It wasn’t so very long ago that the Meatpacking District was primarily, well, a district in which meat was packed. Today, though, the small neighborhood west of Ninth Avenue between West 14th Street and Gansevoort Street is dominated not by meat distribution companies (although a few still operate there) but by new-style Manhattan meat markets such as SoHo House, Pastis and the ultra-popular rooftop bars at luxurious Meatpacking District hotels such as The Gansevoort. Once one of Manhattan’s most utilitarian neighborhoods, the Meatpacking District is now a fashionable neighborhood home to boutiques, galleries, high-end restaurants and a raucous nightlife scene. And, in true Manhattan fashion, it all happened seemingly overnight.
But as impressive as the Meatpacking District’s transition from protein-distribution mecca to high-end neighborhood is, not everything about the neighborhood changed during its rapid rise over the last decade. The Meatpacking District is still home to quaint cobblestone streets lined with historic brownstones, still home to a cultural scene notably more laid-back than the wild hotel bar scene, and increasingly as desirable a place to live as it is a place to live it up. A few new construction condominiums in the Meatpacking District have modernized the housing stock, while many new Meatpacking District loft spaces have been carved out of pre-war industrial buildings. And the area around the beloved High Line Park, which begins in the Meatpacking District (and which serviced those meat distributorships in its previous life as an elevated freight railway), is home to some of the most architecturally distinguished new condos in Manhattan. Although best known for its overnight transformation and overwhelming nightlife scene, the Meatpacking District has become much more than the sum of its fashionable parts -- and certainly a very different and more desirable neighborhood than it was just a two decades ago.