The weather finally broke and it was goreous today. It was a crazy morning before I left for the City and I got in early before I had to work at the Soup Kitchen. The numbers keep growing and we are getting busier and busier. We are now packing a thousand bags of food for the growing number of people visiting Holy Apostles.
I needed some extra energy before I got to the church and decided to stop at 9th Avenue Grocery, a tiny deli a block from the church for a Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich. I must have passed this place a hundred times over the last twenty years but never stopped in. With all the construction going on in the neighborhood, I have noticed more signs outside for the deli with their specials to bring these guys in.
9th Avenue Grocery at 350 Ninth Avenue
I have to tell you the Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a soft roll ($4.50) was not only was reasonable but delicious. The roll was so fresh and chewy but they gave you a nice portion of eggs to bacon which must have been two or three per order. What I liked about their menu was that almost all their hot foods were under $10.00.
The Bacon, Egg and Cheese at 9th Avenue Grocery is worth the trip dodging construction workers
When I finished breakfast, it was time to go to work and we spent the rest of the morning packing food bags to go with the hot food lunch we were serving that morning. We worked in coordination and packed 800 bags this morning so that the Monday staff had something to work with that day. Five of us got this done in two and a half hours.
After we finished, it was time to to explore the Streets of the Chelsea neighborhood. I lucked out and it was a beautiful sunny afternoon with blue skys and about 82 degrees. That’s when these walks are fun.
I have to tell you that this, Chelsea in this section of the neighborhood is a juxtapose of different styles of architecture and reflects how the area is reinventing itself from an old shipping and receiving/distribution business to the modern-day tech companies. Not only has there been a reuse of these buildings, but the historical brick townhouses have been brought back to their glory with extensive renovations. With every block it just keeps changing with a new business filling the stores that once had ‘For Rent’ signs.
I walked around the block from Holy Apostles Church to start the walk from Twelve Avenue and then continued down West 27th Street. You are going to find that most of the buildings between Twelfth and Tenth Avenues which were probably once garages and car washes have now been refitted into art galleries. You can see the art peering out from the glass windows. You will also notice that it is one of the few streets in the City with cobblestones. It is rare to see this anymore.
The cobblestone streets of West 27th Street off Twelve Avenue
From Tenth to Ninth Avenues, you pass Chelsea Park, which looked like it was busy on the soccer field with a gym class from the Avenues World School on one side, the kids screaming and yelling all over the playground equipment from P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep and the homeless who just finished their lunch from Holy Apostles lying around the benches in the middle of the park. It is never a dull moment in that park and it has become very much alive with the warmer weather and probably the anticipation of school ending.
For security reasons, you will have to walk around the Penn South Complex down West 26th Street and around to reach Ninth Avenue and the entrance to the Fashion Institute of Technology campus at West 27th Street.
“Untitled” by Ami Shamir (Hue Magazine)
The campus was really quiet as summer classes were probably going on right now. I noticed tucked in front of the Dubinsky Building is the sculpture “Untitled” by artist Ami Shamir. This work appears to represent a figure group of fashion industry-related tools (Hue Magazine). The piece dates back to the 1970’s.
Artist Ami Shamir
Ami Shamir is an Israeli American born artist was a noted sculpture and stained-glass artist whose works were related to Jewish themes and the Holocaust. The work was part of the Public Art Movement of its time (Hue Magazine).
The Museum at FIT at 227 West 27th Street
On the corner of West 27th Street and Seventh Avenue is the Museum of FIT at 227 West 27th Street. This wonderful and unique museum showcases the clothing, shoes and accessories of the Fashion Institute of Technology collection. I stopped in earlier to see the new exhibition “Dior + Balenciaga-Kings of Couture and their Legacies” which was the current show.
The “Dior + Balenciaga: Kings of Couture and their Legacies” show
The show compares and contrasts both designers both on how their work was perceived and how it compares to the fashion represented in their ‘Houses’ today. The museum does a wonderful job mounting a show and it should not be missed. It is also open free to the public.
When you arrive at the corner of campus at Sixth Avenue, you are greeted by one of the most iconic sculptures in the City, The ‘Eye of Fashion’ by artist Robert Cornbach. This was designed by the artist in 1976 and just returned to the campus after a major renovation.
“The Eye of Fashion” by artist Robert Cornbach
Robert Cornbach was an American born artist from St. Louis, who was educated at the St. Louis Academy of Fine Arts and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He was known for his large abstract artworks that includes sculptures and fountains (NYTimes.com/Obituary). He also created works for the WPA for the Government’s Federal Art Project (Wiki).
Artist Robert Cornbach
When you cross Seventh towards Sixth Avenue, you see the last traces of the old Garment/Wholesale District with many of those old wholesale businesses being replaced by trendy stores and hotels. The area is shared with the very desirable NoMAD (North of Madison Park) neighborhood that is slowly expanding to this neighborhood. Reaching Sixth Avenue, it was like revisiting an old friend since I had not visited NoMAD/Koreatown in a few months.
