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A northern look down Ninth Ave. Image via Robert Rowlett on Wikimedia Commons

 Hell’s Kitchen has come a long way from its Colonial farm days and the gang violence of the mid-2oth century that has come to define a large part of its modern history. Clinton Hill, which the neighborhood is also known as, has been rapidly evolving since the early 1990s and has become a hot spot for visitors and residents. The neighborhood is roughly located between West 57th Street and West 34th Street to the north and south, and the Hudson River and Eighth Avenue to the east and west,

The development of Hudson Yards, a $15B development project creating 18 million square feet of residential and commercial space just south of the outskirts of the neighborhood, will continue to boost Hell’s Kitchen’s growth into the future, and with it will bring new and exciting locations to visit in the neighborhood.

Here are 18 must-visit spots to check out now:

Historical Sites

Landmark Tavern

The Landmark Tavern at 626 11th Ave. has been in operation since its opening in 1868, making it one of New York City’s oldest operating bars. Patrick Henry Carley first opened his Irish saloon on the shore of the Hudson River, as 12th Avenue did not exist yet. He provided enough space in the establishment for his family to live comfortably on the second and third floors of the building. It was on this third floor that The Landmark Tavern moved its operation during the Prohibition era and continued to run its bar illegally as a speakeasy.

The bar is also said to be haunted as well. According to the stories, a Confederate soldier was either stabbed or shot in a bar fight at The Landmark Tavern and died in a bathtub on the second floor, where he occasionally knocks over books on the bookshelves today. Even more amazing, the actual bathtub in which the soldier died is still in the very same room!

Matthews-Palmer Playground

Image via Wikimedia Commons user Brianegge

Matthews-Palmer Playground, formerly May Matthews Playground, has a darker history that belies its current kid-friendly demeanor. The 45th St. playground has become a microcosm of Hell’s Kitchen as a whole and come a long way to overcome its gang-filled past.

In 1959, the park became home to historic gang murders. As Sondheim’s West Side Story played just blocks away, Salvador Agron, a member of the Puerto Rican Vampires, stabbed and killed two teenagers, both members of a rival Irish gang, The Norsemen. “The Capeman” as he would later be nicknamed, “killed because he felt like it,” and would launch a series of events that would eventually lead gangs like The Westies to run the neighborhood until the 1980s.

The playground isn’t exactly too fond of displaying its bloody and questionable history, but it is without a doubt a historical site that was home to events that have made Hell’s Kitchen what it is today.

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