|Neighborhood of Manhattan|
A Chelsea streetscape
|City||New York City|
|• Total||0.774 sq mi (2.00 km2)|
|• Land||0.774 sq mi (2.00 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2) 0%|
|• Density||49,000/sq mi (19,000/km2)|
|ZIP code||10001, 10011|
|Area code(s)||212, 917, 646|
Chelsea Historic District
The Cushman Row, 406-418 W. 20th St., dates from 1840
West 19th – West 23rd Streets
Eighth –Tenth Avenues
|Architectural style||Greek Revival, Italianate, Georgian|
|NRHP Reference #||77000954 (original)
|Added to NRHP||December 6, 1977 (original)
December 16, 1982 (increase)
|Designated NYCL||September 15, 1970
February 3, 1981 (extension)
Chelsea is a neighborhood on the West Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The district's boundaries are roughly 14th Street to the south and the Hudson River and West Street to the west, with the northern boundary variously described as 30th Street or 34th Street, and the eastern boundary as either Sixth Avenue or Fifth Avenue. To the north of Chelsea is the neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen, also known as "Clinton", as well as the Hudson Yards; to the northeast is the Garment District; to the east are NoMad and the Flatiron District; to the southwest is the Meatpacking District; and to the southeast is Greenwich Village and the West Village.
Chelsea is divided between Manhattan Community Board 4 and Manhattan Community Board 5. It contains the Chelsea Historic District and its extension, which were designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1970 and 1981. respectively, The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, and expanded in 1982 to include contiguous blocks containing particularly significant examples of period architecture.
The neighborhood is primarily residential, with a mix of tenements, apartment blocks, city housing projects, townhouses, and renovated rowhouses, but its many retail businesses reflect the ethnic and social diversity of the population. The area has a large gay population. Chelsea is also known as one of the centers of the city's art world, with over 200 galleries in the neighborhood.
Chelsea takes its name from the estate and Georgian-style house of retired British Major Thomas Clarke, who obtained the property when he bought the farm of Jacob Somerindyck on August 16, 1750. The land was bounded by what would become 21st and 24th Streets, from the Hudson River to Eighth Avenue. Clarke chose the name "Chelsea" after the Royal Hospital Chelsea, a retirement home for soldiers in London, England. Clarke passed the estate on to his daughter, Charity, who, with her husband Benjamin Moore, added land on the south of the estate, extending it to 19th Street. The house was the birthplace of their son, Clement Clarke Moore, who in turn inherited the property. Moore is generally credited with writing "A Visit From St. Nicholas" and was the author of the first Greek and Hebrew lexicons printed in the United States.
In 1827, Moore gave the land of his apple orchard to the Episcopal Diocese of New York for the General Theological Seminary, which built its brownstone Gothic, tree-shaded campus south of the manor house. Despite his objections to the Commissioner's Plan of 1811, which ran the new Ninth Avenue through the middle of his estate, Moore began the development of Chelsea with the help of James N. Wells, dividing it up into lots along Ninth Avenue and selling them to well-heeled New Yorkers. Covenants in the deeds of sale specified what could be built on the land – stables, manufacturing and commercial uses were forbidden – as well as architectural details of the buildings.
The new neighborhood thrived for three decades, with many single family homes and rowhouses, in the process expanding past the original boundaries of Clarke's estate, but an industrial zone also began to develop along the Hudson. In 1847 the Hudson River Railroad laid its freight tracks up a right-of-way between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, separating Chelsea from the Hudson River waterfront. By the time of the Civil War, the area west of Ninth Avenue and below 20th Street was the location of numerous distilleries making turpentine and camphene, a lamp fuel. In addition, the huge Manhattan Gas Works complex, which converted bituminous coal into gas, was located at Ninth and 18th Street.
The industrialization of western Chelsea brought immigrant populations from many countries to work in the factories, including a large number of Irish immigrants, who dominated work on the Hudson River piers that lined the nearby waterfront and the truck terminals integrated with the freight railroad spur. As well as the piers, warehouses and factories, the industrial area west of Tenth Avenue also included lumberyards and breweries, and tenements built to house the workers. With the immigrant population came the political domination of the neighborhood by the Tammany Hall machine, as well as festering ethnic tensions: around 67 people died in a riot between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants on July 12, 1871, which took place around 24th Street and Eighth Avenue. The social problems of the area's workers provoked John Lovejoy Elliot to form the Hudson Guild in 1897, one of the first settlement houses – private organizations designed to provide social services.
