A waterfront complex designed by Warren & Wetmore and opened in 1910, these piers were a major hub for both freight and passenger liners; many immigrants actually docked here first before being taken by ferry to Ellis Island. Troops departed from here to the European front in both world wars.
As passengers took to the air and freight traffic shifted to New Jersey, the Chelsea Piers declined, until by the 1980s they were almost demolished for the West Side Highway project. When that fell through, the piers were turned over to a private entity, Chelsea Piers Management, for development into a sports complex--which opened in stages starting in 1995.
550 (corner): A medium-security women's
prison. Built in 1931 as the Seamen's House
YMCA; converted to drug rehab center in 1967,
and to a prison in 1974. The south wall
features a red-and-pink abstract mural
Venus, painted in 1970 by
Bridging the street here is a disused elevated railroad that was used to transport
freight along the Westside waterfront, replacing the street-level tracks at 10th and 11th avenues that earned those roads the nickname "Death Avenue." Built in 1929 at a cost of $150 million
(more than $2 billion in today's dollars), it originally
stretched from 35th Street to St. John's Park Terminal,
now the Holland Tunnel rotary.
Partially torn down in
1960 and abandoned in 1980, it now stretches from Gansevoort almost
to 34th--mostly running mid-block, so built to avoid
dominating an avenue with an
elevated platform. In its abandonment, the High Line
became something of a natural wonder, overgrown with
weeds and even trees, accessible only to those who risked
trespassing on CSX Railroad property.
In 2009 it was
opened to the public as New York City's newest park; it truly
transforms its neighborhood and hence the city. Until 2011, the
portion opened to the public ended here, where there is a stairway to street level; in that year, ten more blocks were
opened up, extending to 30th Street.
W E S T
2 0 T H
S T R E E T
Corner (120 11th Ave): Was The Spike,
the largest leather bar of the pre-AIDS era
Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road here in 1951--his mother's house.
446-450: Outstanding Italianate houses (1855)
406-418:Cushman Row, seven Greek Revival town houses (1839-40) built by Don Alonzo Cushman, one of
Chelsea's main developers. See plaque
on No. 412.
404: Oldest house in Chelsea historic district (1830); originally Federal, went through Greek Revival
and Italianate alterations.
402: 1897 Classical Revival apartments;
"DONAC" over doorway is a tribute to Don Alonzo Cushman (who,
despite his name, was not at all Latin). Poet LeRoi Jones,
later known as Amiri Baraka, lived here in
1958-59; Allen Ginsberg came over to play bongos.
Corner (169 9th Ave): La Bergamote, French cafe/bakery
The oldest seminary of the Episcopal
church, GTS was founded in 1817 and built here
on land donated in 1822 by local landowner
Clement Clarke Moore, who also taught Greek
and Bible studies at the seminary.
This main building, from 1960, is the entrance
to the block-long campus, as well as housing
St Marks Library, the nation's leading
evangelical library, with the world's largest
collection of Latin Bibles. On this site was
the East Building, in 1827 one of the earliest
Gothic Revival buildings.
10th Precinct, NYPD. Covers the area between 14th Street and 43rd, west
of 7th Avenue below 29th Street, west of 9th Avenue above. There were only
two murders reported in this precinct in 2002. This is the
precinct featured in the 1948 film Naked City--though the
murder takes place on West 83rd Street.
228: The title character lived here in the
1999-2001 TV series Norm.
243: In the 1970s, this was the Women's Liberation Center;
also provided space for Lesbian Feminist Liberation,
which split from the male-dominated Gay Activists Alliance in 1973.
Now Non-Traditional Employment for Women, training and placing
women in male-dominated trades.
134: Was Ceramica Arnon, glass tiles--
now on 27th Street
120: Tony Color, one of many businesses in the Photo District serving photographers and graphic designers
Simpson Crawford Building
Corner (641 6th Ave): Motherhood Maternity is in this 1900 department store building (the business was on
this site 1879-1915). Simpson-Crawford was the ritziest store on 6th Avenue when this was New York's main shopping
district. No price tags here; if you
had to ask, you couldn’t afford it.
