Lively cultural expression against the backdrop of old world factories and trendy boutiques defines the experience of exploring Chelsea. Since welcoming the migration of art galleries from SoHo in the mid-1990s, Chelsea has evolved from a gritty industrial center to a hip and culturally rich community. Currently inhabiting the area between 39th to 15th Streets and the Hudson River to Fifth Avenue, Chelsea has grown into a most vibrant New York neighborhood.
While only recently fully realized as a destination for artists and their works, Chelsea has a historical connection to the arts, including its past as a popular filming location for motion pictures before World War I. Today, Chelsea is home to more than 350 art galleries featuring modern and well-established artists. Take a stroll from 16th Street to 27th Street to preview up and coming artists before they make it big. The Rubin Museum of Art houses a permanent collection of Himalayan art, and the Chelsea Art Museum houses informal and abstract 20th and 21st century art. Performance venues in the area include the Dance Theater Workshop, the Joyce Theater, and The Kitchen, all of which are dedicated to challenging mainstream conceptions of art.
Chelsea offers a vast array of specialized boutiques to guarantee visitors will stumble upon just what they're looking for, whether it's a used guitar at Dan's Chelsea Guitars, a cute vintage dress at Angel Street Thrift Shop, or a funky '70s couch at Mantiques Modern. The Barneys CO-OP continues to draw shoppers from all over New York City for its discounted prices. At night, take in the savory stylings of Chelsea's top-quality restaurants, and then check out any number of nightclubs blasting everything from punk to soul music to spot artists in their element. Chelsea also has a large number of gay clubs, including Barracuda and XL.
Even with ever-expanding development, there is a stronghold of supporters fighting for Chelsea's enduring factory aesthetic. Recently, the Friends of the High Line fought to keep alive and revive an old railroad viaduct running through the neighborhood. Instead of trendy condos, the High Line was re-populated with plant life to become a park on stilts. Similarly, the Chelsea Piers have been re-imagined as a vast sports facility, broadening Chelsea's appeal to families, in addition to art appreciators.