New York — By Jessica Colley on February 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm
Filed under: market, Shopping, Top restaurants, top-feature

A Trip to Limelight Marketplace in NYC

In New York, buildings can undergo several reincarnations. In the case of the former church that is now home to the recently opened Limelight Marketplace, this history is an interesting one. The distinctive building first opened in 1844 as the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion. In 1982, the church was transformed into a nightlife destination called the Limelight. From the 80′s all the way to 2007, the Limelight enjoyed the glow of its nightclub status. In February 2009, a new plan was hatched to transform the abandoned church into a lively marketplace. In May 2010, the doors were opened once again for the building’s newest reincarnation.

History buffs will be pleased to know that the church actually underwent some careful restoration during its transformation from abandoned nightclub to marketplace. Visitors can see the restored stained glass windows and limestone arches during a shopping or eating expedition. On a recent cold New York afternoon, I stepped off 6th Avenue at 20th Street and into the Limelight Marketplace for the first time.

The building itself grabbed my attention before any of the shops. Looking up to the church ceiling, the structure gives the marketplace an interesting vibe. On a cold day it is a fun place to browse through high-end retail, make-up, jewelry, housewares, and more. While some visitors will be tempted by the shopping choices, where Limelight Marketplace really shines is with its culinary offerings. Whether you’re looking for a place to warm up with a coffee, stock up on picnic supplies, or sit down for a meal – this marketplace will have something to offer.

Perhaps the biggest name at the new Limelight Marketplace is Grimaldi’s Pizza. This is the first Grimaldi’s to open in Manhattan, and the entrance has the familiar ‘NO SLICES – CASH ONLY’ sign that customers of the original Brooklyn pizzeria will recognize. While I would recommend crossing the river to wait in line and get a table at the original Grimaldi’s (followed by a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge) this spot is good alternative for those visitors who can’t squeeze a trip to Brooklyn into their itinerary.

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Warm weather is right around the corner in NYC and those of us who survived the frigid months are already dreaming of picnics. As I strolled through Jezalin’s, I was tempted by the display cases of cheese, loaves of fresh bread, gourmet sandwiches, juicy dill pickles, and more. This is the market of the Limelight Marketplace, and although pricey (sandwiches $12) everything on offer looked scrumptious. While stocking up for a picnic here would be a splurge, it would also most likely be cheaper than a sit down meal at one of New York’s restaurants.

If you arrive at Limelight later on in the afternoon, you might be looking for a place to have a glass of wine. Perched up on the 3rd floor is Cana Wine Bar, where over 20 wines are available by the glass. This spot is ideal for a little fuel in the early evening if you plan on enjoying a late dinner. Small plates such as cured meats and cheeses, bruschetta, salads, and panini are all available to complement the wines. The vantage point of the wine bar also allows the best appreciation of the architecture of the former church.

You don’t have to splurge on a big meal or picnic to enjoy the culinary offerings of this marketplace. I was tempted by a chocolate chip cookie and hot chocolate, but other sweet treats include cupcakes and a wide variety of gelato. There are a few tables spread throughout the different food areas, making the marketplace a great spot to get out of the cold or rain for a few minutes. It’s also an ideal warm meeting point for friends who can browse or shop while waiting for the rest of their group.

Some similar indoor marketplaces can be overwhelming with a wide variety of choice that leaves visitors wondering where to start. What sets the Limelight Marketplace apart from other shopping centers is how carefully curated it seems to be. If you’re looking for the best in fashion, beauty, and home furnishing all in one place, you will be pleasantly surprised by the densely packed emporium.

The tagline for Limelight Marketplace is ‘New York’s Festival of Shops’. The Marketplace definitely has a fun, celebratory, lively atmosphere. It is full of color and quirky little shops that will make you want to bring home many gifts for loved ones. To see a historic building take on a new life shows part of what New York is all about – embracing the new without getting rid of the old.


  • Limelight Marketplace, 656 Avenue of the Americas (at 20th Street), New York. (map)
  • Opening hours: Saturday – Friday 10:00 am – 9:00 pm and Sunday 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Subway: 1 or 2 to 18th Street, A C E to 23rd Street, F M to 23rd Street.

Photo Credit: All photos from the personal collection of Jessica Colley.

Related places:
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    Limelight Marketplace
    656 6th Ave, , New York, , 10011,
Tags: market, Shopping, Top restaurants, top-feature

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