On a cold day, it’s nice to have places to explore indoors. The western edge of Chelsea has become New York’s chief arts neighborhood as the premier galleries left Soho looking for more affordable rent and larger spaces away from the chain stores. Now, a visit to the blocks between 10th and 11th Avenues is a critical part of the New York experience for visitors and natives alike. You'll see works by famous established artists and discover new art by emerging stars. Sometimes, the spaces themselves, in converted factories and warehouses, are as interesting as the art. And a nice part is that they all have free admission.
If you’re like us, walking through the galleries you will eventually need to stop to fuel up with some coffee. One place we like to go in the neighborhood is Intelligentsia Coffee, a branch of a nice chain that started in Chicago, then spread to LA and NY. The Chelsea location is in The Highline Hotel, which describes itself as “an urban sanctuary”. The building that the hotel and café are located in were part of the General Theological Seminary, an Episcopal institution founded in 1817, and were sold by them a few years ago. Having a great flat white in the tranquil yet very hip environment is a nice experience and a wonderful way to take a short break.
An interesting fact is that the Seminary itself is located on land that once belonged to Clement Clark Moore, a wealthy New Yorker best known for writing the poem “Twas a Night Before Christmas” in 1822. This poem is largely responsible for American’s conception of Santa Claus. There are always many layers of history in New York and I love learning about them.