BeMiDo

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From about 34th Street all the way down to 14th Street are a collection of neighborhoods that just plain don't count themselves among either Lower Manhattan or Midtown. New Yorkers typically refer to them by their regular names. Since we need a name to give this page, we'll dub the area BEtween MIdtown and DOwntown BeMiDo. 

Contents

Neighborhoods Between Midtown and Downtown (BeMiDo)

Kips Bay

Location: E23-34 and the river to 3rd

This little neighborhood is an odd little place. Too south to be Midtown and too north to be Downtown, it doesn’t quite fit in anywhere and that theme carries over. Kips Bay is a hodgepodge of the old and the new. There are new high-rise condos overlooking the East River and there is even a tacky strip mall that managed to get slipped through the cracks preventing such architectural eyesores in the city. At the same time, Kips Bay has within it the last known unpaved street in the city called Broadway Alley. No one knows how the name came to be or why it is unpaved, but it’s there just the same. It also has one of the few remaining houses in Manhattan sandwiched in between brownstones, pre-war brick apartment buildings and row houses. Why has it survived fires and countless attempts to rezone the area? No one knows. It stands there just the same. Kips is definitely an enigmatic place aside from the aforementioned oddities, it is a quiet neighborhood with a diverse mix of working class and professional New Yorkers not any different from other districts of New York City.

NoMad

Location: W25-30 and Lex to 6th

Refers to the neighborhood just on the north end of Madison Square. When the square and the park within it were restored, the neighborhoods around it also benefited from the renewal. NoMad was transformed from a bleak and bland neighborhood full of t-shirt, luggage, perfume and jewelry wholesalers, to a neighborhood with chic and unique shops and trendy restaurants and nightspots. Now the area is filled with restored historical buildings which are attractive to upscale businesses and residences. The wholesalers still dominate stretches of Broadway, but they are no longer the prevalent business in the area. This area of Broadway and the adjoining side streets is known as “Curry Hill” or Little India for the predominance of Indian owned stores and restaurants.

Chat Rooms: Madison Square

Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town

Location: E20-23 and C to 1st; E14-20 and C to 1st

An unusual and large development uncharacteristic of Manhattan are the neighborhoods of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. They were the first large scale post-war residential development projects after WWII and designed as a method of slum clearance in a public-private partnership with insurance giant MetLife. The apartment towers are architecturally non-descript brick buildings with few embellishments. They surround grounds which have pathways and some land set aside for parks and squares, but there are no facilities in either of the two sprawling complexes for shopping or dining. Both developments have their own public safety force, most of whom are sworn peace officers. While they are not permitted to carry firearms, they do carry batons, pepper spray, and handcuffs. As peace officers, they have full law enforcement powers, and they patrol the property in specialized vehicles. As of late March 2009, security cameras have been installed and activated in all Stuyvesant Town buildings. In addition, sensors have been installed on the roof doors to prevent unauthorized access. The requirement of photo ID card-keys was introduced in 2008. The parking garages along Avenue C, 20th Street and 14th Street have also implemented a key-card access system and installed security cameras.

{{Stuyvesant Town BeMiDo NYC.jpg}}

Chelsea

Location: W14-34 and 7th to the river

Bordered by the Meatpacking District, Flatiron District, the Garment District, and the West Village – Chelsea is perhaps one of the hottest and most fashionable districts in New York City to call home. During the 1990s, rising rents in SoHo prompted an exodus of artists from that neighborhood into more affordable Chelsea. The result for Chelsea was a huge transformation from a bleak semi-industrial district with neglected residential space, to the premier art destination in the city. Chelsea has no fewer than 350 art galleries that are home to modern art from upcoming artists and respected artists as well which line 16th Street to 27th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. The area is diverse, retaining much of its immigrant roots from its days as an industrial center and combining it with other subcultures like the gay community which has a strong presence in the neighborhood. In fact, Eighth Avenue is a center for LGBT-oriented shopping and dining. The much of the existing architecture has been restored and so the streets are lined with pre-war townhomes (much of whom have been converted back to single family use), row houses, converted lofts, brownstones, and apartment buildings. True to the avant-garde artists in the area, even the old elevated train tracks have been converted into High Line Park which is a unique greenway built on the train tracks offering views of the city and the neighborhood below. Ethnic restaurants, delis and clothing boutiques are plentiful. Tekserve, a vast Apple computer repair shop, serves nearby Silicon Alley and the area's large creative community. Chelsea has become an alternative shopping destination with Barneys CO-OP - which replaced the much larger original Barneys flagship store - Comme des Garçons, and Balenciaga boutiques, as well as being near Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Christian Louboutin. Chelsea Market, on the ground floor of the former Nabisco Building, is a destination for food lovers.