A theater district had formed in the area by 1869, and soon West 23rd Street was the center of American theater, led by Pike's Opera House (1868, demolished 1960), on the northwest corner of Eighth 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 at 221 West 26th Street, while other studios were located on 23rd and 21st Streets.
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 1962 cooperative housing development sponsored by the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union, and the New York City Housing Authority-built and -operated Fulton Houses and Chelsea-Elliot Houses.
The massive 23-story Art Deco Walker Building, which spans the block between 17th and 18th Streets just off of Seventh Avenue, was built in the early 1930s. It typifies the real estate activity of the district, as it has been converted in 2012 to residential apartments on the top 16 floors, with Verizon retaining the lower seven floors.
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 removed and a decontamination project at the site was completed early 1990s.
People of many different cultures live in Chelsea. Above 23rd Street, by the Hudson River, the neighborhood is post-industrial, featuring the elevated High Line viaduct, which follows the river all through Chelsea. Chelsea has a large LGBT population, and is known for its social diversity and inclusion. Eighth Avenue is a center for LGBT-oriented shopping and dining, and from 16th to 22nd Streets between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, mid-nineteenth-century brick and brownstone townhouses are still occupied, a few even restored to single family use.
The stores of Chelsea reflect the ethnic and social diversity of the area's population. 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. The Chelsea Lofts district – the former fur and flower district – is located roughly between Sixth and Seventh Avenues from 23rd to 30th streets. The McBurney YMCA on West 23rd Street, commemorated in the hit Village People song Y.M.C.A., sold its home and relocated in 2002 to a new facility on 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. In the late 1990s, New York's visual arts community began a gradual transition away from SoHo, due to increasing rents and competition from upscale retailers for the large and airy spaces that art galleries require, and the area of West Chelsea between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues and 16th and 28th Streets has become a new global centers of contemporary art, home to over 200 art galleries that are home to modern art from both upcoming and respected artists. Along with the art galleries, Chelsea is home to the Rubin Museum of Art, with a focus on Himalayan art; the Graffiti Research Lab and New York Live Arts, a producing and presenting organization of dance and other movement-based arts. The community, in fact, is home to many highly regarded performance venues, among them the Joyce Theater, one of the city's premier modern dance emporiums, and The Kitchen, a center for cutting-edge theatrical and visual arts.
With a change in zoning resolution in conjunction with the development of the High Line, Chelsea experienced a new construction boom, with projects by notable architects such as Shigeru Ban, Neil Denari, Jean Nouvel, and Frank Gehry. The neighborhood was quickly gentrifying, with small businesses being replaced by big-box retailers and technology and fashion stores. With this development, more wealthy residents moved in, further widening an already-existing income gap with public-housing residents. In 2015, the average yearly household income in most of Chelsea was about $140,000. On the other hand, in the area's two public-housing developments – the Chelsea-Elliott Houses, between 25th Street, Ninth Avenue, 28th Street, and Tenth Avenue; and Fulton Houses, between 16th Street, Ninth Avenue, 19th Street, and Tenth Avenue – the average income was less than $30,000. At the same time, the area's Puerto Rican enclaves and rent-subsidized housing, especially in Penn South, was being replaced by high-rent studios. This resulted in large income disparities across the neighborhood; one block in particular – 25th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues – had the Elliot Houses on its north side and two million-dollar residences on its south side.
The Chelsea neighborhood is served by two weekly newspapers: the Chelsea-Clinton News and Chelsea Now.
Landmarks and places of interest
- Chelsea Piers – The Chelsea Piers were the city's primary luxury ocean liner terminal from 1910 until 1935, when the growing size of ships made the complex inadequate. The RMS Titanic was headed to Pier 60 at the piers and the RMS Carpathia brought survivors to Pier 54 in the complex. The northern piers are now part of an entertainment and sports complex operated by Roland W. Betts, and the southern piers are part of Hudson River Park.
- Chelsea Market – In a restored historic factory, this festival marketplace hosts a variety of shopping and dining options, including bakeries, a fish market, wine store, and many others.
- Chelsea Studios – Sound stage on 26th Street since 1914 where numerous movies and television shows have been produced.
- Church of the Holy Apostles – Built in 1845–1848 to a design by Minard Lefever, with additions by Lefever in 1853–1854, and transepts by Charles Babcock added in 1858, this Italianate church was designated a New York City landmark in 1966 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is Lefever's only surviving building in Manhattan. The building, which featured an octagonal spire, was burned in a serious fire in 1990, but stained glass windows by William Jay Bolton survived, and the church reopened in April 1994 after a major restoration. The Episcopal parish is notable for hosting the city's largest program to feed the poor, and is the second and larger home of the LGBT-oriented synagogue, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah.
