Chelsea is part of Manhattan Community Board 4. contains the Chelsea Historic District and its extension, which were designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1970 and 1981 respectively. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, and expanded in 1982 to include contiguous blocks containing particularly significant examples of period architecture.
The neighborhood is primarily residential, with a mix of tenements, apartment blocks, city housing projects, townhouses, and renovated rowhouses, but its many retail businesses reflect the ethnic and social diversity of the population. The area has a large LGBTQ population. Chelsea is also known as one of the centers of the city’s art world, with over 200 galleries in the neighborhood. As of 2015, due to the area’s gentrification, there is a widening income gap between the wealthy living in luxury buildings and the poor living in housing projects, who are, at times, across the street from each other.
Chelsea takes its name from the estate and Georgian-style house of retired British Major Thomas Clarke, who obtained the property when he bought the farm of Jacob Somerindyck on August 16, 1750. The land was bounded by what would become 21st and 24th Streets, from the Hudson River to Eighth Avenue. Clarke chose the name “Chelsea” after the Royal Hospital Chelsea, a retirement home for soldiers in London, England. Clarke passed the estate on to his daughter, Charity, who, with her husband Benjamin Moore, added land on the south of the estate, extending it to 19th Street. The house was the birthplace of their son, Clement Clarke Moore, who in turn inherited the property. Moore is generally credited with writing “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and was the author of the first Greek and Hebrew lexicons printed in the United States.
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