W E S T
2 0 T H
Corner: Advisory TV & Radio Labs, repair shop
155-165: Fantasy moderne co-op designed by noted architect Horace Ginsbern.
121: Village Nursing Home; Chelsea Adult & Day Health Center
Corner (655 6th Ave): Men's Wearhouse is on ground floor of the former Hugh
O’Neill building (1887); O'Neill was known as "The
Fighting Irishman of 6th Avenue." More working-class than retail neighbors. Name still visible from across street.
36: Set Shop, store for setting
photographic shoots. Formerly David's
Outfitters, which sold everything from
tuxedos to police uniforms. The 8th floor
Fusebox/Twelve Point Rule, a graphic design
and new media firm; formerly Weiss Belt Co. The 11th Floor
used to be Edward Vondrak, furniture restorer;
before that a button factory.
28: Eden, lounge/restaurant
20:VIP Club, a strip club that added
more floor space to get around the Giuliani rules.
Underneath is the Westside Rifle and Pistol Range,
home to the Women's Shooting Sports League.
12: Sam Flax, frames and stuff
Methodist Book Concern
Corner (150 5th Ave): Manhattan Color Labs, Lenscrafters are in this 1890 building; part of the collection of
publishers and other offices along Fifth Avenue known as Paternoster Row. See "M.B.C." on cornice.
W E S T
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S T R E E T
Corner (660 6th Ave): A dance club since 1990; has been
closed down at times over accusations of drug
as well as general opposition to nightlife. Now operating
under the name Club Avalon.
Was Church of the Holy Communion (1846), designed by
Richard Upjohn, who
designed the new Trinity Church about the same time. First pastor was
William Augustus Muhlenberg, whose donated books became the core of the Muhlenberg branch of the NY Public Library
on 23rd Street.
37: Photo District Gallery; Baboo Color Lab. Check out metalwork on doors.
35: Periyali; Greek
27: Upstairs from U.S. Color Lab and Paper Cuts is
The West Side Club, New York's premier gay
bathhouse. On the 9th floor is
Chocolat Moderne, hand-crafting decadent dark
17:Spoon Catering was C'est Bon Deli Restaurant; Dennis Laminating, "Portfolio Perfectionist"
131 5th Ave: Clearly this building is not on Fifth Avenue.
Corner (901 Broadway): This Bohemian renaissance building housed the Lord & Taylor
department store from 1869-1914; Now Villeroy & Boch, a glassware
store that's been around this neighborhood for more than a century.
In the 1990s, the building housed an upscale strip club.
E A S T
2 0 T H
Corner: The Body Shop; now that they're disowning their founder's politics, they're more annoying than ever.
5: Fleur-de-Sel, Breton restaurant
named for a kind of sea salt
7: Dale Electronics is in the Holtz Building.
Address of Billy the Oysterman; mentioned in 1939 WPA Guide as being
"well-known for seafood."
11: T Salon/T Emporium; fancy tea
Corner (903 Broadway): Portico Furniture is in a 1887
Stanford White building designed in a
Renaissance Revival style.
26: Originally identical to No. 28 next door; was used as a guide to reconstruction, then torn down to make
a Teddy Roosevelt museum. Designed by Theodate
Pope Riddle, one of first female architects.
28: Teddy Roosevelt born here October 27, 1858; Roosevelts lived here 1854-72. TR's brother Elliot,
Eleanor's father, also born here. Originally built 1848;
demolished 1916; after TR's death in 1919, a wave of
nostalgia led to its reconstruction in 1923 as a memorial.
32:No Idea, smart-alecky bar
36-38: Remedy, restaurant/lounge
40:Flute, champagne bar.
42: The acclaimed (and expensive) Gramercy Tavern is in the 1890s N.S. Meyer Building--makers of armed forces equipment.
Now known as the
Bullmoose Condominium, named for Teddy Roosevelt's independent party.
52 (corner): Fancy Latin restaurant Patria is on the site of the
home of poet Alice Cary
E A S T
2 0 T H
S T R E E T
23: Uno Mundo, quirky gifts, is in the building that used to house the Performance Studio, a rehearsal and recording space where the Ramones played their first gig on March 1, 1974.