- Empire Diner – An art moderne diner designed by Fodero Dining Car Company and built in 1946, altered in 1979 by Carl Laanes. Located at 210 Tenth Avenue at 22nd Street, it has been seen in several movies and mentioned in Billy Joel's song "Great Wall of China". The diner closed its doors for good on May 15, 2010, had a brief stint as "The Highliner", and most recently re-opened under its original name in January 2014.
- The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church – Its college-like close is sometimes called "Chelsea Square", a city block of tree-shaded lawns between Ninth and Tenth Avenues and West 20th and 21st Streets. The campus is ringed by more than a dozen brick and brownstone buildings in Gothic Revival style. The oldest building on the campus dates from 1836. Most of the rest were designed as a group by architect Charles Coolidge Haight, under the guidance of the Dean, Augustus Hoffman.
- Google Office, New York – Occupying the full city block between 15th & 16th Streets, and from Eighth to Ninth Avenues, at 111 Eighth Avenue, the building was once Inland Terminal 1 of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
- High Line – The High Line is an elevated rail line, the successor to the street-level freight line original built through Chelsea in 1847, which was the cause of numerous fatal accidents. It was elevated in the early 1930s by the New York Central Railroad, but fell out of use. Originally slated to be torn down, it has now been converted into an elevated urban park.
- Hotel Chelsea – Built 1883–1885 and designed by Hubert, Pirsson & Co., it was New York's first cooperative apartment complex and was the tallest building in the city until 1902. After the theater district migrated uptown and the neighborhood became commercialized, the residential building folded and in 1905 it was turned into a hotel. The hotel attracted attention as the place where Dylan Thomas had been staying when he died in 1953 at St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village, and for the 1978 slaying of Nancy Spungen for which Sid Vicious was accused. The Hotel has been the home of numerous celebrities, including Brendan Behan, Thomas Wolfe, Mark Twain, Tennessee Williams and Virgil Thomson, and the subject of books, films (Chelsea Girls, 1966) and music.
- Hudson River Park – The entire Hudson River waterfront from 59th Street to the Battery including most of associated piers is being transformed into a joint city/state park with non-traditional uses.
- Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project – Located at the northern edge of Chelsea, the project's centerpiece is a mixed-use real estate development by Related Companies. According to its master plan, created by master planner Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Hudson Yards is expected to consist of 16 skyscrapers containing more than 12,700,000 square feet (1,180,000 m2) of new office, residential, and retail space. Among its components will be six million square feet (560,000 m2) of commercial office space, a 750,000-square-foot (70,000 m2) retail center with two levels of restaurants, cafes, markets and bars, a hotel, a cultural space, about 5,000 residences, a 750-seat school, and 14 acres (5.7 ha) of public open space. The development, located mainly above and around the West Side Yard, will create a new neighborhood that overlaps with Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen.
- Irish Repertory Theatre – An Off-Broadway theatrical company on West 22nd St producing plays by Irish and Irish-American writers.
- Joyce Theater – Located in the former Elgin Theater at 175 Eighth Avenue, it is in a 1941 revival movie house that was closed by the community after it became a porno theatre. The Elgin was completely renovated to create in the Joyce a venue suitable for dance, and was reopened two years later.
- London Terrace – The apartment complex on West 23rd 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. It was designed by Farrar and Watmough. It takes its name from the fashionable mid-19th century cottages which were once located there.
- New York Live Arts – A dance organization located at 219 West 19th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.
- Penn South – A large limited-equity housing cooperative built by the United Housing Foundation and financed by the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union covering six city blocks, between 8th and 9th Avenue and 23rd and 29th Street.
- Peter McManus Cafe – This bar and restaurant on Seventh Avenue at 19th Street is among the oldest family-owned and -operated bars in the city.
- Pike's Opera House – Built in 1868, and bought the next year by James Fisk and Jay Gould, who renamed it the Grand Opera House. Located on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street, it survived until 1960 as an RKO movie theater.
- Rubin Museum of Art – is a museum dedicated to the collection, display, and preservation of the art of the Himalayas and surrounding regions, especially that of Tibet. It is located at 150 West 17th Street between the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) and Seventh Avenue.
