Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan
|Neighborhood of Manhattan|
Looking south on Ninth Avenue from 49th Street
|Nickname(s): HK, Clinton|
|Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.|
|City||New York City|
|• Total||0.841 sq mi (2.18 km2)|
|• Density||54,000/sq mi (21,000/km2)|
|2008 figures for Hell's Kitchen|
|• Asian or Pacific Islander||6.2%|
|ZIP code||10018, 10019, 10036|
|Area code(s)||212, 917|
Hell's Kitchen, also known as Clinton and Midtown West, is a neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City, between 34th Street in the south, 59th Street in the north, Eighth Avenue in the east, and the Hudson River to the west. The area provides transport, medical, and warehouse infrastructure support to Manhattan's Midtown business district.
Once a bastion of poor and working-class Irish Americans, Hell's Kitchen's proximity to Midtown has changed it over the last three decades of the 20th century and into the new millennium. The 1969 City Planning Commission's 1969 Plan for New York City reported that development pressures related to its Midtown location were driving people of modest means from the area, and the gritty reputation that Hell's Kitchen developed afterward kept real estate prices below those of most other areas of Manhattan. Since the early 1990s, the area has been gentrifying, and rents skyrocketed. Located close to both Broadway theatres and Actors Studio training school, Hell's Kitchen has long been a home to learning and practicing actors.
- 1 Boundaries
- 2 Name
- 3 History
- 4 Parks
- 5 Culture
- 6 Transportation
- 7 Education
- 8 In popular culture
- 9 Notable residents
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 External links
"Hell's Kitchen" generally refers to the area from 34th to 59th Streets. Starting west of Eighth Avenue, city zoning regulations generally limit buildings to six stories. As a result, most of the buildings are older, and are often walk-up apartments. For the most part, the neighborhood encompasses the ZIP codes 10019 and 10036. The post office for 10019 is called Radio City Station, the original name for Rockefeller Center on Sixth Avenue.
- East: To the east, the neighborhood overlaps the Times Square Theater District to the east at Eighth Avenue. On its southeast border, it overlaps the Garment District also on Eighth Avenue. Here, two landmarks reside – the New Yorker Hotel and the dynamic Manhattan Center building (at the northwest corner of 34th Street and Eighth Avenue). Included in the transition area on Eighth Avenue are the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street, the Pride of Manhattan Fire Station (from which 15 firefighters died at the World Trade Center), several theatres including Studio 54, the original soup stand of Seinfeld's "The Soup Nazi"' and the Hearst Tower.
- North: The northern edge of Hell's Kitchen borders the southern edge of the Upper West Side. 57th Street is the traditional boundary between the two neighborhoods. However, Hell's Kitchen is often considered to extend further north to 59th Street, the southern edge of Central Park starting at Eighth Avenue, where the avenue names change; this neighborhood overlaps with the Upper West Side if this is considered to be Hell's Kitchen's northern boundary. Included in the 57th to 59th Street transition area are the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, St. Luke's–Roosevelt Hospital Center, where John Lennon died in 1980 after being shot, and John Jay College.
- South: The southern boundary is at Chelsea, but the two neighborhoods overlap and are often lumped together as the "West Side" since they support the Midtown Manhattan business district. The traditional dividing line is 34th Street. The transition area just north of Madison Square Garden and Pennsylvania Station includes the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
- West: The western border of the neighborhood is the Hudson River at the Hudson River Park and West Side Highway.
Several explanations exist for the original name. An early use of the phrase appears in a comment Davy Crockett made about another notorious Irish slum in Manhattan, Five Points. According to the Irish Cultural Society of the Garden City Area:
When, in 1835, Davy Crockett said, "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." He was referring to the Five Points.
According to an article by Kirkley Greenwell, published online by the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association:
No one can pin down the exact origin of the label, but some refer to a tenement on 54th Street as the first "Hell's Kitchen." Another explanation points to an infamous building at 39th as the true original. A gang and a local dive took the name as well.... a similar slum also existed in London and was known as Hell's Kitchen.
