Chelsea is a neighborhood on the West Side of the Manhattan borough of New York City. It is located to the south of Hell's Kitchen and the Garment District, and north of Greenwich Village, and the Meatpacking District that centers on West 14th Street. The neighborhood is part of Manhattan Community Board 4 and Manhattan Community Board 5. An area in the neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Chelsea Historic District.
Chelsea is sometimes referred to along with Clinton (more commonly known by its traditional name "Hell's Kitchen") as Manhattan West. A longstanding weekly newspaper is called the "Chelsea-Clinton News."
Chelsea takes its name from a Federal-style house of retired British Major Thomas Clarke, who named his home after the manor of Chelsea, London, which was home to Sir Thomas More. Clarke's house was inherited by his daughter Charity and her husband Benjamin Moore, and was the birthplace of writer Clement Clarke Moore, credited with writing "A Visit From St. Nicholas" and author of the first Greek and Hebrew lexicons printed in the United States.
"Chelsea" stood surrounded by its gardens on a full block between Ninth and Tenth Avenues south of 23rd Street until it was replaced by high quality row houses in the mid-19th century. The former rural charm of the neighborhood was tarnished by the freight railroad right-of-way of the Hudson River Railroad, which laid its tracks up Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in 1847 and separated Chelsea from the Hudson River waterfront. Clement Clarke Moore gave the land of his apple orchard for the General Theological Seminary, which built its brownstone Gothic tree-shaded campus south of "Chelsea."
By 1900, the neighborhood was solidly Irish and housed the longshoremen who unloaded freighters at warehouse piers that lined the nearby waterfront and the truck terminals integrated with the raised freight railroad spur. The film On the Waterfront (1954) recreates this tough world, dramatized in Richard Rodgers' 1936 jazz ballet Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.
Chelsea was an early center for the motion picture industry before World War I. Some of Mary Pickford's first pictures were made on the top floors of an armory building on West 26th Street.
In the late 19th century West 23rd Street was the center of American theater.
London Terrace was one of the world's largest apartment blocks when it opened in 1930, with a swimming pool, solarium, gymnasium, and doormen dressed as London bobbies. Other major housing complexes in the Chelsea area are Penn South - a Mitchell-Lama development and the NYCHA-built and operated Fulton Houses and Elliott Chelsea Houses. All four are clustered together. The Elliot Chelsea Houses are the site of one of three facilities operated by the Hudson Guild, a settlement house dating back to 1895. That building, named for founder John Lovejoy Elliot, contains an off-Broadway theater and fine arts programs.
In the early 1940s tons of Uranium for the Manhattan Project were stored in the Baker & Williams Warehouse at 513-519 West 20th Street. The uranium was only removed and decontaminated in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
Traditionally, Chelsea was bounded on the east by Eighth Avenue, but in 1883 the apartment block, soon transformed to Hotel Chelsea helped extend it past Seventh Avenue, and now it runs as far east as Sixth Avenue. The neighborhood is primarily residential with a mix of tenements, apartment blocks and rehabilitated warehousing, and its many businesses reflect that diversity: ethnic restaurants, delis and clothing boutiques are plentiful. Tekserve, a vast Apple computer repair shop, serves nearby Silicon Alley and the area's large creative community. Chelsea has a large gay population, stereotyped as gym-toned "Chelsea boys." The McBurney "Y" on West 23rd Street, commemorated in the hit Village People song Y.M.C.A., sold its home and relocated to a new facility on West 14th Street, the neighborhood's southern border.
Most recently, Chelsea has become an alternative shopping destination with Barneys CO-OP - which replaced the much larger original Barneys flagship store - Comme des Garçons, and Balenciaga boutiques, as well as being near Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Christian Louboutin. Chelsea Market, on the ground floor of the former NABISCO Building, is a destination for food lovers.