West Village, Chelsea & Meatpacking District
Hugging the Hudson north of the Financial District are these three delightful neighborhoods, full of contradiction, culture and comestibles. The West Village's twisting streets and well-preserved town houses offer intimate spaces for dining, drinking and wandering. The Meatpacking District has evolved into a modern kind of meat market, where Manhattan's young professionals go to see and be seen in its many clubs and bars. To the north is Chelsea, home to art galleries and a vibrant gay scene. Meandering 30ft above all three districts is the green-fringed, art-strewn High Line.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout West Village, Chelsea & Meatpacking District.
It’s hard to believe that the 1½-mile-long High Line – a shining example of brilliant urban renewal – was once a dingy freight line that anchored a rather unsavory district of slaughterhouses. Today, this eye-catching attraction is one of New York's best-loved green spaces, drawing visitors who come to stroll, sit and picnic 30ft above the city – while enjoying fabulous views of Manhattan's ever-changing urban landscape. It loops around Hudson Yards and ends at 34th St.
After years of construction, the Whitney's downtown location opened to much fanfare in 2015. Anchoring the southern reaches of the High Line, this stunning building – designed by Renzo Piano – provides 63,000 sq ft of space for the museum's unparalleled collection of American art. Inside the light-filled galleries you'll find works by all the greats, including Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Georgia O’Keeffe and Mark Rothko. Unlike at many museums, special emphasis is placed on the work of living artists.
In a shining example of redevelopment and preservation, the Chelsea Market has transformed a former factory into a shopping concourse that caters to foodies. More than two dozen food vendors ply their temptations, including Mokbar (ramen with Korean accents); Takumi (mixing Japanese and Mexican ingredients); Very Fresh Noodles (hand-pulled northern Chinese noodles); Bar Suzette (crepes); Num Pang (Cambodian sandwiches); Ninth St Espresso (perfect lattes); Doughnuttery (piping hot mini-doughnuts); and Fat Witch Bakery (brownies and other decadent sugar hits).
The High Line may be all the rage these days, but one block away from that famous elevated park stretches a 5-mile-long recreational space that has transformed the city over the past decade. Covering 550 acres (400 of which are on the water) and running from Battery Park at Manhattan's southern tip to 59th St in Midtown, Hudson River Park is Manhattan's wondrous backyard. The long riverside path is a great spot for cycling, running and strolling.
This former potter’s field and square for public executions is now the unofficial town square of Greenwich Village, hosting lounging NYU students, tuba-playing street performers, socialising canines, fearless squirrels, speed-chess pros, and barefoot children who splash about in the fountain on warm days. Locals have resisted changes to the shape and uses of the park, and its layout has remained largely the same since the 1800s. Check out the Washington Square Park Conservancy (www.washingtonsquareparkconservancy.org) for news and events.
The Rubin is the first museum in the Western world to dedicate itself to the art of the Himalayas and surrounding regions. Its impressive collection spans 1500 years to the present day, and includes Chinese embroidered textiles, Nepalese gilt-copper bodhisattvas, Pakistani stone sculptures and intricate Bhutanese paintings, as well as ritual objects and dance masks from various Tibetan regions. Fascinating rotating exhibitions have included Victorious Ones, comprising sculptures and paintings of the Jinas, the 24 founding teachers of Jainism.
In 2016 President Barack Obama declared Christopher Park, a small fenced-in triangle with benches and some greenery in the heart of the West Village, a national park and on it the first national monument dedicated to LGBTIQ+ history. It's well worth stopping here to reflect on the Stonewall uprising of 1969, when LGBTIQ+ citizens fought back against discriminatory policing of their communities – many consider the event the birth of the modern LGBTIQ+ rights movement in the US.
With seven galleries across the world – including this eight-story Chelsea flagship – and decades of experience showing the work of such artists as Willem de Kooning, Barbara Hepworth and Julian Schnabel, gargantuan Pace is a landmark on any tour. With a glimmering exterior constructed from volcanic ash, the 75,000-sq-ft structure's spaces span an 18ft-ceiling gallery at street level, to more intimate confines like an appointment-only research library and a 6th-floor open-air terrace.
International works dot the walls at the Gagosian. The ever-revolving exhibits feature the work of greats such as Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Gagosian has five New York locations, and 12 more in San Francisco, London, Rome and other cities.