Meatpacking District is an ultra trendy nabe with a gritty history

While walking through the Meatpacking District, traces of its industrial past are still visible among the exclusive clubs, trendy restaurants and high-end retail boutiques.

The Belgian block stone streets are still present, although they no longer collect puddles of animal blood. The historical architecture remains, but inside you’re more likely to find the latest fashion by Diane von Furstenberg or a hip art gallery than men processing cattle, pig and sheep carcasses.

There were about 200 meatpacking companies in the neighborhood a few decades ago, but today there are less than 10. They include wholesaler J.T. Jobbagy, a family business since 1925, at 832 Washington St., and Weichsel Beef, open for nearly 50 years, at 826 Washington St.

No longer known for its meat manufacturing, the area is now a contender for one of Manhattan’s trendiest in terms of art and night life.

Richard Lieberman, 70, who worked in his father’s meatpacking plant as a child in the 1950s and is now a professor at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, said he’s witnessed the district’s transformation.

“It’s pretty powerful to go and see what was once a place for blood and meat and sawdust and now look at it,” Lieberman said. “It’s amazing, what a change.”

Amenities include the High Line park, which begins on Gansevoort Street and is an urban oasis floating above the city streets. The new Whitney Museum of American Art at 99 Gansevoort, which opened in the spring of 2015, is impressive both for the collection of art inside and the modern architecture of the building itself.

Chelsea Market at 75 Ninth Ave. is packed with swanky dining options such as the Cull & Pistol oyster bar and Los Tacos No. 1, and shops like Anthropologie and Artists & Fleas.

Jeffrey, a boutique at 449 W. 14th St. that opened in 1999 and sells designer fashions for women and men, was once considered so elite it was parodied in a recurring 2001 “Saturday Night Live” sketch featuring Jimmy Fallon.

This summer, unique events in the area include a special happy hour from Sunday through Tuesday at restaurateur Danny Meyer’s new eatery Untitled, located in the Whitney, where diners can meet the restaurant’s chefs and taste unique dishes and specialty cocktails.

In terms of housing, the core of the Meatpacking District is zoned for commercial purposes, so options are limited. Many of the area’s residences are on 14th, 15th and 16th streets, which are lined with prewar walk-ups.

Renovated loft spaces with modern features are also sprinkled throughout the neighborhood, and new construction such as the 345meatpacking condo at 345 W. 14th St. and The Modern rental at 343 W. 16th St. offer luxury living options.

According to StreetEasy, the median sales price in the Meatpacking District in 2015 was $850,000, which was below the median for the borough overall, which was $990,000. Renting in the area was a bit pricier, with the median rent in the neighborhood in 2015 at $4,040, which was above the Manhattan median of $3,200, according to the real estate listings site.

“It’s a great place to live. Certainly the location is hard to beat,” said Rory Bolger, 43, a licensed real estate broker with Citi Habitats. “You have access to Chelsea, the West Village, the Hudson River waterfront, and of course the High Line.”

However, there are some drawbacks to living in such a popular location, locals said. The neighborhood is a destination for tourists who pack the High Line and Chelsea Market during the day, and fill clubs such as Le Bain, at the top of the Standard Hotel at 848 Washington St., at night.

“For someone to live there, they would have to be comfortable with the amount of tourists that are there,” Bolger said. “Some New Yorkers are just not interested in that.”

Jim O’Connell, 56, who has lived in the Meatpacking District for 15 years, said he misses its quieter days.

“It’s a little too crowded,” he said. “It’s a little crazy now.”

But Lauren Danziger, executive director of the Meatpacking Business Improvement District, said she thinks the change from industrial and gritty to glamorous and glitzy is beneficial.

“I think that this neighborhood is really special,” Danziger said. “The unique sense of place that is created within this small little section of Manhattan is beyond anything that people expect.”

Find it:

The Meatpacking District is located between Eighth Avenue to the east and 11th Avenue to the west. It is bordered to the north by West 16th Street and the south by Horatio Street.