Chelsea’s scene encompasses more than gay life on the popular Eighth Avenue strip and the art galleries around Tenth Avenue. The Irish Repertory Company (132 W. 22nd St, tel: 212-727-2737, www.irishrep.org), in a former warehouse, stages Irish and Irish-American works; the New York Live Arts (219 W. 19th St, tel: 212-924-0077, www.newyorklivearts.org) presents more than 110 performance by some 45 companies and performers every year; and the Joyce Theater (175 Eighth Ave, tel: 212-242-0800, www.joyce.org), in a renovated 1941 art film house, hosts international dance companies.
A bit farther west, the neighborhood turns its back on contemporary culture and is cloaked in the 19th century. Cushman Row, as 20th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues is known, recalls a more genteel era of real-estate development: a block of Greek Revival houses, built by speculators in 1840, are richly embellished with ornate windows and elaborate ironwork. The tree-shaded lawns of the General Theological Seminary (pictured; 21st St, between Ninth and Tenth aves), a block beyond, provide one of the city’s most delightful retreats. Clement Clarke Moore, professor of Oriental and Greek Literature at Columbia University, left his mark in more ways than one. He donated part of his estate (named Chelsea) to the seminary. He also wrote Twas the Night Before Christmas, a poem that is still in the repertoire of all kids awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.