March 31, 2016

Things to Do, Eat, and See in the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood!

A neighborhood once infamous for its gritty, hardscrabble nature, the Hell's Kitchen of today is known for skyrocketing rents, luxury developments, the Javits Convention Center, a thriving nightlife, and a multitude of restaurants with varying cuisines.

by Nicole Haddad photographer Nicole Haddad

A neighborhood once infamous for its gritty, hardscrabble nature, the Hell's Kitchen of today is known for skyrocketing rents, luxury developments, the Javits Convention Center, a thriving nightlife, and a multitude of restaurants with varying cuisines. Also called Clinton, the neighborhood runs from 34th Street north to 59th Street, and from Eighth Avenue west to the Hudson River. Irish-American gangs once controlled the area—including the Gopher Gang at the turn of the 20th century and the Westies, who took over in the 1960s. In 1986, convictions of several of the Westies leaders saw the power of the gang begin to dwindle. By the early '90s, with the city's push for redevelopment, things started to take an upturn. The neighborhood's proximity to the Theater District—and affordable housing, both recently built and existing—drew in a community of actors, entertainers, and other working artists.

Strict zoning rules, designed to protect the area's low-rise character, kept Hell's Kitchen comparatively stagnant for another decade. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the city relaxed the area's zoning laws, starting a building boom that continues today. Interior designer John Douglas Eason, who currently lives in the luxury Silver Towers, echoes the sentiments of many recent transplants. "I found myself drawn to the buildings' sophisticated modern design, white-glove service, and the incredible views afforded by the tall, slender towers. In 1988, it was unthinkable to build these kinds of buildings here. While I am sure the best is still yet to come, the current combination of Midtown centrality, theater access, ever-growing dining options, and sophisticated luxury buildings is hard to pass up."

Rumor has it that in 1919, this dive bar was a speakeasy.
Rumor has it that in 1919, this dive bar was a speakeasy.

GETTING THERE Take the A, C, or E trains to either 34th Street - Penn Station or 42nd Street - Port Authority Bus Terminal. You can also take the E and C trains to 50th Street, where the A also stops part-time..

MARKETS Visit Gotham West Market, a hip spot to find artisanal food purveyors open late (11pm on weekdays), which even includes a Blue Bottle Coffee bar and a bike shop under its roof. The best part? You can lease a full-service, luxury apartment above the market. The Hell's Kitchen Flea Market (on West 39th Street and Ninth Avenue) opens on weekends and offers a fun day of shopping for jewelry, antiques, and more.

NIGHTLIFE Hell's Kitchen's gay scene has been on fire for the past decade with hotspots ranging from The Out NYC's XL Nightclub, to Therapy, Posh, Industry, Ninth Avenue Saloon, and Flaming Saddles.

ATTRACTIONS The Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum is situated on the former aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid, which is moored on the Hudson River at Pier 86. Other exhibits include the Concorde plane, which once crossed the Atlantic in record-breaking time.

GOOD EATS Hell's Kitchen is full of great restaurants, but some of our favorites include Barbetta, Larb Ubol, 44&X, Bocca di Bacco, Danji, ESCA (Chef Mario Batali is part owner), and Etcetera Etcetera. For sports fanatics, Clyde Frazier's Wine and Dine has 42 flat-screen TVs guaranteed to keep the most devoted of fans happy.

The hip lobby of Yotel.
The hip lobby of Yotel.

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