Being a History of the Meatpacking District

Approx. 4500 B.C.: Lenape tribe settle in New York area, shun Meatpacking District as "too canoe & kayak."

1524: Florentine navigator Giovvani da Verrazzano becomes first person of Italian descent to visit area; gets handjob from drunken local after claiming to be "a large personne in the Spice trades."

1525: Black, Portuguese pilot Esteban Gomez visits area; is immediately taunted with variety of Italian slurs for dark-skinned produce Lenape picked up from Verrazzano.

1568: First reported crossing of Hudson by Englishman; historians date eventual establishment of Soho House to this moment.

1626: New Netherland Director General Peter Minuit purchases Manhattan from local tribes for $24 plus promise to buy at least two bottles of Cristal in V.I.P. lounge.

1664: Director General Peter Stuyvesant surrenders New Amsterdam to the English; King Charles II declares territory "an area forewith to which we will send our most wretched, unpleasant personages"; early progenitors of various Sykes siblings sit up and take notice.

1884: Gansevoort Market, named after Revolutionary War figure Peter Gansevoort, opens. (Gansevoort, interestingly enough, was Herman Melville's grandfather, and thus an antecedent of Moby, whom you knew had to have something to do with this.) Although originally a general open-air vending area, the market eventually grows to be one of the largest animal-slaughtery locations in the United States. Nothing of much interest occurs in the MPD for the next hundred years.

1984: Publication of Bright Lights, Big City ruins Soho area for anyone who wants to avoid Jay McInenrny. Jaded, trend-hungry douchebags wonder what will be the next big thing, cast a wary eye north. "We need to find a gritty, underdeveloped neighborhood and put in a restaurant," they think.

1985: Florent opens. Although even the neighborhood's fiercest detractors acknowledge innovation and daring implicit in the opening of a bistro in the MPD at this point in time, it can only be viewed as the root of the poisonous tree from whence springs all evil.

1992: Hogs & Heifers opens, ushering in era of scuzball chic.

2000: Samantha Jones moves from UES to MPD. Thousands of young women who are so unimaginative that they base their own lives on an HBO program written by a gay man and some dude who will eventually become the world's most annoying advice columnist decide that the area is the next big thing.

Lotus opens. Had al-Qaeda bombed this place during certain evenings of its first year they would today be considered national heroes, feted at awards dinners and their features put on stamps and currency.

2002: Keith McNally opens Pastis, forces NYT columnist Rob Walker to coin phrase "la vie fauxh me."

Cielo opens.

2003: Soho House opens, providing the rest of us a brief period of respite from dodgy, dickheaded Brits who helpfully quarantine themselves at 13th and 9th until membership of Nick Denton makes attendance intolerable.

Delta's Song Airlines becomes "official sponsor" of Meatpacking District, folds within three years.

New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designates Gansevoort Market section a "historic district." Everything's okay now!

2004: Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Gray Kunz open Spice Market, ensuring wealthy foodie MPD holdouts finally need to venture into neighborhood for $30 versions of stuff sold on the streets of Kuala Lampur for fifty cents.

Hotel Gansevoort opens, offering Eurotrash suitable lodgings convenient to world's most Eurotrash-amenable region.

5 Ninth opens, prompting Frank Bruni to write, "Seldom has a Manhattan neighborhood gone from intriguing to annoying ā€” from on-the-cusp to over-the-top ā€” with the distressing speed and depressing thoroughness of the meatpacking district. It is not really a neighborhood anymore. It is an urban theme park: a gaudy epicurean grab bag that weds cuisines from here and there to cocktails from the here and now. It is a "Sex and the City" fantasy in which would-be Carries and could-be Bigs look for love and settle for lamb under supremely flattering lighting." Holy shit, Frank Bruni wrote that? Wow, this neighborhood sucks.

2005: Del Posto opens, marrying the charm of an over-the-top, bloated, foul-mouthed and perverse area to the skills of chef Mario Batali.

Ono opens, offering convicted felon Jeffrey Chodorow a chance to do something more embarrassing to cuisine than that reality TV show with Rocco DiSpirito.

2006: Western Beef closes, an event that would have been fraught with symbolism had anyone with any sense still cared about the neighborhood.

Buddakan opens, prompting more subtle restaurateurs like Mario Batali and Jeffrey Chodorow to wonder if it's not "a little over-the-top."

Comix opens, making for the most meta absurdity yet. Putting a comedy club in the Meatpacking District is like opening a coffee shop in a Starbucks. Can this neighborhood get any worse?