Local historian Mary Clark explained the name thus:
...first appeared in print on September 22, 1881 when a New York Times reporter went to the West 30s with a police guide to get details of a multiple murder there. He referred to a particularly infamous tenement at 39th Street and Tenth Avenue as "Hell's Kitchen," and said that the entire section was "probably the lowest and filthiest in the city." According to this version, 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues became known as Hell's Kitchen and the name was later expanded to the surrounding streets. Another version ascribes the name's origins to a German restaurant in the area known as Heil's Kitchen, after its proprietors. But the most common version traces it to the story of "Dutch Fred the Cop," a veteran policeman, who with his rookie partner, was watching a small riot on West 39th Street near Tenth Avenue. The rookie is supposed to have said, "This place is hell itself," to which Fred replied, "Hell's a mild climate. This is Hell's Kitchen."
Hell's Kitchen has stuck as the most-used name of the neighborhood, even though real estate developers have offered alternatives of "Clinton" and "Midtown West", or even "the Mid-West". The Clinton name, used by the municipality of New York City, originated in 1959 in an attempt to link the area to DeWitt Clinton Park at 52nd and Eleventh Avenue, named after the 19th century New York governor.
Early history and development
On the island of Manhattan as it was when Europeans first saw it, the Great Kill formed from three small streams that united near present-day Tenth Avenue and 40th Street, then wound through the low-lying Reed Valley, renowned for fish and waterfowl, to empty into the Hudson River at a deep bay on the river at the present 42nd Street. The name was retained in a tiny hamlet, Great Kill, that became a center for carriage-making, while the upland to the south and east became known as Longacre, the predecessor of Longacre Square (now Times Square).
One of the large farms of the colonial era in this neighborhood was that of Andreas Hopper and his descendants, extending from today's 48th Street nearly to 59th Street and from the river east to what is now Sixth Avenue. One of the Hopper farmhouses, built in 1752 for John Hopper the younger, stood near 53rd Street and Eleventh Avenue; christened "Rosevale" for its extensive gardens, it was the home of the War of 1812 veteran, Gen. Garrit Hopper Striker, and lasted until 1896, when it was demolished. The site was purchased for the city and naturalistically landscaped by Samuel Parsons Jr. as DeWitt Clinton Park. In 1911 New York Hospital bought a full city block largely of the Hopper property, between 54th and 55th Streets, Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues. Beyond the railroad track, projecting into the river at 54th Street, was Mott's Point, with an 18th-century Mott family house surrounded by gardens that was inhabited by members of the family until 1884 and survived until 1895.
A lone surviving structure that dates from the time this area was open farmland and suburban villas is a pre-1800s carriage house that once belonged to a villa owned by ex-Vice President and New York State governor George Clinton, now in a narrow court behind 422 West 46th Street. From 1811 until it was officially de-mapped in 1857, the diminutive Bloomingdale Square was part of the city's intended future; it extended from 53rd to 57th Streets between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. It was eliminated after the establishment of Central Park, and the name shifted to the junction of Broadway, West End Avenue, and 106th Street, now Straus Park. In 1825, the City purchased for $10 clear title to a right-of-way through John Leake Norton's[lower-alpha 1] farm, "The Hermitage", to lay out 42nd Street clear to the river. Before long, cattle ferried from Weehawken were being driven along the unpaved route to slaughterhouses on the East Side. Seventy acres of the Leake (later Norton) property, extending north from 42nd to 46th Street and from Broadway to the river, had been purchased before 1807 by John Jacob Astor and William Cutting, who held it before dividing it into building lots as the district became more suburban.
Unity with the city and deterioration
The first change that began to unite the area more closely to New York City was the construction of the Hudson River Railroad, which completed the forty miles to Peekskill on September 29, 1849, to Poughkeepsie by the end of that year, and extended to Albany in 1851. As far as 60th Street, the track ran at street grade up Eleventh Avenue, before the independent riverside roadbed commenced.
The formerly rural riverfront was transformed for industrial uses such as tanneries that could discharge their effluent into the river and ship their production by the rails. Hence the beginnings of the neighborhood of the southern part of the 22nd Ward, which would become known as Hell's Kitchen, start in the mid-19th century, when immigrants from Ireland, most of them refugees from the Great Famine, began settling on the west side of Manhattan in shantytowns along the Hudson River. Many of these immigrants found work on the docks nearby, or along the railroad that carried freight into the city along Eleventh Avenue.
