With its broad metal awnings shading the sidewalks, eclectic mix of architecture, and Belgian block streets and plazas, the Meatpacking District is one of Downtown Manhattan’s most unique and memorable neighborhoods. Bordered by the West Village, Chelsea to the North, and the mighty Hudson River to the West, Meatpacking today is a dynamic hub of fashion, technology, culture, and dining, enriched by history and embracing of change.
First serving as a fishing and trading post for the Lenape people, Meatpacking began to develop as an urban neighborhood in the 1840s with a mix of commercial and residential buildings growing up on the angled streets (the 18th century street grid meets the more regular 1811 street grid in the District). In the 1880s, open-air and enclosed markets made the neighborhood the city’s premier destination for produce, poultry, fish, and meat, as well as a variety of other industries. By the early twentieth century, the neighborhood became a center for industrialized meatpacking and distribution.
As trucking, the highway system, and supermarkets began to change distribution and shopping habits, many of the old market and cold storage buildings began to be converted to new uses. By the 1990s, the neighborhood had become synonymous with fashion, hip downtown nightclubs and restaurants, and emerging creative industries.
Today, much of the neighborhood is a protected landmarked district, ensuring the survival of the area’s distinct urban fabric. These old buildings now house a number of leading technology companies, and the neighborhood’s abandoned elevated railroad line has been reborn as a world renowned urban park, the High Line. With the Whitney Museum of American Art calling the Meatpacking District home, it’s never been a better time to visit this neighborhood where new and old come together to form a dynamic, and distinctly New York, experience.
Gansevoort Market Historic District: State and National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (2007).
Gansevoort Market Historic District: Designation Report. New York Landmarks Preservation Commission (2003).
The High Line website
Off the Grid. Village Preservation blog.