Once a mixed, low-income neighborhood on the West Side, Chelsea in recent years has become a focal point for artists and galleries as well as Manhattan’s gay mecca. The art scene has blossomed thanks to the conversion of garages and warehouses between Tenth and Twelfth Avenues. In 1987, the Dia Center for the Arts became one of the pioneers in the area after establishing its main exhibition facility on West 22nd Street; ironically, it now will move down to Greenwich Village and abut the new High Line elevated park. Nevertheless, what SoHo and the 57th Street area have lost in stature has been Chelsea’s gain, and numerous well-established flagship galleries have now made Chelsea their base. Similarly, the high prices of Greenwich Village and Christopher Street area, which have had a large gay and lesbian presence since the 1960s, led many to head north to Chelsea in the late 1980s, and now further north to Hell's Kitchen. More than a decade later, Eighth Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets has one of New York’s highest concentrations of gay-operated restaurants, stores, cafes.
In fact, the ethnic diversity of Chelsea is enviable, and the neighborhood remains one of only a few places where housing ranges from high-rise projects to single-family brownstones—even on the same block! Some of Manhattan’s most affordable rent stabilized apartments can be found between Seventh and Ninth Avenues. The historic district has some fine examples of nineteenth-century New York city dwellings, and small gardens and flowering trees abound. If you think the grounds of General Theological Seminary on West 20th Street looks familiar, that's because it is frequently functions as a set for the t.v. show Law & Order!