Flatiron District

Location: E&W16-27 and Park Ave South to 6th

The neighborhood gets its name for the Flatiron Building at its center. The distinctive structure is in the shape of an extreme triangle and is one of the oldest skyscrapers in the city. The area had been known as the Toy District, but as manufacturers moved to Asia, many of the buildings fell out of use and decayed. With rents dropping, the neighborhood attracted photographers seeking cheaper studio and gallery space. Then the city relaxed zoning laws in the area to allow for more residential space. Properties were renovated and repackaged from the Toy District to the Flatiron District by real estate investors. Soon other businesses (particularly in the high-tech industries) and residential towers arrived, transforming this largely industrial area into a mix of residential and office space. With the renovation of nearby Madison Square, retail shops, restaurants, and cafés have opened, leading to a complete revival of the area.

Chat Rooms: The Limelight

Gramercy Park

Location: E14-23 and 1st to Park Avenue So

Refers to a historic district of Manhattan which surrounds one of two private parks in New York City. The neighborhood is largely preserved from its original development in the mid-1800s and has been described as “a Victorian gentleman who has refused to die”. The park was intended to be a private garden for those residents which skirted the edges of it. The park itself is gated and accessible to residents of the area for a fee of $3500. An assortment of restaurants, bars, and establishments line Irving Place, the main thoroughfare of the neighborhood south of the park. Pete's Tavern, perhaps one of New York's oldest surviving saloons, survived Prohibition disguised as a flower shop. Irving Plaza, on East 15th Street and Irving, hosts numerous concerts for both well-known and indie bands and draws a crowd almost every night. There are also a number of clinics and official city buildings on Irving Place. The quiet streets perpendicular to Irving Place have maintained their status as fashionable residential blocks reminiscent of London's West End.

Union Square

Location: E14-17 and 4th to University Pl

Situated strategically between Midtown and Downtown, Union Square has historically been a natural gathering place for New Yorkers. It’s a transportation hub with many of the city’s subway lines converging underneath the city square. This has made it a favored spot for social activism and protests of all types as well as the normal community activities one would find in New York parks and squares. As far back as the Civil War it’s been the site of rallies and vigils. Most recently it was the major site of vigils after the attacks on 9/11. Another notable consequence of the square and its location was that it was the root where growing interest in green took hold in the city as early as 1976. Local growers brought fresh produce to the square in the first farmer’s market then and it’s grown into a city wide enterprise of sustainable, local, fresh and healthy food. Union Square holds the Union Square Greenmarket Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays between 8 AM and 6 PM year round. Because of its central location, the buildings along the square’s fringes have attracted a fashionable mix of retailers, bistros, coffee houses, nightspots, and restaurants. The square itself is centered by a statue of George Washington and a historic pavilion that houses a permanent restaurant that serves soups, salads and sandwiches.

Meatpacking District

Location: Gansevoort to W15th and Hudson to the river

Is a district in Manhattan that was once dominated by slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants. As manufacturing declined in New York City over the years, so too did this industrial neighborhood. Factories closed. Buildings decayed. In the 1990s as Times Square was being cleaned up, prostitutes moved from Midtown to the Meatpacking District to vie for johns among the transsexual hookers that were already displaying their wares on the cobblestone streets. It became a haven for both the gay and straight BDSM sub-culture as a number of night clubs opened in the area, taking the opportunity to make use of cheap vacant factory space and converting them into nightspots. Eventually historic societies partnered with the few remaining meatpacking businesses to try and preserve the historical buildings and ensure that at least some of the district’s original purpose was left intact. Fortunately, their combined efforts succeeded in thwarting the attempts of developers from cramming the area full of modern high-rises. Though still a haven for the illicit sex trade, the district also has drawn the attention of other businesses and developers to the area. Some of the existing vacant meatpacking plants and slaughterhouses have been converted into trendy residential loft space while the street level and basements house retailers, chic restaurants and other nightclub venues. The district’s proximity to Chelsea and the development of the High Line Park line extending into the area has made the Meatpacking District into an up and coming neighborhood that has finally arrived.

Chat Rooms: Whistler's Alley

Related Pages

Chat Room Index, Manhattan Neighborhoods Map

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