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New York - Around Town : Chelsea and Herald Square (part 1)

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A neighborhood that has seen a great deal of recent change, Chelsea was a quiet enclave of 19th-century brownstones that never made it as a fashionable address. Now it is a hub for gay New Yorkers and center for the city’s avant-garde art galleries and nightclubs. Buildings along 6th Avenue are now occupied by superstores and discount outlets, and to the west, Chelsea Piers has transformed the waterfront. Uptown, the Garment District begins around 27th Street, with Herald Square and Macy’s at the heart of the city’s busiest shopping area.

The World’s Largest Store

Macy’s is more than a store to most New Yorkers. It is a major part of the city, sponsoring the famous Thanksgiving Day Parade, the city’s Fourth of July fireworks and everything from an annual spring flower show filling the main floor, to Tap-O-Mania, when thousands of tap dancers converge on Herald Square.



Sights

  1. 6th Avenue Shopping

    This was once a popular district known as “Fashion Row”. The 1876 cast-iron façade of the Hugh O’Neill Dry Goods Store at Nos. 655–71 exemplifies the era, when the arrival of the 6th Avenue elevated line provided easy access to the area. As Manhattan’s commercial center moved northward, these cast-iron palaces were left deserted until the 1990s, when they found new life as bargain fashion outlets and superstores.

    • 6th Ave, 18th to 23rd Sts

  2. West 25th Street Market and Antiques Garage

    On weekends, year-round, an empty parking lot becomes one of the city’s most popular outdoor markets. A tradition for more than 30 years, some 100 vendors, from Maine to Maryland, set up booths selling clothing, silver, jewelry, furniture, art, and “junktiques” from old tools to vintage eyeglasses. Many prize antiques can be discovered at The Antiques Garage, an indoor market just around the corner at 112 West 25th Street, and at The Showplace, 40 West 25th Street, with over 60 dealers on three floors.

    • West 25th St between Broadway and 7th Ave

    • Open sunrise to sunset

    • Admission charge

  3. Flower District

    Here, at the heart of the city’s wholesale flower district, you can hardly see the sidewalk for the masses of greenery, shrubs, and flowers. Manhattan’s largest concentration of shops selling house plants, trees, blooming plants, and all manner of flowers, fresh, dried, and artificial can be found here; if you can’t find what you want, it probably doesn’t exist. The district extends along 6th Avenue roughly from 25th to 30th streets.

    • 6th Ave at 27th St

    The Flower District
  4. Chelsea Hotel

    Seedy it is, yet there’s a definite mystique to this 1884 building bedecked with wrought-iron balconies. Once a fancy apartment, it became a hotel favored by musicians, artists, and writers. Former guests, commemorated on brass plaques outside, include Tennessee Williams, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, and Brendan Behan. Dylan Thomas spent his last years here. Notoriously, it was also the place where punk rocker Sid Vicious killed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen in 1978. Step into the lobby and take a look at the wild artwork. The bar downstairs is now called the Star Lounge.

    • 222 West 23rd St, between 7th & 8th Aves

    Chelsea Hotel, cast-iron stairwell
  5. Chelsea Historic District

    Clement Moore, author of A Visit from St. Nicholas, developed this land in the 1830s. The finest of the town houses built here are the seven known as “Cushman Row,” Nos. 406–18 West 20th Street, which are among the city’s best examples of Greek Revival architecture. Houses at Nos. 446–50 West 20th are in the Italianate style, for which Chelsea is also known.

    • Between 9th & 10th Aves, 20th & 21st Sts

    “Cushman Row”, Chelsea Historic District
  6. General Theological Seminary

    America’s oldest Episcopal seminary was founded in 1819. This campus was built around two quadrangles in the 1830s, on a site donated by Clement Moore, who taught at the seminary. The main building, added in 1960, includes a library with the largest collection of Latin Bibles in the world. There are lovely inner gardens (9th Avenue entrance).

    • 20th to 21st Sts

    • Open 10am–3pm Mon–Sat

    • Free

  7. Chelsea Piers

    Four neglected piers have been turned into a 30-acre sports and recreation complex, and Manhattan’s largest venue for film and TV production. Sports facilities include ice skating, inline skating and skateboarding, batting cages, playing fields, a basketball court, bowling alley, golf driving ranges, and a marina offering harbor cruises and sailing instruction. Pier Park is a place to relax with a water view.

    • 23rd St at the Hudson River

    • Open 6:30am–11pm Oct–Mar (to midnight Apr–Sep)

    • Admission charge

    • www.chelseapiers.com

    Chelsea Piers

    Chelsea Piers
  8. Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.)

    Founded in 1944 and now a branch of the State University of New York, the Fashion Institute of Technology is a prestigious school teaching art, fashion design, and marketing, and boasts famous alumni, including Calvin Klein, Norma Kamali, and David Chu. Students benefit from internships with New York’s leading stores and designers. Of greatest interest to the public is the gallery, which has changing exhibits, often from their clothing and textile collections.

    • 7th Ave at West 27th St

    • Museum open noon–8pm Tue-Fri, 10am–5pm Sat

    • Free

  9. Herald Square

    The center of a rowdy theater district known as the Tenderloin in the 1870s and 80s, until it was reformed. The Manhattan Opera House was razed in 1901 to make way for Macy’s, and other stores soon followed. The clock on the island where Broadway meets 6th Avenue is all that is left of the building that was occupied by the New York Herald until 1921.

    • Broadway at 6th Ave

    Ornamental clock, Herald Square
  10. Macy’s

    Former whaler R. H. Macy founded the store in 1858 on 6th Avenue and 14th Street; the red star logo was from his tattoo, a souvenir of sailing days. Innovations included pricing goods a few cents below a full dollar and offering a money-back guarantee. The store was sold in 1888 and moved to the present building.

    Macy’s façade
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