Ask someone about life in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1950’s and it might just sound like Hell. They might talk about the Westies, the Irish gang that ruled the streets. They might talk about the gritty tenements and ever present ethnic conflicts. It’s no wonder where the area got its name.
Today the area is a home for actors, a craving for foodies and a passageway for commuters. Over the past 50 years the area has made steps towards gentrification. The neighborhood, also known as Clinton or Midtown West, spans from 34th Street to 59th Street from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River. Modern skyscrapers stand juxtaposed with old brick buildings, creating a skyline as diverse as its inhabitants.
The once gritty streets are now lined with trees and cozy apartments. Specialty restaurants, rows of them, welcome visitors along Ninth Avenue. On weekends, collectors flock to 39th Street for the flea market. There, a hodgepodge of vendors spread out along Ninth and Tenth Avenues for the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market.
Whether coming to Hell’s Kitchen for the restaurants, the shopping or the theatre, any visitor will tell you it is far from its namesake.