While walking east on 20th Street in New York, I noticed an interesting structure on the intersection at Avenue of the Americas (6th). Next to all of the high rise, flat sided buildings sat a short brick building with steeples and sharp-angled doors that opened outward. Although the building appeared to be a trendy looking church, the sign read “Limelight Marketplace“.
The view from the 3rd floor
Curious, I went in to explore. The inside is like a mall/marketplace. I say mall because there are four floors of shopping in one building, and I say marketplace because the shops are not separated by walls but seem to blend together into one giant store. While the bright lights and pristine white walls lead you to believe only the rich and famous should be allowed to enter, there actually was a lot of affordable merchandise, as well as a ton of sales going on (I almost bought a really unique looking Jaguar-head ring for $20 plus an extra 20% off, but it didn’t fit). Selections included a bar, restaurant, gelato stand, jewelry, men and women’s clothing, shoes, bath and body products, housewares, accessories, and more, all with that boutique feeling that everything is one-of-a-kind. At the very top, you can even have any type of clothing you want custom made to fit your body.
One of the many stained glass windows in the church-turned-marketplace. Also notice how the roof becomes angled.
While shopping, I began to feel that my instincts about the building being a church were correct, as the stained glass windows and pointed roof become more apparent as you make your way to the top floor. Apparently, the building was once the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion, a gothic revival brownstone built in the mid-1800’s. Then it was the infamous Limelight club, known for its abundant drug use and half naked cage dancers.
One of the shop girls told me she had actually been to the club in its prime, explaining to me that is was absolutely unreal how there were no rules in the bar. People would literally do drugs in the open, in a place that had once been a house of God.
“It didn’t feel right,” she admitted. “But, it was definitely fun.”
Once the club was shut down for good, numerous retail businesses move in, and after some trial and error, the Limelight Marketplace was born.
Cute sign that leads to an open patio area with tables for people to relax and eat in outdoors
One thing that really struck me about the market, aside from the history and architecture, was how amazingly friendly all of the workers are. Because I look like I’m 12 and unemployed, the higher-end retail staff in New York usually don’t feel a need to acknowledge me. However, these people all went out of their way to not only tell me about their shops but also to get to know me and tell me more about the building, events, and everyday topics. I would absolutely recommend the Limelight Marketplace for anyone looking for some great shopping and architecture in the Big Apple.
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