In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

A S t r o l l t h r o u g h t h e M A r k e t I n t r o d u c t I o n “Hey, doctor, didn’t you study barbers before working here?” Giancarlo asks me after returning to the butcher shop from getting everyone coffee. I was in the middle of my yearlong internship at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in Chelsea Market when Giancarlo asked me this question. Chelsea Market is located in the former Nabisco factory. It takes up an entire city block, between 9th and 10th Avenues and 15th and 16th Streets in Manhattan. Chelsea Market is actually twenty-two separate structures, seamlessly sutured together. In the late nineteenth century Chelsea was a manufacturing area for many products, including baked goods. After a series of consolidations the National Biscuit Company officially formed in 1898, and at its peak Nabisco produced half of the baked goods in the United States, including such products as Premium Saltines, Fig Newtons, Barnum’s Animal Crackers , and, most famously, the Oreo. By the 1930s new technology, specifically long, continuous “band ovens,” was remaking the baking industry by replacing the old vertical ovens. Nabisco installed some band ovens in its complex, but assembly line–style manufacturing is better suited for long, single-story buildings. As a small island Manhattan does verticality quite well; horizontality , not so much. To stay competitive Nabisco moved all of its production to New Jersey in 1958, and sold its Chelsea buildings in 1959. Some light manufacturing companies occupied the buildings in the ensuing decades, but for the most part they fell into disuse, along with most of the neighborhood’s industrial buildings.1 In the 1990s real estate investor Irwin B. Cohen assembled a group to buy the Nabisco buildings and convert the upper floors into one million square feet of office space and the ground floor and basement into 225,000 square feet of retail space. With this plan Cohen extended the idea of repurposing ‹ 2 › I n t r o d u c t I o n old industrial buildings into more contemporary and profitable uses, which had already been happening in the city for new housing, such as lofts in former manufacturing buildings.2 Completed in 1997 the market’s crowning achievement was the conversion of the back lots of each individual building into a ground-level concourse. With entrances on either end on 9th and 10th Avenues , the serpentine concourse creates an arcade-like experience for visitors, themed around food. Initially, the shops did mainly wholesale business for restaurants and hotels around the city, with some local retail. Chelsea was still gentrifying in the late 1990s, and the idea of a food destination in the neighborhood had yet to blossom. Today Chelsea Market resembles the upscale nature of its surrounding neighborhood, with a mix of repurposed industrial hardware and sleek addons , and fits quite well into the foundations of New York City’s postindustrial economy. The market itself is a high-priced mart, mostly for food, with nearly fifty shops, stands, eateries, and restaurants selling products with labels like “handmade” and “authentic.” The arcade is like a postindustrial theme park. The architects and designers retained the corrugated metal and rusted girders from the complex’s factory days. They also added industrial-metal motifs to the walls and signage; revealed more brickwork; and used granite, drill bits, and an exposed pipe to create a central fountain, as one would find at any mall. Chelsea Market invites visitors to experience the industrial past through a lens of modern urban consumerism. The upstairs offices have several prominent companies of the new economy as tenants, such as Google, the Food Network, the Oxygen Network,, and NY1, a local TV station. In 2010 Google purchased the massive three-million-square-foot Port Authority Building, which it had been leasing since 2006, located directly across the street from Chelsea Market on 9th Avenue, for $1.9 billion (the company paid for the building in cash). In doing so Google joined Lower Manhattan’s expanding base of IT and media companies permanently.3 Along with nearby fashion companies and the boutique Maritime and Standard hotels, these models of today’s economy bring numerous young professionals to the market on a regular basis. The collection of so many food-related businesses in one enclosed place, the pedigree of some (like Masaharu Morimoto and Mario Batali, who own restaurants...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.