- Starrett-Lehigh Building – This huge full-block freight terminal and warehouse on West 26th Street between Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues was built in 1930-1931 as a joint venture of the Starett real estate firm and the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and was engineered so that trains could pull directly into the ground floor of the building. Designed by Cory & Cory, the industrial behemoth was so architecturally notable that it was included in the Museum of Modern Art's 1932 "International Style" exhibition, one of only a few American buildings to be so honored. It was designated a New York City landmark in 1966.
- The Kitchen – A performance space at 512 West 19th Street; it was founded in Greenwich Village in 1971 by Steina and Woody Vasulka, taking its name from the original location, the kitchen of the Mercer Arts Center.
There are numerous public schools in Chelsea, including Public School 11, also known as the William T. Harris School; P.S. 33, the Chelsea School; the O. Henry School (Intermediate School 70); Liberty High School For Newcomers; Lab School; the Museum School; and the Bayard Rustin Educational Complex, which houses six small schools.
The Bayard Rustin Educational Complex was founded as Textile High School in 1930, later renamed to Straubenmuller Textile High School, then Charles Evans Hughes High School. In the 1990s, it was renamed the Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities after civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. The high school closed in 2012 after a grading scandal, but the building had already started being used as a "vertical campus" housing multiple small schools. Quest to Learn, Hudson High School of Learning Technologies, Humanities Preparatory Academy, James Baldwin School, Landmark High School, and Manhattan Business Academy are the six constituent schools in the complex.
Chelsea is also home to the Fashion Institute of Technology, a specialized SUNY unit that serves as a training ground for the city's fashion and design industries. The School of Visual Arts, a for-profit art school and the public High School of Fashion Industries also have a presence in the design fields.
The neighborhood is also home to the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, the oldest seminary in the Anglican Communion. The Center for Jewish History, a consortium of several national research organizations, is a unified library, exhibition, conference, lecture, and performance venue, located on 17th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
The neighborhood is reachable by the M7, M10, M11, M12, M14, M23 New York City Bus routes. New York City Subway routes include the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line's 1 2 services, the IND Eighth Avenue Line's A C E services, and the IND Sixth Avenue Line's F M services. The 34th Street – Hudson Yards station on the IRT Flushing Line (7 <7> trains) opened in September 2015 with its main entrance in Chelsea.
- Staff (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- These are the boundaries of the historic district, not of the neighborhood. NYCLPC map of Chelsea Historic District
- Regier, Hilda. "Chelsea (i)" in Jackson, Kenneth T. (ed.), (2010) The Encyclopedia of New York City (2nd edition). New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11465-2, pp.234-235
- Fodor's See It New York City, p. 299. Fodor's Travel Publications, 2012. ISBN 9780876371367. Accessed October 20, 2015. "Chelsea... The boundaries stretch from 14th to 30th streets and from Sixth Avenue to the Hudson River."
- Sloane, Leonard. "Kids on Skates and in Buggies Give New Bank a Homey Touch", The New York Times, September 4, 1964. Accessed October 20, 2015. "The Chelsea area of Manhattan, from 14th Street to 34th Street on the West Side, is one of the city's oldest sections."
- Bennetts, Leslie. If You're Thinking of Living In: Chelsea", The New York Times, May 2, 1982. Accessed October 2, 2015. "While definitions of Chelsea vary, most people consider the area to run from 14th Street to 34th Street between Fifth Avenue and the Hudson River."
- Navarro, Mireya. "In Chelsea, a Great Wealth Divide", The New York Times, October 23, 2015. Accessed October 23, 2015. "Today's Chelsea, the swath west of Sixth Avenue between 14th and 34th Streets, could be the poster neighborhood for what Mayor Bill de Blasio calls the tale of two cities."
- Neighborhoods in New York City do not have official status, and their boundaries are not specifically set by the city. (There are a number of Community Boards, whose boundaries are officially set, but these are fairly large and generally contain a number of neighborhoods, and the neighborhood map issued by the Department of City Planning only shows the largest ones.) Because of this, the definition of where neighborhoods begin and end is subject to a variety of forces, including the efforts of real estate concerns to promote certain areas, the use of neighborhood names in media news reports, and the everyday usage of people.
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Postal, Matthew A. (ed. and text); Dolkart, Andrew S. (text). (2009) Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p.70-72
- Janvier, Thomas Allibone (1894). In Old New York. Harper & Brothers. pp. 167–9.
