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In Photos: 120 Years of the Meatpacking District's Evolving Landscape

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All images from the Museum of the City of New York collection, unless otherwise noted.

Under the southern end of the High Line, sandwiched between the new Whitney Museum and the ritzy Standard Hotel, sits the last vestige of the industry from which the Meatpacking District derives its name. There, an 80,000-square-foot warehouse holds Manhattan's last seven companies that do just what the neighborhood's moniker suggests.

Surviving is tough in the neighborhood that has, over the past decades, transformed from a nexus of food distribution into an unlikely hotbed of nightlife. By Crains' estimate, at its peak in the 1950's, the Meatpacking District consisted of 200 companies that employed 3,000 butchers and wholesalers. Now, just 120 employees in the field are left in lower Manhattan; the remainder have decamped to Hunts Point in the Bronx.


[Gansevoort Street circa 1890.]

Given the neighborhood's transformation and the rising rents that have accompanied it, it comes off as surprising that even those few meatpacking companies can remain in operation. Part of why the meatpackers, who have functioned as a co-op since 1974, still remain in lower Manhattan has to do with logistics. The other, much larger part concerns a deal they cut with the NCYEDC when the Whitney started eyeing its new downtown location. The deal was this: the meatpackers would cede part of their property to the museum in exchange for a lease prolonged from 2014 to 2032. Along with that came the rent: a "breathtakingly low" $18.75 per square foot, a strong outlier from the $372 per square foot that REBNY reports as the neighborhood's average retail rent.

There's no knowing yet just what will happen when the meatpackers' lease expires in 17 years, but it goes without saying that the Meatpacking District was a very different place just 17 years ago. At that, it's time for a look back at the neighborhood culled to the cultural forefront by a whole host of things, including trailblazing restaurant Pastis and a little television show called Sex and the City.


· They got beef: The neighborhood the meatpackers made has been their undoing [Crain's]
· Plan to Rebuild Historic Gansevoort Street Outrages Neighbors [Curbed]
· All Meatpacking District coverage [Curbed]