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What the hell is Hell's Kitchen?

Hell's Kitchen is the New York City neighborhood located between 34th Street and 59th Street, from 8th Avenue west to the Hudson River.

In its early years, the community was primarily a working class enclave, and many residents worked on the docks and wharves along the river. There was a famous pushcart marketplace beneath the Ninth Avenue "El" south of 42nd Street. This part of the neighborhood was largely uprooted to make way for the Lincoln Tunnel, which crosses under the Hudson to New Jersey.

There are many stories of how the community got its name. This is one of the most commonly accepted versions: Two cops - a veteran and a rookie - were observing a small riot near the corner of West 39th Street and 10th Avenue (one block from Metro Baptist Church, our festival venue.) The rookie took one look at the melee and said, "This place is hell itself." "Hell is a mild climate," his wizened partner countered. "This is Hell's Kitchen."

For better than a century, Hell's Kitchen has been true to its name, and was home to organized crime outfits and gangs. The notorious gang called The Westies was based in the neighborhood in the 1980s and 1990s. An earlier gang war in the community was immortalized in the musical West Side Story.

After a period of real estate disinvestment and abandonment in the 1960s and 70s, the neighborhood was discovered by young urban professionals in the 1980s and is now perhaps the most rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in the city. With this gentrification, some started circulating a new, more genteel name for the neighborhood: "Clinton".

Today, Hell's Kitchen is facing increasing development pressures including the recently defeated stadium for the Jets and the Olympics and a proposal to develop a new high-rise business district along Eleventh Avenue.


Community Planning Board No. 4

Housing Conservation Coordinators
Housing Conservation Coordinators, Inc. (HCC) is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization based in the Hell's Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood of Manhattan to preserve and defend safe, decent and affordable housing.

Hartley House
For over 100 years, Hartley House has responded to the needs of New York Cityís Hellís Kitchen/Clinton community with programs and services for children, teens, seniors and families in an atmosphere of care and concern.

Clinton Seed Fund

For information contact,