Chelsea received its name from captain Thomas Clark, who bought a tract of rural farm land in the area in 1750 and named it after the Chelsea Royal Hospital, an old soldiers’ retirement home in London. Captain Clark’s grandson Clemmon Clarke Moore is considered the founding father of Chelsea, since he developed it as a garden suburb. He is also the author credited with writing Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Points of interest are the historic district between 20th and 22nd Streets and 8th and 10th Avenues. It includes a serene gothic style general theological seminary, a surprising refuge in the middle of bustling Manhattan. Also worth seeing are the Italian style Fitzroy Place co-ops, which extends from 52nd to 23rd Street. These townhouses show much of their original details with thoughtful front gardens, big rear gardens, cast-iron railings and imitation gas lamps.
Early in the century Chelsea was one of the major locations for silent filmmaking, before the endless blue skies of Hollywood beckoned. It also enjoyed fame in the Victorian era as New York's theater district, until the theaters began their march up Broadway toward the bright lights of Times Square. And before Greenwich Village became inseparable with Bohemianism in the 1920s, Chelsea was the center of the "free" way of life.