After the American Civil War the population increased dramatically, as tenements were erected and increased immigration added to the neighborhood's congestion. Many in this poverty stricken area turned to gang life and the neighborhood soon became known as the "most dangerous area on the American Continent". Around the start of the 20th century, the neighborhood was controlled by gangs, including the violent Gopher Gang led by One Lung Curran and later by Owney Madden. The violence escalated during the 1920s, after Prohibition was implemented in 1919. The many warehouses in the district served as ideal distilleries for the rumrunners who controlled the illicit liquor. Gradually the earlier gangs such as the Hell's Kitchen Gang were transformed into organized crime entities around the same time that Owney Madden became one of the most powerful mobsters in New York.
After the Repeal of Prohibition, many of the organized crime elements moved into other rackets, such as illegal gambling and union shakedowns. The postwar era was characterized by a flourishing waterfront, and longshoreman work was plentiful. By the end of the 1950s, however, the implementation of containerized shipping led to the decline of the West Side piers and many longshoremen found themselves out of work. In addition, the construction of the Lincoln Tunnel had split Hell's Kitchen in the Lincoln Tunnel ramp area at 39th Street, and anything southwest of 39th Street and Tenth Avenue was virtually condemned.
In 1959, an aborted rumble between rival Irish and Puerto Rican gangs led to the notorious "Capeman" murders in which two innocent teenagers were killed. By 1965, Hell's Kitchen was the home base of the Westies, a deeply violent Irish American crew aligned with the Gambino crime family. It was not until the early 1980s that widespread gentrification began to alter the demographics of the longtime working-class Irish American neighborhood. The 1980s also saw an end to the Westies' reign of terror, when the gang lost all of its power after the RICO convictions of most of its principals in 1986.
First wave of gentrification
Special Clinton zoning district
Although the neighborhood is immediately west of New York's main business district, development lagged for more than 30 years because of strict zoning rules in a Special Clinton District designed to protect the neighborhood's residents and its low-rise character.
In part to qualify for federal aid, New York developed a comprehensive Plan for New York City in 1969–70. For Hell's Kitchen, the master plan called for two to three thousand hotel rooms, 25,000 apartments, 25,000,000 square feet (2,300,000 m2) of office space, a new super liner terminal, a subway along 48th Street, and a convention center to replace what the plan described as "blocks of antiquated and deteriorating structures of every sort." However, outrage at the massive residential displacement that this development project would have caused, and the failure of the City to complete any replacement housing, led to opposition to the first project – a new convention center to replace the New York Coliseum.
To forestall the negative impacts of the master plan, the Clinton Planning Council and Daniel Gutman, their environmental planner, proposed that the convention center and all major development be located south of 42nd Street.
Nevertheless, in 1973 the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was approved for a 44th Street site that would replace piers 84 and 86. In exchange the City abandoned the 1969–70 master plan and gave the neighborhood a special zoning district to restrict further redevelopment. Since then, new development has filled in the many empty lots and rejunvinated existing buildings. However, in 1978, when the city could not afford to construct the 44th Street convention center, the Mayor and Governor chose the rail yard site originally proposed by the community. Major office and residential development south of 42nd Street went unrealized until the unrelated Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project started construction much later.
The SCD was originally split into four areas:
- Preservation Area: 43rd to 56th Streets between Eighth and Tenth Avenues. R-7 density, 6-story height limit on new buildings, suggested average apartment size of two bedrooms (this was a response to the fact that between 1960 and 1970 developers had torn down 2,300 family-sized units and replaced them with 1,500 smaller units).
- Perimeter Area: Eighth Avenue, 42nd and 57th Streets. Bulkier development permitted to counterbalance the downzoning in the preservation area.
- Mixed Use Area: Tenth and Eleventh Avenues between 43rd and 50th Streets. Mixed residential and manufacturing. New residential development only permitted in conjunction with manufacturing areas. Later combined into "Other Areas".
- Other Areas: West of Eleventh Avenue. Industrial and waterfront uses. Later combined with "Mixed Use Area"
Special permits are required for all demolition and construction in the SCD, including demolition of "any sound housing in the District" and any rehabilitation that increases the number of dwellings in a structure. In the original provisions. no building could be demolished unless it was unsound. New developments, conversions, or alterations that create new units or zero bedroom units must contain at least 20% two bedroom apartments with a minimum room size of 168 square feet (16 m2). Alterations that reduce the percentage of two-bedroom units are not permitted unless the resulting building meets the 20% two-bedroom requirement. Finally, building height in the Preservation Area cannot exceed 66 feet (20 m) or seven stories, whichever is less.
