Recently I went on a business trip to New York City. My manager, a New York native, recommended the Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District. Now let’s be honest—if you’ve never heard of this neighborhood, you might naturally be inclined to wonder why on earth anyone would want to stay in a meatpacking district. It doesn’t sound very sexy. On the contrary though, this ultra chic neighborhood, which runs roughly from West 14th Street south to Gansevoort Street, and from the Hudson River east to Hudson Street, just might very well be one of the most glamorous, upscale boroughs in all of Manhattan. Just watch a few episodes of Sex and the City, and you’ll have all the confirmation you need.
Transformation: From Animal Meat to Alexander McQueen
Like the name suggests, the Meatpacking District was once exactly that. In 1900, 250 slaughterhouses and packing plants lined its streets. Innovations in distribution helped catapult business to the Meatpacking District, and by the 1930s, it was pumping out the nation’s third-largest volume of dressed meats. Eventually, the glory began to sink as newer, better, and cheaper methods of distribution came into play. As the industry declined in the area, prostitutes and drugs invaded the empty warehouses, transforming the district’s character into something comparable to Sin City.
Fortunately, some were able to see beyond the murky hole the area had sunk itself into. Potential realized, the Meatpacking District went through an intense revitalization, transforming itself into the posh neighborhood lined with expensive restaurants, boutiques, bars and hotels we see today. High-end designers including Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, and longtime neighborhood resident Diane von Furstenberg, transformed former packing plants into chic boutiques. The High Line, the district’s railroad system that was discontinued in 1980, was revived and converted into a park in 2009. The old cobblestone streets managed to survive the transition, allowing the Meatpacking District to retain a bit of its historic charm.
There is always something going on in this place! Foodies, fashionistas, and nightlife lovers: beware. If you visit, you might be tempted to sell a kidney in order to make this area your new, permanent home. Here are some of my recommendations based on what I experienced during my own trip.
EAT: Budakkan (best lobster I’ve ever had), Spice Market (Southeast Asian family-style dining restaurant where the food just doesn’t ever seem to stop coming to you), Old Homestead Steakhouse (this place has managed to stay open since 1868—need I say more?), and Bill’s Bar & Burger (mouth-watering burgers and milkshakes for a refreshingly low price)
DRINK: The Standard Biergarten (for the beer-lovers), Tortilla Flats (some go for the Mexican food, others for the strong margaritas), Brass Monkey (go to the rooftop if the weather is nice), Le Bain (The Standard’s rooftop bar boasting an amazing view and buzzing atmosphere), and Plunge Bar (Gansevoort’s stylish rooftop bar with a stunning 360-degree view of NYC’s skyline)
WALK: The High Line – Experience NYC in a unique way! This flourishing public park built along an old freight rail line will make you forget why the city was nicknamed Concrete Jungle.