West Chelsea

— An old dream

I watched Class Divide, a documentary about the community in West Chelsea. While the show mostly featured a $40k/year private school located across from public housing, it also gave insight on the changing neighborhood.

I worked in the neighborhood in a Frank Gehry building. On my lunch breaks, I'd walk for an hour. Visiting the same streets over and over, I became acquainted with the neighborhood. Before heading home, I'd work out at a gym located at the ground level of the first condo building in the area. Then I'd pick up produce from Chelsea Market.

The documentary goes over the development of the High Line. Repurposed from elevated rails, the park is unique in that you could see the city from an elevated perspective. Enjoy outdoors without traffic. Walking to and from work, I'd see the construction and think 'oh, it's going to be so nice to take a lunch break when it opens. I'll be able to have really nice walks.' By the time the grand opening took place, I'd secured another job uptown. Ironically, the park opened on my last day there.

On a summer day, I met a friend from elementary school. We went to school in the western suburbs of Chicago and hadn't seen each other since graduation. While wandering the city, we caught up. The day was super humid, the air was stagnant and we couldn't get a break from the heat. As we approached West Chelsea, a breeze from the river provided relief. In that moment, I thought: if I ever make it in New York, this is where I'm going to live. It's the most bearable.

This happened before dozens of condos popped up. There was a reason for that breeze--there were less skyscrapers, the area was less dense.

Based on the documentary, living in West Chelsea has become ultra-cliche. It's now a place for foreigners to park their wealth. I wonder which dreams I have today will become obsolete tomorrow.

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