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Hell’s Kitchen

New York City’s Clinton neighborhood, often known as Hell’s Kitchen, is located on the western side of Midtown NYC. The Hudson River to the west, Eighth Avenue to the east, and 59th Street to the north are generally considered to be its official borders.

Although considerable demographic shifts have occurred, particularly from the late 1970s through the early 2000s and present day, Hell’s Kitchen has long been a ‘stronghold’ of less wealthy working-class Irish Americans. Although real estate values have remained lower than in most of Manhattan thanks to the neighborhood’s rough character, the City Planning Commission’s Plan for NYC noted in 1969 that development constraints tied to the neighborhood’s Midtown location were forcing individuals of modest means to leave.

The area has been re-innovating since the 1980s, and rents have increased dramatically as a result. Hell’s Kitchen has always been a hub for aspiring and working actors due to its proximity to Broadway theatres and the Actors Studio training institution. There have always been Hispanics and Irish Americans in the area, but now there’s now a sizable LGBTQ community and plenty of LGBTQ-friendly establishments to serve them.

Neighborhood 4 includes Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan. The New York City Police Department’s 10th and Midtown North Precincts are responsible for maintaining order in this area. Supporting Manhattan’s financial district, the neighborhood is home to important transportation, medical, and storage facilities. It is also well-known for its vibrant nightlife, which includes a wide variety of tiny, multiethnic restaurants, delicatessens, bodegas, bars, and other establishments.

The origin of the name could have been any one of several things. Davy Crockett used the term in reference to another legendary Irish neighborhood in Manhattan called Five Points. Davy Crockett supposedly said about the Five Points in 1835, “In my part of the country, when you meet an Irishman, you find a first-rate gentleman; but these are worse than savages; they are too mean to swab hell’s kitchen,” citing the Irish Cultural Society of the Garden City Area.

An online article by Kirkley Greenwell for the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association states that the name’s precise origin is unknown, but that some people believe a tenement on 54th Street was the original “Hell’s Kitchen.” Another theory proposes an infamous 39th street structure as the real origin. The name was also adopted by a local gang and watering hole.

Although real estate developers have suggested other names for the area, such as “Clinton,” “Midtown West,” or even “the Mid-West,” “Hell’s Kitchen” has been the most common moniker for the region. New York City’s use of the name “Clinton” dates back to 1959, when officials made an effort to honor the 19th-century governor of New York by connecting the neighborhood to DeWitt Clinton Park, located at 52nd Street and Eleventh Avenue.

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