NYC’s Historic Districts at a Glance

New York City is home to the ghosts of several historic districts, as well as a few that are still alive and kicking. While the names of these districts are in some cases obsolete or near obsolete, most of these neighborhoods have managed, for better or worse, to retain a bit of their historic flare. In places like the Flower District and the Garment District, the ghost hasn’t been given up so easily. While these districts may be but shadows of their former floral and mercantile glories respectively, there are still a good number of businesses who make a living doing what they’ve done for decades. Other historic districts are almost completely unrecognizable. With the exodus of many of the industries which were once the lifeblood of these neighborhoods and the coinciding increase in opportunities for residential development in these reclaimed spaces, there are quite a variety of options for urban explorers and potential homebuyers alike in the heart of the city and further downtown.

The Standard Hotel overlooking The Highline. Photo credit: Benjamin Norman/ The New York Times

The Meatpacking District/Chelsea
The Meatpacking District is perhaps the most changed of all of New York City’s historic districts. Where once giant slaughterhouses, butcher shops and meat processing plants stood, there are now luxury hotels, refurbished loft spaces, designer clothing stores and chic art houses, in addition to an established  theater and dance community, and vibrant nightlife.  The recent renovation of the Highline adds some much needed greenery to this formerly macabre nabe. Neighborhood highlights include the rooftop bar at The Standard Hotel, Abingdon Square, Chelsea MarketHudson River Park, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.  1 bedroom condos in the area can be had for well under $2M while 4 bedroom units in the area can range anywhere from about $8M to nearly $30M.

Jenn Ackerman: The New York Times

Photo courtesy of Jenn Ackerman/The New York Times.

The Flower District
Although the Flower District isn’t what it once was, most long-time New Yorkers know the feeling of entering unexpectedly into that one lush, verdant block on W. 28th St. Many of the flower stores on this magical strip have been in the floral business under one owner or another for the better part of a century, and the old-time tradition of lining the street with everything from towering palm trees to flowering cacti, has continued into the present day. Most of these shops are open for business at dawn, which is also when the most fragrant deals are to be had. There is also a serious and quietly growing gallery scene in the area.

The Flatiron Building. Photo courtesy of DNAinfo

The Flatiron District
The Flatiron District, also known as the Madison Square Park district and formerly known as the Toy District, boasts some of the city’s most striking architecture as well as a plethora of shopping and dining options. The relatively small area, bounded by Greenwich Village to the south and NoMad to the north, takes its name from the iconic Flatiron Building, designed by Daniel Turnham and completed in 1902. Since the early 1900’s, when New York’s elite began to move into the area surrounding Madison Square Park, the area has been known for its luxury real estate. Condos in the District are listed at an average of $1,816 per square foot. A 4,155 square foot, 4 bedroom, 4 bath luxury condo at soon-to-be-redeveloped 212 5th Avenue will run you just a tad over $16M, while a 6,620 square ft. duplex at One Madison goes for around $37.5M.

Image courtesy of The New York Times

The Garment District
New York City’s Garment District was for a time responsible for the majority of all clothing production in the U.S. While high rents and competition from overseas manufacturers have weakened the District’s national and international influence, the area is still home to many design houses and fabric distributors, as well as quite a remarkable variety of rooftop lounges and eateries. Located in the heart of Midtown near Port Authority Bus Terminal and Times Square, the Garment District is one of the city’s most bustling neighborhoods.

Time Square. Photo credit: Jen Davis

Times Square/ Theater District
Perhaps the most storied of New York’s districts is the tourist hotspot Times Square, and the adjacent Theater District. While you probably won’t find a ton of locals, this glittering image of New York is the one that is most well-known to America and the world. Illuminated by hundreds of thousands of lights and towering walls of giant LCD screens, the Times Square/ Theater District is the gilded heart of the city. Check out any of the dozens of Broadway shows currently running or stop into Sardi’s or Gallagher’s Steak House for a taste of Broadway. In nearby Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen the average price per square foot is currently $1,483.

The Diamond District. Photo courtesy of NYCGO

The Diamond District
Maybe a diamond really is forever. Comprised of one city block beginning at the intersection of W. 47 St. and Avenue of the America’s, the Diamond District remains the dominant diamond market in the country. According to the Diamond District website, more than 90% of diamonds in the U.S. come through New York and of those, the majority are funneled through the district, where many of the stones are cut, graded, and set. Located 2 blocks south of Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, the District is home to more than 2,000 independent dealers and is considered one of the world’s premier jewelry marketplaces.

NYSE. Photo courtesy of New York Magazine

The Financial District
Wall Street and the historic Financial District have certainly been through a lot in the last 150 years or so. Nevertheless, it has maintained its role as the capital of the financial world with an average daily trading value of over $160B. The area is home to the New York Stock ExchangeSouth Street SeaportThe National Museum of the American Indian,and Trinity Church. The neighborhood has seen an uptick in luxury residential developments in recent years, and the trendy eateries and galleries of Tribeca are also within a short walk’s distance. If quiet nights and a relatively low average price per square foot are your thing, the neighborhood is worth a look. During daylight hours, the Financial District is one of the busiest areas in the city; but that all changes by about 6:00 pm, when the bankers, traders, personal assistants, and clerical workers have all gone home. By nightfall, the southern extremity of Manhattan is quiet and dim, except for the area around the Freedom Tower, which glows like a distant lighthouse.

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