25: Iron Copy Shop has a display of antique irons in the window.
27: Bangkok Cafe
29: Mizu Sushi
31:La Pizza Fresca is the only New York member of
La Vera Pizza Napoletana, the Naples-based association of
39: Nuturo-Medical Health Care
41:Silver Swan, old-school German
noted for its wine list, though the food is supposed to be good too.
Arthur Sullivan stayed at this address in 1879 during a production of HMS Pinafore. He finished the
music for The Pirates of Penzance here.
10: Studio and home of painter Robert Henri (1909-29).
12: Note gaslight.
National Arts Club
15: Founded 1906; members have included presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson,
architect Stanford White, painters Robert Henri and George Bellows, sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Frederick
Remington, and millionaires J.P. Morgan, Henry Clay Frick and B. Altman. House built 1845, remodeled 1881-84 by
Calvert Vaux for Samuel Tilden, NY governor robbed of the 1876 presidential election. Tilden's library became part of NY
Public Library core. Note heads of writers and philosophers. Building was featured in film version of The Age of
Innocence, Woody Allen's Manhattan Murder Mystery and the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair.
In 2002, the club launched a lawsuit against the park committee for not allowing (mostly black and Latino)
schoolchildren to be the club's guests on tours of the park.
The Players Club
16: Actors' club founded by Edwin Booth, Shakespearean actor (and John Wilkes' brother); members
included Mark Twain, Thomas Nash, Booth Tarkington, Winston Churchill, General Sherman, Lawrence Olivier,
Tony Randall, Christopher Reeve and James Earl Jones. Stanford White, member, remodeled 1888. Women not admitted
until 1989; actresses Helen Hayes, Lauren Bacall, Lillian Gish and opera singer Leontyne Price were soon inducted.
17: School of Visual Arts housing--lucky students.
In 1909, this was the home of the
Technology Club, MIT's
18 (corner): A 17-story building from 1927,
built as the Parkside Hotel on the former site of the
Columbia University Club. Since 1963 it's been the Salvation Army's
Evangeline Residence Hall, for women only;
a haven for aspiring actresses and models.
Sean Young is a former resident.) The Salvation Army
has been trying to sell the place, but as far as I
can tell it hasn't gone condo yet.
19: This 1845 rowhouse was remodeled in 1887 by Stanford White for Fish, a railroad magnate
and descendant of Peter Stuyvesant. His wife Mamie made this house the center of New York society in the late 1800s.
Their son, the first in a line of Hamilton Fishes, grew up here. Bought by PR
legend Benjamin Sonnenberg, 1931. Considered the gem of the neighborhood.
Randolph Bourne, who said ''war is the health of the
state,'' died here in the flu epidemic of 1918,
at the home of his friend Paul Rosenfeld,
music critic for The Dial.
Norman Thomas, six-time Socialist
Party candidate for president, lived here 1941-45.
21: Site of home of New York Post co-owner (1848-1861)
Bigelow; as ambassador to France during Civil War, he was credited with blocking French support for Confederacy.
Bigelow helped found and was first president of the New York Public Library.
23: Edwin Gould Foundation for Children
24: Site of Thomas Edison home (1881-83). Demolished 1908.
26:Irving House was home to Booth Tarkington,
author of The Magnificent Ambersons. Later a hotel; now a co-op. Madeline creator Ludwig Bemelmans is also said to have lived
here, though sources differ.
144 E. 20th St.: Was Friends' Meeting House,
which merged with the meeting on
the synagogue moved here from the building it shared
with the Village Presbyterian Church on West 13th after a falling-out
over the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.
Columbia University's James Stewart Polshek designed the adjacent Garden of Remembrance.
NYC's only private park. Named for Crommessie Brook, "Crooked Little Knife" in Dutch. Purchased by Peter
Stuyvesant from Dutch West
India Co., 1651; deeded to freed slave Frans Bastiansen, 1674. In 1761, it was acquired by James Duane, later
NYC's first post-independence mayor; he named it Gramercy Farm. Bought in 1831 by lawyer Samuel Ruggles, who laid out Gramercy Park.