As the gentrification pace increased, there were numerous reports of problems between landlords and tenants. The most extreme example was the eight-story Windermere complex at the southwest corner of Ninth Avenue and 57th Street. Built in 1881, it is the second-oldest large apartment house in Manhattan.
In 1980, the then-owner, Alan B. Weissman, tried to empty the building of its tenants. According to former tenants and court papers, rooms were ransacked, doors were ripped out, prostitutes were moved in, and tenants received death threats in the campaign to empty the building. All the major New York newspapers covered the trials that sent the Windermere's managers to jail. Although the building's landlord, Alan B. Weissman, was never linked to the harassment, he and his wife made top billing in the 1985 edition of The Village Voice annual list, "The Dirty Dozen: New York's Worst Landlords." Most of the tenants eventually settled and moved out of the building. As of May 2006, seven tenants remained and court orders protecting the tenants and the building allowed it to remain in derelict condition even as the surrounding neighborhood was experiencing a dramatic burst of demolition and redevelopment. Finally, in September 2007, the fire department evacuated those remaining seven residents from the building, citing dangerous conditions, and padlocked the front door. In 2008 the New York Supreme Court ruled that the owners of the building, who include the TOA Construction Corporation of Japan, must repair it.
Failed rezoning attempts
By the 1980s, though, the area was in decline. Both the state and the city hoped that the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center would renew the area. Hotels, restaurants, apartment buildings, and television studios were proposed. One proposal included apartments and hotels on a 30 acres (12 ha) pier jutting out onto Hudson River, which also included a marina, ferry slip, stores, restaurants, and a performing arts center. At Ninth Avenue and 33rd Street, a 32-story office tower would be built. Hotels, apartment buildings, and a Madison Square Garden would be built over the tracks west of Pennsylvania Station. North of the Javits Center, a "Television City" would be developed by Larry Silverstein in conjunction with NBC.
Because the zoning regulations at the time did not allow any buildings above 66 feet (20 m) or seven stories, whichever was less, none of these plans were feasible. Even if the buildings were erected, there was very little public transit in the area; they would be extremely far from Penn Station; and none of the proposals for a quick link to Penn Station were viable. No changes to the zoning policy happened until 1990, when the city rezoned a small segment of 11th Avenue near the Javits Center. In 1993, part of 9th Avenue between 35th and 41st Streets was also rezoned. However, neither of these rezonings was particularly significant, as most of the area was still zoned as a manufacturing district with low-rise apartment buildings.
By the early 1990s, there was a recession, which scuttled plans for rezoning and severely reduced the amount of development in the area. After the recession was over, developers invested in areas like Times Square, eastern Hell's Kitchen, and Chelsea, but mostly skipped the Far West Side.
September 11, 2001
While almost all fire stations in Manhattan lost firefighters in the September 11 attacks, the station with the greatest loss of firefighters was Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 at 48th Street and Eighth Avenue, which lost 15 firefighters. Given its proximity to Midtown, the station had specialized in skyscraper fires and rescues and, in 2007, was the second busiest firehouse in New York City, with 9,685 runs between the two companies. Its patch reads "Pride of Midtown" and "Never Missed a Performance". Memorials dot the station's exterior walls and a granite memorial is in a park to its north. Ladder 21, the "Pride of Hell's Kitchen", located on 38th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, and stationed with Engine 34, lost 7 firefighters on September 11. In addition, on September 11, Engine 26 was temporarily stationed with Engine 34/Ladder 21 and lost many firefighters themselves.
Larry Silverstein made part of his fortune that eventually earned him the lease for both World Trade Centers by building and managing buildings in the neighborhood. Silverstein's architect David Childs designed the Time Warner Center and Worldwide Plaza buildings in the area before designing the new One World Trade Center.
Redevelopment and second wave of gentrification
Hell's Kitchen has become an increasingly upscale neighborhood of affluent young professionals as well as residents from the "old days", with rents in the neighborhood having increased dramatically above the average in Manhattan. It has also acquired a large and diverse community as residents have moved north from Chelsea. Zoning has long restricted the extension of Midtown Manhattan's skyscraper development into Hell's Kitchen. The David Childs and Frank Williams designed Worldwide Plaza established a beachhead when it was built in 1989 at the former Madison Square Garden site, a full city block between 49th and 50th Streets and between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. The city under Michael Bloomberg relaxed zoning all over the city in the wake of the September 11 attacks. This led to a real-estate building boom with Hell's Kitchen getting some of the biggest projects in the city, including the Hearst Tower at 56th Street and Eighth Avenue. An indication of how fast real estate prices rose in the neighborhood was a 2004 transaction involving the Howard Johnson's Motel at 52nd and Eighth Avenue. In June, Vikram Chatwal's Hampshire Hotel Group bought the motel and adjoining SIR (Studio Instrument Rental) building for $9 million. In August, they sold the property to Elad Properties for about $43 million. Elad, which formerly owned the Plaza Hotel, is in the process of building The Link, a luxury 44-story building.
