The look and feel of Chelsea is not at all unlike that of its southern neighbor, the West Village. Chelsea too boasts beautiful brownstones and cozy tree-lined streets full of quaint shops, flavorful cafes and colorful nightlife. However the area is more spread out and is set in a grid-like structure versus the West Village. Nevertheless, Chelsea does have a similar, indescribable 'neighborhood' feel that makes it so appealing.
While many neighborhoods are defined by its streets, Chelsea's avenues define much of its flair, and Seventh through Ninth Avenues are the most active commercial thoroughfares in the area. Newer developments, both commercial and residential, are cropping up further west as the Chelsea area continues to sprout up as the last remaining developmental frontier of Manhattan. The revitalization of the Highline railway system along Tenth Avenue, now an incredible park and recreation destination, has much to do with the neighborhood’s growth, especially in this specific niche of Chelsea. What’s more, in recent history, Chelsea has been dotted with several modern high-rise buildings, though none overshadow its most storied building, 23rd Street's own famous Hotel Chelsea.
The Flatiron District just to the East, named for the historic triangle-shaped building that splits Broadway and Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street and stretches south, emerged as Chelsea's cousin. This as-popular area is mainly comprised of lofts and tenement buildings, many of which were built in the early part of the 20th Century.
Chelsea’s namesake was coined by a British Major who made his home here and titled it after his manor in Chelsea, London. It was around the early 1800s that the neighborhood first began to blossom. Once an area filled with gardens, Chelsea saw row houses starting to erect between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, and eventually further east, many of which still exist today. Chelsea did stay rather lush with greenery until the mid 1800s, when the freight railroad came in and caused Tenth Avenue to be a dividing line between the waterfront and the rest of the neighborhood.
One of the area's more famous landmarks, the Hotel Chelsea, was built in 1883. Over the years, it has housed the likes of well-known artists, playwrights, authors and musicians, and the building continues this tradition today.
Much like the West Village during the late 1800s and early 1900s, Chelsea, particularly to the west, became home to many longshoremen. The waterfront was eventually revitalized, and now houses a large sports and recreation facility known as Chelsea Piers. By the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, many small theaters appeared in the area, as did numerous lofts and warehouse spaces housing furs, clothing and food including the former NABISCO building, now the Chelsea Market. To the east, the area of Flatiron developed around the building of its namesake, which was completed in 1902.
While there's some debate over the Chelsea and Flatiron borders, Chelsea's main boundaries can be found from Broadway to the east, the Hudson River to the west, and up to approximately 30th Street, beginning north of 14th Street. Flatiron in particular stretches from Broadway north of Union Square into the mid-20s, bounded by Park Avenue South to the east and Broadway to the west. Many prewar townhouses, lofts and tenement-style buildings can be found amidst newer high-rises. Much of west Chelsea is also home to New York's visual arts community which houses over 370 art galleries and innumerable artist studios. The revitalization of the Highline railway, now a designated green space, has also spurred major commercial and residential growth in the area. The neighborhood can be accessed by the N and R trains, as well as the 1, C and E subway lines. West Chelsea is mainly accessible by buses, primarily the M23 which runs all the way to the waterfront and Chelsea Piers.