Meatpacking District, NYC Guide

Some of the trendiest things happening in New York today are going down in the Meatpacking District—which, of course, given the city’s reputation, is saying something! This small neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan has become quite the hot destination in recent years. The Meatpacking District is where you’ll encounter some of New York’s most luxurious shopping destinations, as well as popular attractions like the High Line, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the 9/11 Museum Workshop, and Little Island, one of the city’s newest parks.

Meatpacking District History

As you might imagine when pausing to ponder the circumstances of how a neighborhood known as the Meatpacking District has become an international mecca for high-end fashion designers, luxury products, and trendy hotels, restaurants, and shops, the area has a rich and diverse history. During the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the Meatpacking District, with its commercial piers along the Hudson River, was where much of New York City’s heavy industry had their freight yards. Accordingly, by the turn of the century, the area had become the site of numerous slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants, and this would be the case until the 1950s and the advent of deindustrialization.

From roughly the 1960s to the 1980s, the Meatpacking District became known for its nightlife. It wasn’t until the 1990s, when several prominent fashion designers opened high-end boutiques in the area, that the Meatpacking District began its transformation into a neighborhood most associated with money, glamor, and upscale thrills.

Exploring the Meatpacking District

Over the past two decades, few New York City attractions have electrified locals and visitors alike as the High Line. This narrow, almost trail-like public NYC park was built on the remains of an old railroad viaduct, and its southern entrance is located right here in the Meatpacking District. Whether you stroll the High Line for the entirety of its nearly 1.5 miles or never make it past the first art installation, flowering garden, or performance that catches your eye, you’ll be glad you made the time to experience it for yourself.

Near the entrance to the High Line is the Whitney Museum of American Art, another one of New York City’s outstanding art museums. The Whitney is perhaps most famous for its Biennial, a long-running survey of the latest and greatest happenings in the contemporary art world, but its permanent collection features pieces by Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Joseph Stella, Alexander Calder, and so many, many more fine artists.

The 9/11 Museum Workshop on West 14th Street brings together over 100 images and artifacts collected from Ground Zero in the wake of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center as part of one moving, powerful exhibit. The museum’s founder was the official photographer of Ground Zero on behalf of the Uniformed Firefighters Association & Uniformed Fire Officers Association, and his incredible work and unparalleled access shine through in the pieces gathered here.

The tiny-yet-glamorous Meatpacking District is nestled alongside the Hudson River, with the art galleries of Chelsea to the north and the charming West Village to the south.

Meatpacking District Dining

Dining in the Meatpacking District tends toward the expensive and buzz-worthy end of the spectrum, so if you’re in the mood for that special night out, it might be just right for you. If you’re not feeling splashing the cash, there are plenty of pleasant coffee shops and reliable chain brands in the area to keep you more than full and satisfied.

If you’d like a helping hand getting to the bottom of the food scene in and around the Meatpacking District, there are several guided tours available that’ll provide just that: knowledgeable local experts who will take you to some of the neatest and tastiest establishments found throughout the Meatpacking District, Chelsea, West Village, and beyond.

Meatpacking District Shopping

If you’re interested in visiting the Meatpacking District, you’re more than likely interested in shopping, and the neighborhood is sure to deliver on that front. The Meatpacking District is all about high-end designer stores, with multiple exclusive and unique shopping experiences to be had across its several blocks.

The six-floor flagship store of luxury home décor brand RH (formerly known as Restoration Hardware) anchors the southeast corner of the neighborhood. Here you’ll find nearly 100,000 square feet of high-end bedding, textiles, lighting, furniture, and more, as well as the popular RH Rooftop Restaurant.

Nearby you’ll find brick-and-mortar locations for stylish brands like Diane von Furstenberg, Rolex, and Hermès, the French luxury design house, just to name a few. And not to worry, if these options somehow fail to provide you with enough shopping fun—or you find yourself blinking in hesitation at some of the price tags you encounter in the Meatpacking District—you can always head a short distance north to the art galleries of Chelsea or south to the chic boutiques of West Village.

Explore the Meatpacking District Like a Local

  • One of New York City’s newest attractions is Little Island, a privately owned park located on an artificially created island at Pier 55 in the Hudson River. Designed by the same team responsible for Hudson Yards’ Vessel, Little Island is built on hundreds of concrete pilings that extend into the bed of the Hudson River. Visitors to Little Island can wander the park’s two acres and enjoy its plant life, green spaces, concessions, and occasional live programming.
  • Chelsea Market, located just a couple blocks north of the Meatpacking District, is a haven for foodies from near and far. It’s worth checking out, and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, grab something to go and treat yourself to a picturesque picnic in a cozy nook along the High Line.