Hell's Kitchen is a diverse and gentrifying neighborhood, filled with off-Broadway theaters, ethnic restaurants, independent shops and bakeries, and tree-lined streets filled with traditional brownstones (often used in TV and film to depict “authentic” New York City). Proximity to Midtown and to the theater district means that the neighborhood is home to many actors and young professionals in banking and finance. There is also a growing gay community and a number of gay bars and clubs. Ninth Avenue’s Restaurant Row has the city’s greatest concentration of international eateries, with a huge and always-expanding variety. The Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum — home to an aircraft carrier, a space shuttle, and a Cold War-era submarine — abuts the Hudson River on 46th Street. The Colbert Report and The Daily Show film in Hell’s Kitchen — with free tickets available for both. Top restaurants include Esca, Totto Ramen, and Amy’s Bread.
What was once a crime-ridden, gritty, and dangerous part of Manhattan filled with gang wars, drugs, and violence, is now a very hip, pricey, and safe place to live.
For many years, development in Hell's Kitchen was slowed because of zoning restrictions designed to keep the neighborhood a low-rise community of brownstones and row houses. However, over the past two decades, modern high-rises have sprouted, especially along the Hudson River, bringing luxury amenities and tremendous skyline views to the area, and making Hell’s Kitchen a unique mix of old and new New York.
The origins of the name "Hell's Kitchen," are unclear, but the first mention in print was in The New York Times in 1881, calling the area "the lowest and filthiest in the city." Historically a site of ethnic conflict between Irish and Puerto Rican gangs, Hell’s Kitchen has in recent years become far safer and much more upscale, with an influx of young professionals and members of New York’s large performing arts community. While the neighborhood remains alive at all hours of the day and night, it is no longer a section of the city to be feared. Hell’s Kitchen visually embodies the city’s evolution architecturally. Above rows of brown and red class brownstones and precarious fire escapes you can see contemporary glass towers and futuristic skylines.
Hudson River Park offers views of New Jersey, and has a jogging path along the water. The High Line elevated park is set to expand north to the area, and the Hudson River piers offer numerous sporting activities, including kayaking in the summer at Pier 96.
The Ninth Avenue Food Festival takes over a 15-block stretch of Hell’s Kitchen each May with cuisine from around the world, children’s rides, and live music. Theatre Row, on 42nd Street close to the river, houses a set of renovated performing arts spaces, with a wide variety of shows throughout the year.