The most prominent real estate project in the area, the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project—a mixed-use real estate development by Related Companies and Oxford Properties—is expected to consist of 16 skyscrapers containing more than 12,700,000 square feet (1,180,000 m2) of new office, residential, and retail space. Among its components will be an extension of the IRT Flushing Line, serving the 7 <7> trains, to the 34th Street – Hudson Yards station. This new station opened on September 13, 2015, at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, and will serve a renovation of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, six million square feet (560,000 m2) of commercial office space, a 750,000-square-foot (70,000 m2) retail center with two levels of restaurants, cafes, markets and bars, a hotel, a cultural space, about 5,000 residences, a 750-seat school, and 14 acres (5.7 ha) of public open space. Hudson Yards officially broke ground on December 4, 2012, with the first tower, an 895-foot (273 m) office building in the southeast corner of the site, expected to be complete in 2016.
Hell's Kitchen's side streets are mostly lined with trees. The neighborhood does not have many parks or recreational areas, though smaller plots have been converted into green spaces.
The Clinton Community Garden, a neighborhood garden, is a result of the actors living in the area. Since they mostly work at night in the local theatres, they took time to create a garden in what was then a rubble-strewn lot. Eventually it contributed to the area's gentrification.
Hell's Kitchen's gritty reputation had made its housing prices lower than elsewhere in Manhattan. Given the lower costs in the past and its proximity to Broadway theatres, the neighborhood is a haven for aspiring actors. Many famous actors and entertainers have resided there, including Burt Reynolds, Rip Torn, Bob Hope, Charlton Heston, James Dean, Madonna, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Alicia Keys, John Michael Bolger, and Sylvester Stallone. This is due in large part to the Actors Studio on West 44th at which Lee Strasberg taught and developed method acting.
With the opening of the original Improv by Budd Friedman in 1963, the club became a hangout for singers to perform but quickly attracted comedians, as well, turning it into the reigning comedy club of its time. Once located near West 44th Street and Ninth Avenue, it has since shuttered, replaced by a restaurant.
Manhattan Plaza at 42nd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues was built in the 1970s to house artists. It consists of two 46-story towers with 70 percent of the apartments set aside for performing artists. The Actors' Temple and Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church with its Actors' Chapel also testify to the long-time presence of show business people.
The neighborhood is also home to a number of broadcast and music-recording studios, including the CBS Broadcast Center at 524 West 57th Street, also the home of Black Entertainment Television's 106 & Park show; the former Sony Music Studios at 460 West 54th Street, which closed in 2007; Manhattan Center Studios at 311 West 34th Street; and Right Track Recording's Studio A509 orchestral recording facility at West 38th Street and Tenth Avenue. The syndicated Montel Williams Show is also taped at the Unitel Studios, 433 West 53rd Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.
The Comedy Central satirical program The Daily Show has taped in Hell's Kitchen since its debut. In 2005, it moved from its quarters at 54th Street and Tenth Avenue to a new studio in the neighborhood, at 733 Eleventh Avenue, between 51st and 52nd Streets. The 54th and 10th location was used for The Colbert Report throughout its entire run from 2005 until 2014. As of 2015 the studio is used for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, following Stephen Colbert's departure from Comedy Central. Next door to at 511 W. 54th St. is Ars Nova theater, home to emerging artists Joe Iconis and breakout star Jesse Eisenberg, among others.
The headquarters of Troma studios is located in Hell's Kitchen. The Baryshnikov Arts Center opened at 37 Arts on 37th Street in 2005, the Orchestra of St. Luke's opened the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in the same building in 2011. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater opened at 55th Street and Ninth Avenue in 2006.
