Hell’s Kitchen has a history that’s rich with gangsters, ghosts, mysterious disappearances and speakeasies, and was considered a dangerous place to live right up until the 1980s. Though it’s now known for its theaters, chic restaurants and luxury apartments, it still retains a few secrets, many of which remain unknown to locals.
10. The Name ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ Could Have First Referred to a Tenement Building
39th between 9th and 10th Avenue today, where most of the buildings near 10th Avenue have been demolished
The story goes that in the 1880s, a New York Times reporter went to the West 30s with a police guide to get details of a multiple murder. 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. Today, not much is left at 39th Street and 10th Avenue, demolished for the on ramp to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Another famous photographer who documented the crime in Hell’s Kitchen was Weegee, who developed a close relationship to the police in order to get access to crime scenes.