109 West 27th Street (Loopnet.com)
As you are walking back down the street, you will notice the beauty of 109 West 27th Street amongst the smaller buildings in the old Wholesale District. Some relators will say this is NoMAD and some will say the Garment District. The building was built in 1908 and you really have to look at the upper floors to see the detailed stone carvings and embellishments that adorn the buildings.
On the walk back, you will start to notice this transition with all the empty ‘For Rent’ signs on the buildings. COVID really affected this part of the neighborhood and just accelerated the gentrification. Just be sure that when you are walking back through Chelsea Park, it is at school time and not after dark. The park can get a little seedy at twilight. Also take time to look at the nice vegetable garden the kids at PS 33 planted behind the school. They did a good job.
I found this cute production of “Singing in the Rain” that the students of P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep performed
As you are walking back towards Twelvth Avenue, you will be greeted by the most unusual women faces and creatures the move and swirl. These are the works of artist Jordan Betten that line the door fronts of the building facing West 27th Street.
Artist Jordan Betten’s artwork on West 27th Street entitled “Sleep No More” is located on the south side of the street
Jordan Betten artist
Artist Jordan Bennen is a Miami based American born artist who works include painting, sculpture and design. With unique application and use of colors, his art captures a feeling of freedom and strength. He shows his love of the streets with sophistication and modernism (Artist Bio).
Video on artist Jordan Betten’s work
West 26th Street has a similar feel for the first two blocks as well with many of the building housing art galleries. A crew was filming a movie, so I had to move around the street as I was walking through it and there is a lot of construction on the street with renovations of these old buildings so be careful.
When crossing the street at Tenth Avenue, you will be walking through the middle of the Chelsea-Elliott Houses so please be aware of who is around you. My advice is to walk through this area when either school is out for a break or just after school. It can get a little shady in the early evenings. Some of the residents will really look you over if they feel you don’t belong, and this is on the sidewalk that rims the complex.
The Elliott-Chelsea Houses on Tenth Avenue
Still there are a few bright points when you walk through the projects. Senoria Pastilito, a woman who sells freshly fried chicken and beef pastilitos, a Dominican empanada and icy sodas. This little stand is open around the time school lets out. Do not miss these delicious pastilitos, filled with chopped and well spiced meats that she fries fresh in front of you. I ate them right by the little park where her stand is located, and she is busy when school lets out.
Also, tucked into the side of the building is a beautiful flower garden where dozens a of red rose bushes were in bloom, and someone planted flower beds between the building and the sidewalk. It just shows that there are people in public housing that really do care about their homes and take pride in its appearance.
Changes in the neighborhood
Further down the road towards the southern part of the Fashion Institute of Technology campus is the studio for the Wendy Williams Show, where my best friend, Maricel and I attended the show back in March. The theater is at 221 West 26th Street and when I passed it I could not believe so much time had gone by. The worst part is I heard on the Internet that the show is closing after 13 seasons.
Day Two Hundred and Twenty-Two: Going to the Wendy Williams Show:
My best friend Maricel and I at the ‘Wendy Williams Show’
As you travel to the other side of Seventh Avenue, you will see the constant change over of the neighborhood from the old Garment District to the fashionable NoMAD with small restaurants and shops tucked into former wholesale shops. COVID closed a lot of the older businesses that used to be on the block.
West 25th Street is very similar to the other blocks with lots of art galleries on the first two blocks from Twelve to Tenth Avenues taking space that was formerly used for shipping or car repair. When you crossover to Seventh Avenue, I was bummed to see that Milanes at 168 West 25th Street closed for business. That’s where Maricel and I ate after attending the Wendy Williams Show and I ate when I was in the neighborhood. It was funny in that it was always busy when I ate there.
Milanes at 168 West 25th Street closed for business in June 2022
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:
The COVID economy takes another victim. Its too bad as this restaurant had quite the following. Their business seems to be have been taken up by Johny’s Lunchonette at 124 West 25th Street, a small lunch counter business a few doors down.
Johny’s Grill and Lunchonette at 124 West 25th Street
Reviews on TripAdvisor:
This looks like another winner that I will have to try in the future.
On the way back from Sixth Avenue and tucked into the southern part of the Penn South complex is the Jeff Dulleau Generational Garden at 365 West 25th Street just before your get to Ninth Avenue. This tiny garden was locked but in full bloom with vegetable beds and wild flowers growing all over garden. Mr. Dulleau had been a founding member of the Green Guerillas.
The Jeff Dulleau Intergenerational Garden at 365 West 25th Street
The ‘Green Guerillas’ are a group that uses education, organizing and advocacy to to help people cultivate community gardens, sustain grassroots groups, grow food, engage youth and address critical issues of food justice and urban agriculture (Green Guerillas).
