Photo: Thomas Rafael

On the west side of Manhattan, just above Greenwich village and south of Hell's Kitchen is the area known as Chelsea. At one time, Chelsea was boarded on the north by elegant gardens, which stood in stark contrast to the working-class areas along the Hudson River beyond 11th Avenue.

Barring the western waterfront area, Chelsea is primarily a residential area, interspersed with restaurants and clothing boutiques. Chelsea has a large gay population, and many of the businesses in the area reflect the fine tastes of its residents. Since the early 1990s, Chelsea has also become a part of the New York Art scene, as galleries moved into the area after being priced out of Soho.

Visitors to the area can enjoy a wide variety of fine shopping - Chelsea's shops are nearly all independent businesses, rather than big-box chain stores. Art galleries specializing in different mediums and styles surround the area, and its population is highly creative. The area is also recognizable to visitors because it has appeared in many movies. The Hotel Chelsea -- a well-known residence for artists, musicians, writers, and other creative types -- is a center of artistic and bohemian life, and it has been shown in many movies. The borders of Chelsea flow naturally into Greenwich Village, and the flavor of the two neighborhoods are similar in their appreciation of the arts and free thinking.

Molly O'Neill