by Judy Stein
Anchoring the southern end of the High Line and home to both long established wholesale meat packers and the latest trend setting shops, clubs and restaurants—the Meatpacking District is a neighborhood in transition.
The Meatpacking District is experiencing an evolution from industrial to cutting-edge trendy.
Originally known as Gansevoort Market, the area just south of West 14th Street and from Hudson Street to the Hudson River was once home to 250 slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants.
Today, this formerly gritty district is arguably the hottest new thing in urban chic.
By day, 35wholesale meat companies still operate in the neighborhood, and this blue-collar presence exists side-by-side with tony galleries, pricey furniture showrooms, high-end fashion designers and hair stylists, and the swanky Hotel Gansevoort, which opened in April of 2004.
On weekends and at night, the stylish restaurants and hip clubs attract throngs of young people.
Clubs like PM and Cielo are packed three-deep at the bar.
Standout restaurants in the area include the très chic French bistro Pastis, the eclectic 5 Ninth (be forewarned that this free-standing 1848 town house has no identifying mark on it to indicate that you have arrived at your destination,) and Spice Market, French culinary star Jean-Georges Vongerichten's latest venture, an exotic pan-Asian street-vendor food temple.
As the rents rise and developers eye the increasingly desirable real estate, several preservationist groups have worked to acquire historic landmark status for the district.
A 75 year old elevated railway known as The High Line is slated to be preserved as a 1.5 mile long public park along the Hudson River. The High Line links the Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea and Meatpacking Districts and is envisioned to be a grand, public promenade. The first section of the High Line opened on June 8, 2009. The second section (doubling the size) opened on June 9, 2011.
Visit the Meat Packing District, Chelsea and most of Manhattan on a Minibus Tour to see and learn more about these neighborhoods.
Some natives complain this district west of Greenwich Village has morphed from meat packing to meat market FPPO (for pretty people only).
Hopefully, the recent designation as a protected historic area will preserve what is left of its cobblestone streets, brick facades and metal awnings, because this industrial area is unique among the landmarks of Manhattan.
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