When turned the corner and started my walk down West 24th Street from Twelveth Avenue, I noticed all the former shipping buildings have all been converted to art galleries. Each building had its own look with the artwork shining from the large glass windows where you can peer in.
When you reach Tenth Avenue, you reach the historical district of the neighborhood which lines Tenth Avenue from West 25th to West 24th and the from Tenth to Ninth Avenues. These blocks are lined with late 19th century townhouses with detailed grillwork and small front gardens. This is one of the nicest sections of the neighborhood to walk.
On the corner of Tenth Avenue and West 24th Street is Orchard Townhouse, a small restaurant and inn. Talk about quaint. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor dining with a small garden that flows to the sidewalk. It has that historic ‘inn’ look about it and an interesting menu for lunch. A mostly American and Continental menu and something to try in the future.
The Orchard Townhouse at twilight (Orchard Townhouse) at 242 Tenth Avenue at West 24th Street
Reviews on TripAdvisor:
The courtyard of the Orchard Townhouse (Orchard Townhouse)
This historic district extends from the southern side of West 25th Street and the northern side of West 24th and offers a glimpse at early 1880-90’s architecture at its finest. Back then, this was meant to be upper class housing but ended up being for a middle class resident. Today, you can’t buy one of these townhouses for under two million dollars. It would be interesting to know the builders perspective on that a hundred and thirty years later.
West 24th Street offers a juxtaposed mix of architectural designs of buildings depending on the block. From Twelveth Avenue to Tenth Avenue it is a combination of old shipping and garage buidings that have now been converted like the rest of the neighborhood into art galleries, the historic district stretches from Tenth to Ninth Avenues and from Ninth to Sixth Avenues there is a mixture of the old residential district mixed into the commercial district that it has become.
Here and there small brick townhouses mix in with larger commercial businesses that themselves have transformed from manufacturing to digital and tech companies and a growing number of restaurants. Businesses are closing and opening all over the street but it does look like the worst of the COVID problems are behind us (for now).
One stand out was the Fashion Industries High School at 225 West 24th Street where the windows were decorated with the students fashion ideas and I was figuring their final projects of the semester. They had some interesting looks pictured in the windows.
Fashion Industries High School at 225 West 24th Street
The one thing that did stick out at the very edge of the neighborhood on the wall of The Corner Cafe at the corner of 729 Sixth Avenue was the New York City painting by artist Dirt Cobain.
The New York City street art by artist Dirt Cobain on the side of The Corner Cafe at 729 Sixth Avenue
Artist Dirt Cobian
Artist Dirt Cobian is an American born artist who started started with a spray can when he was a teenager. He creates the most interesting and eye opening street art. He currently lives in Brooklyn (Artist bio).
A video on who the artist is and what he represents.
I finished the walk back at Twelve Avenue admiring the art from the windows of the galleries and then relaxed in Hudson River Park and admired the view across the river. New Jersey looks very different on this side of the Hudson River. More intriguing.
I finished the afternoon with lunch at the Grand Sichuan Restaurant at 229 Ninth Avenue. I had passed the restaurant many times when walking around the neighborhood and they have some interesting (and very reasonable) lunch specials that I wanted to try. Walking this whole neighborhood I began to notice that there was not too many reasonable (i.e. cheap) places to eat in Chelsea and thought this would be a nice place.
Grand Sichuan Restaurant at 229 Ninth Avenue
The Grand Sichuan I have to admit could use a good makeover as it is a little dated and theadbare but the food and the service are really good and are worth the visit. Wanted to try something different I had the Orange Flavored Beef Special with Fried Rice and an Egg Roll. The whole meal was delicious.
The Orange Flavored Beef was wonderful
The one thing I liked about the lunch specials ($9.95) at the Grand Sichuan Restaurant is that the portion sizes are very fair and everything was freshly cooked and spiced extremely well. The beef really loaded with chilis that gave it a good pinch. The egg roll was loaded with shredded cabbage and nice pieces of roast pork.
It really was an interesting walk of the neighborhood. Not just on learning the history of the area but passing the open air museum that the area has become. With the renovation of the local parks and new building going on there is more changes on the way. As we leave enter the hopeful post-COVID era where we enter the new normal you are going to see a lot of development on all sides of this neighborhood.
Just like the rest of Manhattan it just keeps morphing.
See my other blogs on Walking North Chelsea/Flower District:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty Seven: Walking the Borders of North Chelsea/Flower District:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Eight: Walking the Avenues of North Chelsea/Flower District:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Nine: Walking the Streets of North Chelsea/Flower District:
Places to Eat:
Grand Sichuan Restaurant
229 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:30am-11:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
Places to Visit:
Hudson River Park
Extends from West 59th to Battery Park City
New York, NY 10011
Open: Sunday-Saturday: Check the website for hours and events