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- Federal Writers' Project. (1939) New York City Guide. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-403-02921-X (Reprinted by Scholarly Press, 1976; often referred to as WPA Guide to New York City), pp. 151-155
- The film On the Waterfront (1954) recreates this tough world, dramatized in Richard Rodgers' 1936 jazz ballet Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.
- Burrows & Wallace, pp.1003-1008
- Hughes, C. J. "Dial C for Condos", The New York Times, March 8, 2012. Accessed October 23, 2015. "One of those Verizon buildings, a 1929 tan-brick Art Deco high-rise at 212 West 18th Street in Chelsea, is being converted into luxury condominiums. The 53-unit project is called Walker Tower for its architect, Ralph Walker, who also designed several other phone company buildings.... Verizon owns Floors 2 through 7, which contain offices for about a dozen employees who will come to work through a West 17th Street entryway. Mr. Stern owns the condo that encompasses Floors 8 through 23."
- Broad, William J. "Why They Called It the Manhattan Project", The New York Times, October 30, 2007. Accessed October 23, 2015. "After lunch, we headed to West 20th Street just off the West Side Highway.... On its north side, three tall buildings once made up the Baker and Williams Warehouses, which held tons of uranium.... Dr. Norris’s 'Traveler’s Guide' fact sheet said the federal government in the late 1980s and early 1990s cleaned the buildings of residual uranium."
- Brazee, Christopher D. and Most, Jennifer L. et al. "West Chelsea Historic District Designation Report" New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (July 15, 2008)
- Calhoun, Ada. "The Chelsea; ‘Inside the Dream Palace,’ by Sherill Tippins", The New York Times, December 6, 2013. Accessed October 23, 2015.
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission "Chelsea Historic District Designation Report" NYCLPC (September 15, 1970)
- Dibble., James E. "Chelsea Historic District Extension Designation Report" New York Landmarks Preservation Commission (February 3, 1981)
- Geberer, Raanan. "The Original, Gilded YMCA", Chelsea News, September 25, 2015. Accessed October 23, 2015. "The opening shots of the official “YMCA” video, however, might confuse some current Chelsea residents. You see a huge sign, 'McBurney YMCA,' but instead of today’s familiar McBurney Y on West 14th Street, you see a different building. The older building, on West 23rd Street between 7th and 8th avenues, is still there, and was the home of the McBurney Y from 1904, when it was built, until 2002, when it moved to 14th Street."
- Holusha, John. "West Chelsea: Ex-Garages Attracting Art Galleries From Soho" New York Times (October 12, 1997)
- "Chelsea Neighborhood Profile". About.com. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
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- "Stylish Traveler: Chelsea Girls", Travel + Leisure, September 2005. Accessed May 14, 2007. "With more than 200 galleries, Chelsea has plenty of variety. Here, eight of them that feature everything from paintings to sculpture, videos to installations."
- "City Planning Begins Public Review for West Chelsea Rezoning to Permit Housing Development and Create Mechanism for Preserving and Creating Access to the High Line", Department of City Planning press release, December 20, 2004. "Some 200 galleries have opened their doors in recent years, making West Chelsea a destination for art lovers from around the City and the world."
- Vecsey, Pete. "Piers Without Peer", p. 63, New York (magazine), December 19, 1994. Accessed May 20, 2016.
- Fry, Andy. "NYC studios can cater for growing production", KFTV, December 17, 2014. Accessed May 20, 2016. "Another Manhattan-based venue, Chelsea Studios was formed in 1914 and hosted some high-profile productions during the 1950s and 1960s (12 Angry Men, The Phil Silvers Show)."
- Church of the Holy Apostles website
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- "Congregation Beth Simchat Torah" on LGBT Religious Archives Network
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- Venue Guide, Hudson River Park. Accessed May 20, 2016.
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- Kisselgoff, Anna (1981-07-26). "Creating A Theater Just for Dance". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-04.
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- Manhattan Bus Map
- Fitzsimmons, Emma G. (2015-09-10). "Subway Station for 7 Line Opens on Far West Side". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chelsea, Manhattan.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Chelsea.|
- Manhattan Community Board 4—The Chelsea & Clinton/Hell's Kitchen Community Board
- Chelsea Click Your Block ChelseaClickYourBlock.com is a blog site for individual residential Chelsea blocks.
- DestinationChelsea.org Local guide to Chelsea's cultural events and neighborhood establishments
- Chelsea Neighborhood Profile - About.com
- ClubFly Chelsea: Gay bars, clubs, and a Google Map
- GayCities New York Guide to Gay Bars & Clubs in Chelsea