Hell’s Kitchen: A Neighborhood of Many Names
Hell’s Kitchen is a neighborhood in Manhattan known for its history, gourmet food scene, and entertainment. Its different names have become synonymous with the area, reflecting its unique past and present identities. This article explores the origins and meanings of the different nicknames of Hell’s Kitchen.
Hell’s Kitchen’s name dates back to the late 19th century when street gangs fought in the neighborhood streets. A retired police officer, George Carroll, compared the area to the “devil’s boiling pot,” where bad souls were cooked. The name stuck, and it became a term used to describe the neighborhood’s rough and ready lifestyle.
In the 20th century, the neighborhood’s name was officially changed to Clinton, commemorating the 18th-century Governor of New York, DeWitt Clinton. The change was to distance the area from its history of gang activity and crime.
As the neighborhood became more upscale, some New Yorkers referred to Hell’s Kitchen as “Midtown West.” It reflects the area’s business and corporate nature and attempted to rebrand the neighborhood as desirable and upscale.
Little Barcelona is a lesser-known nickname derived from the numerous Spanish tapas bars and restaurants that have opened up throughout the years. The local Spanish cuisine has become a fixture of the neighborhood, and in some circles, it’s referred to as “Little Barcelona” to reflect the Spanish culture.
Another nickname is “The Deuce,” referring to West 42nd Street, the entertainment district that runs through the neighborhood. It was synonymous with Times Square’s gritty, neon-lit adult entertainment scene.
Before becoming Hell’s Kitchen, the neighborhood was known as the Tenderloin district in the late 19th century. The Tenderloin was known for its brothels, gambling dens, and saloons.
Hell’s Forty Acres
“Hell’s Forty Acres” was a name used to describe a specific area within Hell’s Kitchen in the late 19th century. It was an area of extreme poverty, where tenement housing was prevalent. It was also a hotspot for Irish immigrant gangs.
The variety of nicknames for Hell’s Kitchen illustrates the different past and present identities of the area. However, whatever name you use, Hell’s Kitchen remains an exciting and vibrant neighborhood, filled with history, culture, and entertainment.