Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Summer in New York City

Discovering New York's 
Chelsea Market, Meat Packing District and High Line

The Meat Packing District (above) was once just that -- a place where large cattle carcasses were hung and hastily cut up, and then packed and shipped to restaurants and food suppliers. When I first moved to the city 20 years ago, this area was not a destination, except late at night, where a few dance clubs pumped up throbbing music, lots of pots and pan beats here, where men and women (but mostly men) dressed in all kinds of tight, leathery, lascivious attire, and where you wouldn't leave unless you had assembled a large group for protection.  Oh, and after leaving, and before going to Restaurant Florent, club goes needed to dodge the slimy streets, the animal slurry, and the smelly air. Enough said.

  Today, it is a crowded, trendy area of the city filled with luxury retail shops and star-studded hotels. The former slaughtered animal warehouses have been replaced with high-priced art galleries and shops that carry $15,000 tufted Belgian linen sofas.  New York is like this  -- it always has been -- a place that is constantly transforming itself.  It never gets old.  It's a continuous evolution, vital and vibrant, even for those of us who live here. 

With the first day of school still almost 4 weeks away, and the words "no more screen time" echoing in my head, I commandeered my daughter, one of her good friends, and her fine arts educated parents, whose own sense of wanderlust surpasses mine, for a field trip to this thriving area.

Of course Brooklyn (above) has so much to offer that even the children stopped to ask --
 "why go to Manhattan!" But off we went, nonetheless.

First stop:


 Chelsea Market, a former Nabisco factory taking up an entire city block, is one of the largest, most trafficked food halls in the country.  Located just a block from the Hudson, on 15th Street and 9th Avenue, it offers numerous lunch options, with over 35 vendors. Our choice -- the Seafood Market, filled with fresh fish, prepared sushi and for the kids, Clam Chowder:

Savory & Sweet!

The main concourse at the Chelsea Market has vendors catering to every palate - from the Manhattan Fruit Exchange, to Amy's Bread, to Eleni's Bakery to a variety of smaller specialty shops such as Savory Pies and Doughnuttery (below):

Next up:
A stroll on the High Line

The High Line, once an elevated railroad track, sat unused and in disrepair for years. It hadn't accommodated a train since the 1960s. Almost demolished over a decade ago, and stretching at least 20 blocks above the street, today it is one of the city's most popular and celebrated public spaces, it has helped resurrect the meat packing district, and has spurred the development of over $2 billion in luxury condo and office buildings. It's incredible, and after the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, etc. should be "high" up on any tourist's to do list. 

 There are all kinds of activities, tours and events on the High Line, daily. Check out the website:

Telling contrast -- the lush green high line above the urban concrete jungle.

The original rail road ties still exist, and were incorporated into the elaborate award-winning garden design on the High Line (above and below). 

The innovate plant designs were created using mostly indigenous plants. The gardens are decorative, restful and modern - an oasis. 

One of the many shops in the Chelsea Market, Anthropologie carries colorful dishes and table wear that make any meal delectable.

Final Stop

The New Whitney museum,  at the end of the High Line.

The terrace extending from the seventh floor of the new Whitney Museum building, designed by Renzo Piano
As soon as you walk off the elevator and into the new Whitney Museum of American Art, you know you are in for a treat.  As expected, there are the works by American staple artists, Georgia O'Keeffe and Edward Hopper. Intermixed with these masterpieces are lesser-known (as yet) pieces that charmingly keep up with the big boys. Oh, and this museum is perfect for kids, it is filled with vibrantly colored works like this one by by Elizabeth Murray, Children Meeting:

The Meat Packing District, High Line and Whitney can get congested, especially on weekends.  Restaurants in the area remain crowded most of the day and often it's even hard to find a seat on park benches.  So after enjoying these sights, we headed south, to the quieter streets of the West Village. One of our favorite rest stops --  Cafe Cluny:

...where an espresso drink, iced tea or better yet, a nice glass of wine can be enjoyed -- in a beautiful French cafe. Cafe Cluny also has a new ice cream line, perfect for the kids. 

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