Ninth Avenue is noted for its many ethnic restaurants. The Ninth Avenue Association's International Food Festival, stretches through the Kitchen from 37th to 57th Streets every May, usually on the third weekend of the month. It has been going on since 1974 and is one of the oldest street fairs in the city. There are Caribbean, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Irish, Mexican, and Thai restaurants as well as multiple Afghan, Argentine, Ethiopian, Peruvian, Turkish, Indian, Pakistani, and Vietnamese restaurants. Due to the abundance of restaurants, Restaurant Row is located on West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.
The Lincoln Tunnel connects New York City to New Jersey. Parking lots dot the neighborhood, but are dwindling in quantity as developments are being built. Eleventh Avenue is lined with car dealerships, many of which claim to have the highest volume among all dealerships for their brands in the country.
The massive Port Authority Bus Terminal is between 40th and 42nd Streets and Eighth and Ninth Avenues. Several New York City Bus routes (such as the M11, M12, M31, M34 SBS, M42, M50) also service the area.
Many of the horse-drawn carriages from Central Park stay in stables just off the West Side Highway. It is not uncommon to hear the sound of horses in the neighborhood. There have been calls for banning horse-drawn carriages, especially from Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio following a handful of collisions between cars and carriages. The carriage horses live in historic stables originally built in the 19th century, but today boast the latest in barn design, such as fans, misting systems, box stalls, and state-of-the-art sprinkler systems. As horses always have in densely populated urban areas, the carriage horses live upstairs in their stables while the carriages are parked below on the ground floor.
Cruise ships frequently dock at the New York Passenger Ship Terminal in the 48th to 52nd piers called Piers 88, 90, 92. Cruise ship horns are a common sound in the neighborhood. Several French restaurants opened on West 51st Street to accommodate traffic from the French Line. The piers originally built in 1930 are now considered small, and some cruise traffic uses other locations. Other ship operations in the neighborhood include Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises at West 42nd and the NY Waterway ferry service.
Hell's Kitchen begins northwest of Penn Station. Amtrak trains going into the station run along a sunken corridor west of Tenth Avenue, which feeds into the Freedom Tunnel; it is used by approximately thirty trains daily. During the post-9/11 building boom, apartment houses have been built over sections of the train tracks.
Hell's Kitchen is bounded on the east by the New York City Subway's IND Eighth Avenue Line (A C E trains). The MTA built the 7 Subway Extension (7 <7> trains) for the aforementioned Hudson Yards development. The extension to 34th Street – Hudson Yards opened on September 13, 2015, making the IRT Flushing Line the westernmost New York City Subway line within Midtown.
In popular culture
- The Marvel Comics superhero Daredevil (Matt Murdock), born and raised in Hell's Kitchen, resides in, and intermittently operates his law office out of, the neighborhood.
- Jessica Jones, another Marvel superhero, also hails from Hell's Kitchen.
- Within the southern opening of the Freedom Tunnel, the former "shantytowns" constructed by homeless people, now cleared, gave rise to the urban legend of "mole people", as seen in the documentary Dark Days and in Jennifer Toth's book The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York.
- Nero Wolfe (1934), series of novels and short stories
- The Fountainhead (1943), novel by Ayn Rand – the character Gail Wynand grows up in Hell's Kitchen, which features as the symbolic site of a building he orders to be made.
- Route 66 (1960–63), TV show – Buz Murdock, one of the lead characters, grew up in Hell's Kitchen.
- The Fortunate Pilgrim (1964), novel by Mario Puzo
- "New York City" (1989), song by The Cult
- State of Grace (1990), film by Phil Joanou
- American Psycho (1991), novel by Bret Easton Ellis
- Alone in the Dark 2 (1993), by Infogrames
- Devil's Heaven (1995), novel by Thomas Adcock
- Sleepers (1995), novel by Lorenzo Carcaterra, and Sleepers, 1996 film
- "Hell's Kitchen" (1997), song by Dream Theater
- Everybody Dies (1998), novel by Lawrence Block
- Bringing Out the Dead (1999), film by Martin Scorsese
- Deus Ex (2000), video game by Ion Storm
- Cosmopolis (2003), novel by Don DeLillo
- In America (2003) by Jim Sheridan
- Mafia Summer (2005), novel by E. Duke Vincent
- The Power of the Dog (2005), crime/thriller novel by Don Winslow
- Jackson Steeg series novels (2006–09) by Ira Berkowitz
- Shamrock Alley (2009), novel by Ronald Malfi
- Run for Your Life (2009), novel by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
- The Spy (2010), novel by Clive Cussler
- Public Morals (2015), TV show
Notable current and former residents of Hell's Kitchen include:
- Carmelo Anthony, basketball player
- Benjamin Appel (1907–1977), crime novelist
- Jake T. Austin, actor
- Lewis Black, comic
- Stephen Blackehart, actor
- David Blaine, illusionist and endurance artist, lived in Hell's Kitchen for several years.
