The NYC High Line. Photo via NYC Parks
Since 2009, people have hailed the High Line as the savior of declining west Chelsea, a neighborhood that is now a burgeoning food and art gallery hub of New York City. Lying fallow for years as an abandoned infrastructural element above Chelsea’s streets and storefronts after being used by freight trains for twenty years, it became an overgrown meadow, an unusual sight in the city, and many talked of demolishing it for good.
Thankfully, efforts by the community and various organizations like the nonprofit Friends of the High Line campaigned for its renovation in the late 1990s. After years of planning and construction, the elevated railroad became an elevated park, attracted millions to its picturesque views, and revitalized the entire neighborhood’s economy and real estate. The High Line is an old-fashioned American success, and though its current form is one of the newest attractions in the city, it still has its fair share of secrets.
Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon in the Inn at Irving Place Image via Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon
Afternoon tea emerged sometime between the 1830’s and 1840’s. So says the book “A Social History of Tea” by Jane Pettigrew, the well–known tea historian. Since lunch was light, and dinner no earlier than 7:30 pm, it was that pleasant bit of sustenance in mid–day. Called “Low Tea” because of the low chairs and tables, the offerings have not changed much over time, consisting of crustless finger sandwiches, scones, cakes, and other nibbles, in addition to a full complement of teas. It was very much a part of the fabric of the time, and has lasted, in various forms and in many Countries, through today.
Generally beginning sometime after 3 pm, Afternoon Tea in New York City runs the gamut, from the formal to the funky. Some with a bit of an ethnic twist and some designed specifically for kids. Some require sophisticated casual attire and others are just plain casual. Held in hotels and restaurants, they conjure up images of days gone by. But in fact, it is a wonderful break in our modern-day life, when friends can meet without the time and commitment of dinner, or without the noise you might find having a drink in a bar. It is a time and place where the frenetic urban air is left at the door. We’ve picked out twenty–five places, in no particular order, for you to have your Afternoon Tea, and hope you will add to our list with your favorites.
Gwyneth Paltrow by Martin Johanna. Image via news.artnet
40,000 fans have already RSVP’d to the Facebook event for a two day show called Bad Dads VI, featuring the works of 75 artists inspired by the films of Wes Anderson at the Joseph Gross Gallery in Chelsea.
The show, which has appeared annually for the past five years at the Spoke Art Gallery in San Francisco, is moving to the east coast for the first time in honor of Anderson’s career that was kickstarted by his first real success, “The Royal Tenenbaums,” set in New York City.
Tucked right in Chelsea overshadowed by tall buildings is the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue Cemetery, a sudden green respite on 21st Street fronted by wrought iron gates (and now a Citi Bike station as well). Its official name is the Third Cemetery of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue because the cemetery of the religious organization had to move four times since the founding of the religious organization, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, in 1654.
Image via medium.com
Neighborhood names evoke a specific sense of place.
The best names connect places to their geography and history, and emphasize the qualities that make a place unique. This is especially important now, when bland, placeless design is making many cities feel homogenous.
In most cities, neighborhood boundaries are generally not well-defined, and neighborhood names change over the years as people try to change the associations around places. Just looking at New York City: native place names gave way to Dutch names, which in turn became English names. And historic names gave way to names created and promoted by real estate developers and urban planners.
There are three reasons why neighborhood names change. To distance themselves from a troubled past, to be associated with a more desirable area, or to establish a grandiose vision for an area.
Chelsea Piers was once one of New York’s busiest shipping centers at the turn of the 20th century. Not only a popular docking point for passenger ships but a commercial center for travelers and foreigners who docked there throughout its history, the place, opened in 1910, was the city’s first port, a culmination of 30 years of discussions and 8 years of construction. On its opening day, the liner Oceanic sailed through a colored ribbon, marking the official opening. Today, several of the piers remain in operation, though one, Pier 54, remains sadly inactive, though plans to rebuild it completely are still being negotiated.