(We Do Want To Go To) Chelsea

Huge fan of Elvis Costello — couldn’t help myself with today’s title.

But to be fair, I’m talking about today’s Chelsea in New York, not 1978 in southwest London.  

One of Manhattan’s oldest neighborhoods, lower west side Chelsea has become our favorite part of the city in which to gallery hop, wander street by cobblestone street and nibble our way to happiness.  


In the mid-1700s, retired British Major Thomas Clarke named his landed estate here “Chelsea,” after a veterans’ hospital in London.  100 years later, Chelsea remained the name when the estate was sold and the neighborhood grew up around it.

Clarke’s family remained society bigwigs here well into the mid-1800s, when Clarke’s grandson, Clement Clarke Moore, became famous for penning Twas the Night Before Christmas; over 100 years after his death, Moore would be honored with the creation of Clement Clarke Moore Park at 10th Avenue and 22nd Street.

In 1847, when the Hudson River Railroad sliced through Chelsea, it brought tough longshoreman and railroad workers to the neighborhood, and it’s been a long road back to gentrification.  

When I was an NYU student in the early 1990s, Chelsea was still making that transition.  I used to come here to dance with transvestites and goth kids in the legendary nightclub-in-a-church, Limelight.  But Chelsea today feels simultaneously historic, intimate, fashionable and cutting edge.  

On our last visit, we loved checking out:

The modern art at:

Jonathan LeVine Gallery
Mixed Greens
Gallery Henoch
Andrea Rosen
McKee Gallery
Leo Koenig Inc.
Sperone Westwater



Chelsea Market (75 9th Avenue b/t 15th & 16th Streets).  The fanciest food court in town, save for the the one in Grand Central Station.  Grab the best milkshake you’ve ever had at Ronnybrook Dairy or prowl through obscure Italian specialities at Buon Italia.

Tía Pol (205 Tenth Avenue near 22nd Street) A cozy, friendly tapas bar with a lovely wine list and offbeat specialties like a spread of bittersweet chocolate paired with spicy chorizo on thin slices of crusty bread.  Have a glass of cava and be sure to order the fried chickpeas.

Three Tarts (164 Ninth Avenue at 20th Street) At this gem of a sweets-and-gift shop, treat yourselves to an exquisite chocolate yumball or pick up packable souvenirs like a matchbox printed with an old map of New York.

Pictured here, the Romanesque Revival Church of the Guardian Angel (193 W. 21st Street at Tenth Avenue).


  1. […] Went to New York City for several days to visit family, wander through Chelsea, conduct some business and explore Brooklyn. Took a side jaunt to see my oldest friend and her new […]

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