Visiting NYC Series #1: Spotlight On The Chelsea Neighborhood


I always loved the idea of living in New York City without the hassle of a job, just being a city traveler navigating this urban jungle of cement, steel, glass and its many famous landmarks. Over the years, I have been enamored with how the Chelsea neighborhood has become this vibrant and evolving community, a veritable melting pot of everything I love about city life. For too many years, I have been a suburbanite. A six-week stay in the center of Chelsea, 2 blocks from the High Line is a dream come true. Here is what I have experienced just in my first two weeks…..

First A Bit of History…..

The Chelsea neighborhood area was once occupied mainly by Irish immigrants in response to the city’s industrialization, which led to building an elevated freight rail line delivering goods to the Hudson River to ship out. After the war, industrialization began to decline, the area soon became home to many other immigrants, artists, the affluent and the LGBTQ community. It has experienced its fair share of gentrification with the growth of luxury high-rise condos, swanky restaurants, and cafes, lots of art galleries and retail shopping. The repurposing of the abandoned elevated freight rail line into a public park in the sky started in 2006, extending it to 1.45-mile-long greenway known as the High Line. The High Line is an important tourist attraction for the city that includes the re-development of Hudson Yards.

First Two Weeks in Chelsea

An Airbnb in this area is not cheap, especially if you are determined to live in the center of it all. Location is what you are paying for. Once I found a place and settled in, I ventured out to take in this city urban vibe. I am several blocks away from the Chelsea Marketplace for food and drinks, the Apple store for classes and the Starbuck Reserve Roastery; all terrific places to hangout in. It’s been a wonderful treat.

Here is what I learned and loved so far:

The Chelsea neighborhood is truly a composite of every type of housing. It has luxury towering condos and rentals, some across the street from public housing, rent-controlled apartments, renovated (and not so renovated) townhouses and brownstones. Nothing like New Jersey, where politicians and residents tend to resist affordable housing in affluent communities.

There are modern glass steel towers next to prewar buildings, and industrial lofts as well as tree line streets with beautiful brownstones. The commercial is massive and is woven into the residential life of this community. My apartment building is between two storefronts where one can easily miss the door.

Although the area caters to the affluent, they are not the only ones that live here. Walking the streets, you witness every racial, ethnic and income group going about their business in what is considered a relatively safe environment. Beware, there is no safe place anywhere. Regardless, always have your guard up.

Part of my daily routine is walking the entire High Line preferably early in the morning when it is not so crowded. Besides going to museums, galleries, meeting up with friends, I also spend time observing people and photographing the streets.

Here are some unique characteristics among the city dwellers from someone who has lived too long in the suburbs.

1. The number of people wearing EarPods walking, running or talking is pervasive. Apple EarPods seem to be the preferred choice.

2. Dogs are plentiful, being walked at all hours of the day, although there seems to be a preference for the Portuguese poodle types.

3. The smell of weed is everywhere you go, including the hallway of my apartment building.

4. No one smiles or said hello, unless it’s a doorman or security personnel. Unless, you are at the High Line where most likely it’s a tourist smiling at you.

5. The noise level from trucks, cars, ambulances, and construction workers is significant, and maybe that’s why there are so many people wearing EarPods.

6. Lots and lots of tattoos, equally among male and female, of every color, type and in just about every part of exposed bodies.

7. There is the smell of sewage and of garbage as you walk through many of the streets especially on garbage collection day but there are also plenty of outdoor dining that offers pleasant smells.

8. There are homeless everywhere but not as many as I expected in this neighborhood.

My street photography consists of all aspects of city life, from its architecture to the High Line, its people, including the city’s iconic water towers. More later on the High Line and other neighborhoods I planned to visit during my stay here. CLICK HERE to view photos and remember to click the center of the photos for a full view. Can’t say I miss living in the suburbs.

“For more stories and photos like these, please click here to subscribe!

14 street, 23rd street station stop, Apple store, art, art galleries, art lofts, brownstones, Chelsea, chelsea fleamarket, chelsea marketplace, Dos caminos, Google headquarters, Hudson River, Hudson Yards, lgbtq, little island, NYC, nyc architecture, nyc neighborhoods, the HighLine, the Spur, WhitneyMuseum

AUGUST 6, 2023



Grizel Ubarry,

My blog seeks to inspire its readers through travel, art, and personal growth by reinventing oneself and becoming a global citizen.