by Sandra Hutchinson
We made a quick visit to our Manhattan-based son last week, and we enjoyed a day and half of walking around and exploring the city’s Chelsea neighborhood and Meatpacking District.
We took Amtrak to NYC from Albany/Rensselaer (a gorgeous ride along the Hudson — make sure to sit on the river side!), arriving in the recently opened Moynihan Train Hall, now the entry point into the city for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains. What a breath of fresh air after the dank, labyrinthian and underground Penn Station terminal.
We had booked a room at the Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel, which is only a few blocks from our son’s apartment in Chelsea. Our son pronounced it “the trendiest neighborhood in the city,” and the room price reflected that. When we checked in, fate must have smiled on us because the desk clerk announced that she was able to upgrade us to a larger room on a higher floor. Why this happened escaped us, but we were very pleasantly surprised when we opened the window shade in our eleventh floor room.
We had a view of the Hudson and also looked down into the rooftop restaurant of the RH flagship store, directly across the street (9th Ave.) from our hotel. We had views of other rooftop bars and restaurants as well. Closer to the river, the tiered building in the upper left, is the new Whitney Museum of American Art.
We got quite a kick out of these bottle of Just Water, priced at “just $7.” Since Just Water is sourced from same reservoir system as our tap water in our hometown of Glens Falls, NY, we wished we had brought water from home!
After we checked our the view from our room, we headed to our hotel’s own rooftop, where there’s a pool and two bars. We found some seating under a canopy on the roof and ordered drinks, now able to see to the north of us, spotting many more rooftop gardens. We also had a good view of the building in the redeveloped area known as Hudson Yards, where there’s a projecting deck on the 100th floor, known as the Edge. Visitors pay about $40 to go up and walk out on the projection. It’s billed as the “highest sky deck in the Western Hemisphere.”
After enjoying the views, we headed over to SoHo, to visit our son at his media startup, RocaNews. This was the day of a gathering to welcome the company’s college interns, and we were able to meet the students and the members of the regular Roca team we didn’t already know. I had my first White Claw hard seltzer!
The day was capped off with a great Palestinian-inspired dinner with the Roca gang at Qanoon, at 9th and 21st.
The next morning, being an early riser, I headed out from our hotel to explore the Chelsea Market, just a block and a half away, hoping to find some coffee. We had been to Chelsea Market in the late 1990s, not long after this former Nabisco Biscuit Company (Nabisco) factory had been redeveloped into a complex of restaurants, shops, offices and television production facilities. (It is said that the Oreo cookie was invented and produced here.) It is now owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, which has offices nearby. It also borders the High Line (more on that later). Our kids had been especially interested in the building years ago because the sports-focused Dan Patrick show, with his supporting cast of Danettes, used to broadcast from the building.
It was pretty quiet inside Chelsea Market early in the morning. Friedmans Lunch was not yet open, but bakers were at work inside Sarabeth’s.
Later we met our son for brunch at the Chelsea location of Jack Wife’s Freda, on 8th and 16th. This busy all-day cafe has four NYC locations, and two in Tokyo. Interesting, varied menu, with breakfast available all day. Two of us had the green shakshuka, with green tomatillo sauce and challah toast.
Fortified by our brunch, we headed a few blocks west toward the High Line, the nearly 1 1/2 mile-long linear, elevated park and walking path, created on a former railroad spur. Every time we’ve walked on the path it has been crowded, and this beautiful early June Friday was no exception. But we love the views of the river, the still-in use rail yards at the north end, and the extensive plantings along the path, with many benches for sitting.
We entered the High Line just north of the Chelsea Market, and walked to the north end, taking a gander at the structure named the “Vessel,” now closed to the public, presumably for safety issues, and we peered down into the rail yards where trains were coming and going. We checked out the lower levels of 30 Hudson Yards, the building where visitors access the Edge viewing platform (see image above, approaching the building on the High Line). It’s filled with high-end shops and some more moderate shops, like Uniqlo, the Japanese clothing brand, that I became familiar with when visiting my older son in Los Angeles.
We then headed back south on the High Line, and veered off the walking path to check out Little Island, a newly created manmade public park that literally sits on the Hudson River. Opened in May, 2021, and a part of the Hudson River Park, Little Island is built on a series of concrete piers and has winding pathways, great views (especially of lower Manhattan), and an outdoor amphitheater. There’s lots of green lawn space and plantings.
After leaving Little Island, we ventured further south to the Whitney Museum of American Art, at the location it has occupied at 99 Gansevoort St. since 2015 (after moving from the Upper East Side). Founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942), the museum focuses on 20th and 21st century American art. this painting of the museum’s founder was done by Robert Henri, in 1916.
We decided to start our visit on the top floor of the museum, where we stopped in the cafe for a refreshment and enjoyed the views from the terrace of Little Island and the meatpacking district.
Our favorite part of the museum was the gallery with the Edward Hoppers. Below are Early Sunday Morning, 1930, and Seven A.M., 1948.
We are also fans of George Bellows and found one of his great boxing works, Dempsey and Firpo, 1924.
A lot of the art on the lower floors wasn’t totally in my wheel house, but to each his own.
Of course anyone who grew up in the sixties can appreciate this painting, below, titled Madonna and Child, by Allan D’Arcangelo, 1963.
The finale to our quick NYC getaway was meeting our son in the West Village for dinner at Boucherie. I can recommend the escargots.
If you go: Be aware that many venues require you to purchase timed entry tickets in advance. The High Line and Little Island require timed tickets at certain times. Please check the web sites for locations before you go, to avoid disappointment. And it should go without saying that dining reservations are a must!