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HKNA

History of Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood:


Even the rowdiest of neighborhoods can be reformed, however. The 1930s brought the destruction of some of the worst tenements, and the surface railroad tracks that had given 11th its reputation as Death Avenue were moved to a safer location. The Ninth Avenue Elevated train, which had blocked out the sunshine for generations, was dismantled as well. Attracted by its easy access to the Theater District, actors moved into Hell's Kitchen. Off-Broadway theaters flourished, and the Actors Studio on West 44th Street fostered stars like Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe. Residents took control of their blocks, transforming vacant lots into parks and driving out hoodlums. By the end of the 1950s developers wanted a more respectable identity for the neighborhood. The city planning committee finally rejected the infamous Hell's Kitchen designation in favor of a name resurrected from the past: Clinton, after former mayor and governor DeWitt Clinton Present-Day Hell's Kitchen.
These days Hell's Kitchen is free from gang wars, but it faces a new foe: gentrification. Neighboring districts like Chelsea and the Upper West Side have become magnets for wealthy young professionals in recent years. Hell's Kitchen lies in between, desperately fighting to hold onto its original working-class character.Over the years the Irish and German population has made room for Italians, Greeks, Eastern Europeans, Puerto Ricans, Peruvians and Ecuadorians, among others. This diversity is reflected in the local businesses, particularly in the numerous restaurants. A century ago vendors sold an array of foods from pushcarts along the streets; today the abundance and variety of food offered is a continuing tradition. Known for its ethnic cuisine, the area attracts hungry theater-goers, particularly along "Restaurant Row" on West 46th Street. Ninth Avenue, the heart of the neighborhood, is known for its annual International Food Festival in May, when twenty blocks are traffic free and filled instead with stands selling delicious fare from all over the world.With its lively ethnic character and old neighborhood feel, Hell's Kitchen is getting hotter all the time. Trendy New Yorkers hail Clinton as an up-and-coming neighborhood, safer and more attractive than ever. Even with this new popularity, however, many locals take pride in the rough-and-tumble past, remaining loyal to a neighborhood that they still call Hell's Kitchen.

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