging on our fridge. :) A constant reminder that we should travel as often as possible. I would highly recommend exploring the galleries of Chelsea as this was the highlight of our trip.
We were staying right around the corner from here so had a wander around. This is a nice area with some fantastic restaurants - whatever type of food you wanted to eat you could probably find it here.
The place has a nice feel to it and felt totally safe wandering around here even at night.
There were some unusual shops round here and a fabulous flower shop...should you happen to need one!
Completed in 2007, the IAC Building was one of the first buildings in New York City to challenge the tired old straight and perpendicular lines in architecture that have long been the city's norm. It was designed by the renowned architect, Frank Gehry, whose incredible creations have been revolutionary around the world. This was his first work in NYC, but is said to be one of his most tame creations! Since its construction, New York has seen a growing number of new constructions that dare to challenge the harsh lines of NYC. The IAC Building is located on the West Side Highway in Chelsea, by the Hudson River, and houses the headquarters of the media company IAC.
The Chelsea hotel on west 23rd street has an interesting history. Its residents have included:-
Bob Dylan, who died here of alcohol poisoning in 1953.
Sid Vicious, who stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death here on 12th October 1978.
Arthur C Clarke, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix
Just like the surrounding area, we found the Chelsea Hotel had been considerably smartened up since we last saw it, and it now looks a bit like the tourist attraction it has become, as well as (I imagine) a rather nice place to stay.
This late nineteenth century building has been a hotel since 1905 and the list of famous past residents reads like a roll-call of some of the most risqué celebrities of the twentieth century: Eugene O’Neil, Thomas Wolfe, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, William Burroughs, Jasper Johns, Patti Smith, Arthur Miller, Dylan Thomas (who died here after drinking at the White Horse Tavern – see my Off the Beaten Path tip). Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey while in residence, and Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols is thought by many to have stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death here in 1978. Many of these are commemorated on bronze plaques either side of the door, although we spotted that Sid Vicious was a noticeable absentee!
We popped inside to the hotel lobby, where several striking paintings and other modern art are displayed. Comfortable sofas and easy chairs create a relaxed atmosphere which seemed a little at odds with the hotel’s reputation, as did the abundance of Apple Macs in use by today’s guests.
Out of curiosity I checked out the prices of a stay here, which range from $159 for a room with a shared bathroom in winter, to close to $500 for a suite or two bedroom apartment in summer. Something to consider for a future visit to the city perhaps?
Possibly one of the city’s most famous (and at times notorious) districts, we found that Chelsea had been smartened up a bit since our last visit in 1982 but still retained something of its original air of decadence, even mid Friday morning!
Chelsea lies roughly from 39th to 15th Streets, between the Hudson River and Fifth Avenue. It has long been home to some of the city’s less conventional residents, and was considered gay-friendly long before such attitudes could be taken for granted in even the most cosmopolitan of cities. Past famous inhabitants of course include guests, some of them notorious, at the legendary Chelsea Hotel (see separate tip) but these days, following “gentrification”, the area attracts a wide range of inhabitants, from artists and young professionals. It’s a great place for lovers of contemporary art as there are numerous small galleries dotting its streets. It’s also a great place for photographers as there are still enough quirky sights to catch the eye, and the lens. I loved the window displays in this vintage clothes shop on 23rd Street, for instance. We also spotted a small “Park for a Day” event which seemed a great idea (see my Local Customs tip for more about this) and had a coffee in a lovely café, the Madeleine Patisserie, also on 23rd.
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