The Revival of the Meatpacking District

What do the Financial, Garment and Meatpacking District have in common? In addition to the fact that they are all located in Manhattan, these neighborhoods all have names that are indicative of the neighborhood’s history. The Financial District is home to Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange; the Garment District caters to all aspects of the fashion industry; and the Meatpacking District at its height had close to 250 slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants. Unlike FiDi however, the Meatpacking and Garment District have been struggling to preserve their identity as the rising cost of rent drives out many long-time tenants. And in an effort to rally up support for the neighborhood preservation project, the Meatpacking District Improvement Association (MIPA) recently published a mini-documentary about the history and transformation of the neighborhood.

The Meatpacking District, as traditionally bounded by West 14th Street to Gansevoort Street from the Hudson River to Hudson Street, is most often recognized by the cobblestone streets and the elevated railroad line along Ninth Avenue and Greenwich Street. In the mini-documentary, notable Meatpacking District residents like David Rabin (Owner of Double Seven), Florent Morellet (Restaurant Florent) and Mazdack Rassi (Founder & Creative Director of Milk Studios) recounted their days in the neighborhood in addition to where they see it heading in the future.

Thanks to acclaimed television shows like Sex and the City and Gossip Girls, the Meatpacking District continues to be one of the hottest hubs for nightlife and luxury residential condos and rentals among the city’s elite. By the early 2000s, only 35 out of the original 250 slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants continued to operate in the area alongside nightclubs, high end-boutiques and luxury hotels. Joining the list of world renowned fashion boutiques like Diane von Fürstenberg at 874 Washington Street, Jeffrey at 449 West 14th Street and The Standard Hotel at 848 Washington Street will be the Whitney Museum of Art. Once construction is complete in 2015, the Whitney Museum of Art will bid farewell to its current home at 945 Madison Avenue and reemerge as a frontrunner in the downtown art scene. As the Meatpacking District fights to preserve its roots while advancing into the frontiers, it will be interesting to see how the symbiotic relationship between the residential, commercial and cultural scenes plays out in the years to come.

The “Meatpacking District - Past Present Future” mini-documentary is accessible on Vimeo.com.

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