There is some mystery surrounding Hell’s Kitchen and how it got its name. There’s the tale about two policemen discussing how horrendous the neighborhood was back in 1880’s. The rookie cop turned to the veteran cop and said, “this place is hell.” The veteran cop replied, “No, this is hell’s kitchen.” Some say it's named after a notorious 19th century motorcycle gang. Even the historians will tell you the neighborhood's name has dubious origins.
Regardless of how it got its name, Hell’s Kitchen is here to stay.
Hell’s Kitchen is an iconic neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan. Its boundaries are 34th and 59th streets and 8th Avenue to the Hudson River. The neighborhood has a dense urban feel with plenty of bars, bodegas, restaurants and coffee shops. It’s inhabited by an eclectic mix of young professionals, long term residents from the old days, LGBQT community and members of the performing arts community - due to the highest number of off Broadway theatres in all of New York CIty.
From the early 1800’s to the 1980’s, Hell’s Kitchen held the title for one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city. In its early history it was populated by poor working class Irish and street gangs. Riots, violence, and crime were not uncommon. During prohibition times it was said that Hell’s Kitchen had more speakeasies than children.
Several attempts of neighborhood rebranding have taken place over the years. Clinton, Midtown West, and even the short-lived Hell’s Canyon are a few of the replacement names that have been used. Hell’s Kitchen has a lot of grit and no shortage of fortitude. A trendy name change seems doubtful.
Hell’s Kitchen benefited greatly from the Times Square clean up in the 1990’s. When crime rates lowered and adult theatres and prostitution disappeared, Times Square became less sleazier. Soon after, Hell’s Kitchen changed. The days of Gangsters, Irish immigrants, and rough and tumble housing tenements are part of its storied history. They’ve been replaced with bars, bodegas, restaurants, off broadway theatres, and luxury buildings. The recent completion of Hudson Yards and the Highline extension has brought new life into Hell’s Kitchen
Low-rises, brownstones, row houses and 5 to 6 floor walk ups with studio and one bedroom apartments are common in Hell’s Kitchen. The local zoning laws from previous years kept the building heights on the lower side. Over the past decade, developers have been granted exceptions to building height zoning laws and created more modern highrise developments.
We understand that locals don’t like doing touristy things but sometimes exceptions must be made. The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is one of those exceptions. It’s not everyday that you get to walk on an aircraft carrier or tour the inside of a submarine in Manhattan. You must see this attraction at least once in your life. Especially if you like history.
Hell’s Kitchen is known for their small ethic eateries. French, Italian, Japanese, Thai and Mexican are just a few of the cuisines you’ll experience in the neighborhood. Gotham West Market brings even more international cuisines to the neighborhood. It’s a culinary complex of hand picked restaurants showcasing their best food. It's basically a food hall with mouth watering choices ranging from Udon noodles to Pho to hand made organic ice cream. Yummy!
Hudson River Park - Looking for a little piece and quiet from the Midtown chaos. Take a stroll, or roll through this miles-long stretch of Manhattan waterfront. The Highline is another touristy thing you should see at least once in your life. Try to visit during the weekday to avoid the crowds. The new extension near the westside side of Hell’s Kitchen is easy to find and will give you access to the entire High Line.
Ink 48 Hotel - A beautifully designed hotel that was once a printing press in the 1930’s. The Press Lounge is the hotel's rooftop bar and it's a great place to enjoy a signature cocktail and awesome views of the Hudson River.
What You Might See
People, and lot’s of them. They might be tourists from nearby Times Square, Midtown workers commuting, or theatre goers just walking around the neighborhood before a show. You’ll see a lot of small restaurants and bars that cater to all of those people.
You’ll see new luxury buildings mixed with the older ones. You’ill also see a lot of traffic, especially if you’re walking near the Lincoln Tunnel. Cars are always backed up waiting to cross the bridge to New Jersey.
What You Might not Know
Alicia Keys was born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen. The rough neighborhood she grew up in motivated her to reach high and achieve career success.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal, which makes its home in Hell’s Kitchen, is the largest bus terminal in the Western Hemisphere. It is considered the busiest bus terminal in the world by volume of traffic. It serves 225,000 people on a weekday and more than 65 million people a year. Pretty cool considering you don’t see that many busses rolling through Hell’s Kitchen.
What We Love
The variety of food choices and bars. From high-end to affordable, we love them all. The proximity to Broadway and the easy access to off Broadway theatres is an added bonus of the neighborhood. We love that it's only a few blocks away from the waterfront parks and bicycle paths. The transportation options to get you around the city. Especially the A/C/E trains that run along the eastern edge of the neighborhood. Most of all we love that Hell’s Kitchen still has grit. Old school New York is alive and well in this neighborhood.