Living in the Meatpacking District: Things to Do and See in the Meatpacking District
Meatpacking District—Downtown’s Playground
The Meatpacking District is a neighborhood transformed. This small enclave on the West Side of Manhattan, bordering the Hudson River, the West Village, and Chelsea, was once home to hundreds of meatpacking plants, slaughterhouses, factories, and warehouses during the first half of the 20th century, and, after decades of decline from the 1960s to early ‘90s, during which it became an edgy, downmarket nightspot, it has emerged as the most fashionable neighborhood in the city.
The neighborhood’s sleek, modern facelift pays homage to its industrial heritage. Five original meatpacking companies still operate in the district, while 140 buildings and warehouses are preserved as part of the area’s listed status under the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a community of artists, entrepreneurs, and influencers, who are drawn to its enviable location along the Chelsea waterfront with proximity to the West Chelsea Arts District and Hudson Docks, high-end dining and shopping, and leading-edge architecture: luxury developments along the High Line and cavernous cast-iron lofts, which seem far removed from the bustling streetscape below.
This neighborhood has been called “downtown’s playground.” By day, its street scene is a draw for savvy shoppers, tourists, art and architecture enthusiasts, by night its clubs and cocktail bars attract fashionistas, artists, celebrities, and models.
The Meatpacking District is on the far West Side of Manhattan, bordering Chelsea to the North and East and the West Village to the South.
- East to West Boundaries: Hudson Street to the Hudson River
- North to South Boundaries: West 14th Street to Gansevoort St
- Subway: A, C, E, L
- Ticket out of the City: West Street Highway; the Holland Tunnel
Because of the neighborhood’s blue-collar roots, it has become a magnet for fashionistas and artists, and a nexus for high-end designer apparel, and retail stores and luxury boutique hotels that seek a distinctive urban ambiance. The wide, walkable streets are a showcase for the area’s 21st-century, starchitect-designed buildings with their alluring experimental forms and sleek, gleaming façades.
Here, modernism and minimalism meet low-rise red-brick, gargoyle-clad buildings on cobblestone streets, and this clash of architectural styles offers the perfect urban backdrop for the area’s bustling nightlife and that raw, industrial vibrance sought by filmmakers, tourists, and the fashion-minded out for a night on the town. It’s a hotbed of creativity, a place to find the latest trends in food and fashion, art and architecture—where the past meets the present and the sky, for some buildings, is literally the limit.
In 2003, the remnants of the old meatpacking factories were preserved as the Gansevoort Market Historic District. In 2007, the entire Meatpacking District was added to the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. Because of the neighborhood’s largely landmark status, real estate inventory, although available, is hard to come by and very competitively priced.
For the luxury home buyer, the Meatpacking District offers an out-of-the-ordinary urban experience. The growing real estate inventory includes converted loft spaces, 19th-century Greek Revival townhouses, contemporary developments, eco-friendly buildings, and art-inspired high-rises along the High Line. Add to that all the amenities one could wish for: panoramic skyline and waterfront views and easy access to Manhattan’s Hudson River Greenway that stretches from the Battery to Washington Heights and to Pier 55, which developers hope to redesign as a futuristic floating park.
The Meatpacking District has its fair share of ultra-fashionable hotel lounges, bars, and clubs; among them are Plunge Rooftop Lounge and Bar at the Gansevoort hotel, the Standard Biergarten, the Brass Monkey, and the Members-only Soho House New York.
It’s also a destination for round-the-clock fine dining. Foodies have a choice of classic eateries like Valbella, or the longest continually running restaurant in the nation, the beloved Old Homestead Steakhouse (established in 1886), as well as one-Michelin-star restaurant Gunter Seeger NY. In addition, there are many mainstays such as Spice Market, Untitled, Santina, and Pastis. In addition, Chelsea Market (from 1898 to 1959, Oreo cookies and Nilla Wafers were produced here) and Gansevoort Market have the largest collection of gourmet-food retailers in the city.
The Artist’s Block
The High Line, the 30-foot-high elevated greenway that was rediscovered and reseeded in 2009 is the neighborhood’s vast outdoor garden, running atop the historic elevated railway tracks from Gansevoort to West 34th Street in Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. It cuts through the neighborhood and offers visitors unique viewing angles of the neighborhood’s architecture (and at times, unobstructed views into apartments) and hosts outdoor art installations, impromptu concerts and dance recitals.
The neighborhood is a popular backdrop for photo shoots and feature films, as well as a location for contemporary art spaces, such as FotoFoam visual arts gallery, LUMAS, Allouche Gallery, the Milk Gallery, and the Sales Gallery for The Xi, housed in Bjarke Ingels mixed-use development.
But it is the Whitney Museum of Art, which relocated from the Upper East Side in 2015 into a Renzo Piano-designed building in the Meatpacking District, that has become the center of the Meatpacking art scene: It is adjacent to the southern tip of the High Line and functions almost as its indoor extension.
The Meatpacking District, though small in its footprint, has a number of private schools: College-preparatory Catholic Notre Dame School of Manhattan and Corlears School for grades 2-5, as well as the highly ranked PK-5 PS 41, the Lower Manhattan Community Middle School, and NYC Lab High School for Collaborative Studies.
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