Each owner of the lots surrounding Gramercy Park has a share in the park--and a key
to get through the gate. Disputes between key-holders over how best to maintain the park have caused bitter
splits in the neighborhood.
Compared to similar parks that
are open to the public like Tompkins, Washington and
Union squares, Gramercy suffers from a marked lack of energy
and life. The neighborhood would benefit greatly from
a less restrictive access policy, but it's hard
to imagine the residents who own the place giving up the thrill
In the center of the park is a statue of Edwin Booth as Hamlet (Edmond Quinn, 1918).
The sculpture of a smiling Sun and Moon with
dancing giraffes is Gregg Wyatt's Fantasy Fountain
34 (cor- ner): An 1883 highrise, perhaps the
city's first co-op, designed by George W. da Cunha.
Its "Queen Anne forms are among the city's most spectacular"--
Guide. It's been home to film stars James Cagney,
John Carra- dine and Margeret Hamilton. Its original
elevators were replaced in 1994 after 111 years of service.
Corner (244 3rd Ave):Barfly is a 1987
tavern in an 1837 building that was for many years the
Homeopathic Medical College.
Corner: Named for the
sculptor of Farragut Memorial, Madison Square; Peter Cooper
statue, Cooper Union; Sherman statue, Central Park. New York Skin & Cancer Unit,
one of the leading cancer institutions in its day,
was on this site.
320:Augustus Saint-Gaudens School, Salk School of Science. The artist Saint-Gaudens--unlike pioneering Dr. Jonas Salk--went to school at P.S. 40, which earlier stood on the same site. The exterior of this building appears in The Wizards of Waverly Place TV show as Tribeca Prep, the school attended by the three young wizards of the title.
334:Holy Trinity Slovak Lutheran Church,
founded 1902, building from 1964.
Petersfield was what Peter Stuyvesant's estate was
called by his descendants. Art on 1st Avenue side of
this playground suggests various other Peters it
could be named for, including Cooper, Pan,
Parker, Piper, Pumpkin-Eater and Rabbit--not to
mention "and the Wolf." On site of the New
York Post-Graduate Medical School and Hospital.
325: At this defunct address gangster Arnold Rothstein was born on January
17, 1882 (though his birthplace is often misreported
as East 47th Street). Rothstein, said to be the
model for The Great Gatsby's Meyer Wolfsheim
and Damon Runyon's Nathan Detroit, is best
remembered for allegedly fixing the 1919 World Series.
(330 E 21st):Simon Baruch Middle School
--named for a doctor, the father of financier
Bernard Baruch, who was an advocate of public baths.
Built in the late 1940s by Met Life Insurance Co. as affordable housing for World War II vets; the private development had a great deal of public support, organized by city power broker Robert Moses. Eighteen city blocks containing 600 buildings were leveled for the project.
When Met Life sold it, along with Peter Cooper Village -- a total of 110 apartment buildings -- for $5.4 billion in 2006, it was reportedly the biggest real estate transaction in history...and perhaps the worst, since it was negotiated just as the housing bubble was about to pop. The purchaser was Tishman Speyer Properties, a real estate group that owned Rockefeller Center, among other things. Failing in a scheme to convert rent-stablized apartments to market rate, Tishman Speyer turned over the property to its creditors in 2010 to avoid bankruptcy.
Built on the site of the notorious Gashouse District, where fumes from chemical plants
all but the poorest immigrants. The home turf of the Gashouse Gang,
a tough crew that specialized in robbing other gangs, since
there was so little to steal in their own neighborhood.
The development is named for Peter Stuyvesant, New Amsterdam's one-legged governor, who owned most of the land in this neighborhood. Autocratic, anti-democratic and intolerant, he was something of a 17th Century Giuliani. Earlier the mansion called Petersfield could be found here, less than one block east of 1st Avenue between 15th and 16th streets.
It was the home of Petrus Stuyvesant, a descendant of Peter.
Notable residents of Stuyvesant Town have included writers Frank McCourt, Mary Higgins Clark and David Brooks, Obama adviser David Axelrod and actor Paul Reiser.