A longtime Chelsea resident, Joshua David took an active role in the future of the neighborhood — and the entire city — after meeting Robert Hammond at a community board meeting in 1999. The two would go on to co-found Friends of the High Line, embarking on a decade-long journey to turn the abandoned elevated train tracks snaking up the west side of Manhattan into one of the most successful urban reclamation projects the world has recently seen. The High Line, running from Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street (initial designs for the uncompleted third phase were recently released), attracts over two million visitors per year and has spurred $2 billion in local investment and development. Last year, David and Hammond released High Line: The Inside Story on New York City’s Park in the Sky, a beautiful book documenting the transformation of the train tracks into one of New York City’s signature public spaces.
I’ve been living in the neighborhood since: 1986
The best thing to happen to the neighborhood in that time: The High Line! And Chelsea Market.
And the worst: The closing of 18th and 8th, Big Cup, and Bright Food Shop (to be replaced by Qdoba!) were 8th Avenue tragedies — tragedies!
Where I go for my morning coffee: I grind beans (Vienna Roast) from Manhattan Fruit Exchange at Chelsea Market and brew my own.
Favorite restaurant: I can’t pick one. Colicchio & Sons, Cookshop, Omai, La Promenade des Anglais, Del Posto, Trestle on Tenth, Co., and Chelsea Square diner, among others.
Best brunch: I love Cookshop for brunch.
Favorite bar: There’s no place better for a shady rendezvous than the dark haunt of a bar at El Quixote in the Chelsea Hotel.
Favorite store: Parke & Ronen, where cute customers pack themselves into tight bathing suits and fish for compliments from the staff.
Where I go for some culture: There’s great art everywhere — in the galleries, like Paula Cooper, Matthew Marks, and David Zwirner, and on the High Line, where we have new commissions, performances, and screenings all the time. Check it out.
Where I go to clear my head: Spin class, 7:00 AM Mon – Wed – Fri, at David Barton Gym.
The best Chinese take-out in the neighborhood: Grand Sichuan, 9th Ave and 24th Street
My favorite hidden gem in the neighborhood: Hector’s, the 1940s diner under the High Line, at Little West 12th Street.
Must-do for a visiting out-of-towner: Again — the High Line. And put them on a bike for a ride on the terrific bike lanes on Eighth and Ninth Avenues (the first of their kind in NYC). There’s no better way to see Chelsea, and all of NYC, than on a bike.
Neighborhood Insider is the CORE Blog’s new interview series with prominent New York City personalities about the neighborhoods they live and work in.