- Anthony Bourdain, chef and author
- James J. Braddock ("Cinderella Man"), boxer, lived on West 48th Street
- James Cagney, actor, was raised in Hell's Kitchen but was born in Yorkville
- George Cain (1943–2010), author of Blueschild Baby.
- Lorenzo Carcaterra, author, was born and raised in Hell's Kitchen. The neighborhood is featured in his autobiographical story "A Safe Place" as well as the novel and later film Sleepers.
- Vanessa Carlton (born 1980), singer-songwriter
- Paul Cavonis, actor, was born and raised in Hell's Kitchen
- Chevy Chase, actor and comedian
- Richard Christy, comedian, radio personality, and musician
- Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll, mobster
- Hugh E. Conway, economist
- James Coonan, mobster
- Celia Cruz, singer, lived on West 55th Street
- Edward Cummiskey, mobster
- Robert Davi, actor
- Larry David (born 1947), actor, producer of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
- Robert De Niro, actor
- Tom Devaney, mobster
- Bill Dwyer, mobster
- Donald Faison, actor
- Alice Faye, actress
- Mickey Featherstone, mobster
- Sutton Foster, stage actor
- Robert Fripp, musician
- Zach Galligan, actor
- Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan
- John Goodman, actor, lived on Ninth Avenue
- James Gunn, author and filmmaker
- Tom Hanks, actor, had an apartment in Hell's Kitchen in the late 1970s/early '80s.
- Charlton Heston, actor, worked as a model in Hell's Kitchen from 1944 to 1947.
- Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind, musician
- Alicia Keys (born 1981), singer and pianist
- Kenny Kramer (born 1943), comedian, lived in a Hell's Kitchen apartment across the hall from Larry David and became the inspiration for the Cosmo Kramer character on Seinfeld.
- Reichen Lehmkuhl, winner of The Amazing Race and star of The A-List: New York
- Mark LoMonaco, professional wrestler, known as Bubba Ray Dudley
- Henrik Lundqvist, hockey player and New York Rangers goaltender, played in the NHL
- Owney Madden, mobster
- George Maharis, actor, lived on West 49th
- Mary "Typhoid Mary" Mallon shared an apartment in Hell's Kitchen with her boyfriend between jobs as a cook during the 1900s
- Eddie McGrath, mobster
- Frank Miller, writer and comic book artist
- Brian Mullen (born 1962), hockey player, played in the NHL for the Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders.
- Joe Mullen (born 1957), hockey player, played in the NHL for the St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins from 1980–1997, winning three Stanley Cups.
- Joakim Noah, basketball player
- Graham Norton, comedian, owns property on Tenth Avenue
- Paul O'Neill (born 1956), producer and founder of Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Jerry Orbach (1935–2004), actor. Kept an apartment on Eighth Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets.
- Tony Orlando, singer
- Ilka Tanya Payán (1943–1996), actress and AIDS activist
- Josh Peck, actor, was born and raised in Hell's Kitchen.
- Mario Puzo (1920–1999), author of The Godfather
- George Raft (1901–1980), actor
- Andrew Rannells, actor
- John Reed, author
- Tim Rose, musician, lived on West 46th Street, Restaurant Row, in Hell's Kitchen for a decade or more in the 1980s and 90s, and later referred to it as "skid row" in a song called "Because You're Rich."
- Mickey Rourke (born 1953), actor
- Kevin Spacey, actor
- Mickey Spillane, mobster
- Sylvester Stallone, actor Born and raised in area.
- Linards Tauns, Latvian modernist poet and spiritual leader of Hell's Kitchen group of immigrant Latvian poets.
- William M. "Boss" Tweed, political figure, lived at West 51st Street.
- Lisa Velez of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, singer
- Thomas Wagner a.k.a. "The Cadillac Man" (born 1949), author
- Matt Wiese, professional wrestler, known as Horshu or Luther Reigns
- Bruce Willis, actor, lived in the West 40s between Ninth and Tenth Avenues
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