When walking through the Meatpacking District, it feels like more of a destination than an actual place; innumerable high end restaurants, stores, and boutiques sporting price tags that give the average person a headache, all peppered in between buildings that seem to almost still reek of the slaughtered cows. It is a place that combines the grime of historical development with the glitz and glam of the most cutting-edge and modern crowd imaginable. However, despite the fact that more people come to the Meatpacking District than stay, there is still a strong sense of safety, and something of a community that arises from the fact that all of the people have commuted to this destination together, and are working to create safety and belonging.
This uniquely New York combination makes it a hot tourism spot for the young, affluent, and socially risqué. And the hotels of the meatpacking district have catered directly in to the audience they desire.
The Jane Hotel
The Jane Hotel, circa 1908
The Jane Hotel was built at the turn of the 20th Century, and was initially used as a lodging grounds for seamen and workers of the coast. Built in the style of the cabin aboard the ships that these sailors were so used to, The Jane Hotel, at it’s start, was not intended to be a luxurious accommodation of any variety. Rather, the inexpensive prices and the ease of access to the water made it ideal for the single sailors who needed someplace to sleep. After the Titanic sank, the survivors were brought directly to the Jane Hotel, who cleared out their rooms and housed them, free of charge, for the months following the disaster, until the women and children were able to get back on their feet.
Since then, having gone through a variety of uses, including, amongst them, a YMCA, and a run-down congregation place for drug addicts and the like, the Jane Hotel is still standing in it’s original condition. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s the hotel was the backdrop for a large number of rock-and-roll clubs and events.
The Jane Hotel, Now
Today, the Jane Hotel is a highly rated hotel, who prides themselves on more charm than luxury. The rooms are all organized in the same way that they were when the sailors and the Titanic survivors made board, with bunk beds, communal floor bathrooms, and all wood panelling.The Victorian-style bar holds a majority of the hotel’s history, with artifacts and decorations from all of the many turns of style which the hotel itself has seen. With rooms ranging from $99 to $200 a night, the Jane Hotel is the most uniquely historic and penny-wise hotel in the entirety of the Meatpacking District.
The Gansevoort Hotel sports one of the heftiest price tags of the Meatpacking District hotels.
Because of the ritzy quality of a large majority of the Meatpacking District’s clubs, nightlife scene, and boutique high-end shopping, the general tourist coming to stay in the Meatpacking District is someone who isn’t altogether worried about the number at the bottom of the check. This is why The Standard Hotel and Hotel Gansevoort, the two biggest, most popular, and most renowned hotels in the Meatpacking District, sport price tags that are enough to make the middle-class American break out in hives. At neither hotel is it possible to get a room for a night without dropping less than $400, with the majority of the rooms edging far higher up toward the $1,000 mark. And, seeing as the Meatpacking District is an entire destination in and of itself, with high-end restaurants and boutiques, adding into night-life oriented area, hotels have taken that in stride to create multi-use facilities. Hotel Gansevoort, for example, has world-class spas, hair salons, and gyms, as well as two highly-coveted night clubs and an all night café.
The Standard Hotel is one of the tourist beacons of the Meatpacking District, with a rooftop bar that sports breathtaking views of the entire Hudson River, and a price tag to match in shock-value.
Many Jacobian values are reflected in the ways that the Meatpacking District interacts with neighborhoods around it, and with the feel of the neighborhood itself. Because of the massive amount of tourist attractions, such as the High Line, and the Chelsea Market, all of which sport security guards who are constantly, covertly patrolling their appropriated areas, and especially because of the hotels, there are constant eyes on the street. The hotels alone warrant a high amount of safety because of the 24/7 patrolling of a slew of individuals; doormen are constantly on watch at the front, security guards (at the higher end hotels) sometimes patrol around blocks, bell-boys commute in and out from the cars to the rooms constantly, guests come and go at all hours of the night, which brings in taxi cabs and drivers who patrol, from a distance, in their own way. It seems that the tourist hubs like hotels do something to replace the residential “eyes on the street” which Jacobs references in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities in a neighborhood that lacks the quintessential residential aspect which oftentimes breeds the feeling of safety. There are very few corners, during the day or at night, within the Meatpacking District where one feels as though they are completely isolated or unobserved.
The tourism of the Meatpacking District has a very distinctive audience in mind, with advertisements of quasi-sexual nature promoting the majority of the most elite hotels. They know that the clubs are catering to celebrities, music moguls, models, and wealthy travelers alike, and they have thus formed their hotels to match that standard. The average American tourist is probably not going to stay in the Meatpacking District on their next trip to the big apple, but if you know what your net worth is, you shop more at Versace than K-Mart and you want to stay up until sunrise just for the sake of living at night, then the Meatpacking District might just be the place for you.
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The Jane Hotel. 1908. Photograph. Library of Congress, NYC. Prints & Photographs
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