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Hell's Kitchen, also known as Clinton and Midtown West, is a neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City that includes roughly the area between 34th Street and 57th Street, from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River.
The neighborhood provides transportation, hospital and warehouse infrastructure support to the Midtown Manhattan business district. Its gritty reputation had depressed real estate prices relative to much of the rest of Manhattan until the early 1990s.
Throughout its history, Hell's Kitchen has figured prominently in the New York City underworld, especially in Irish-American organized crime circles. Gangsters like Owney Madden, bootleggers like Bill Dwyer, and Westies leaders Jimmy Coonan and Mickey Featherstone were Hell's Kitchen natives. The rough and tumble days on the West Side figure prominently in Damon Runyon stories. Various Manhattan ethnic conflicts formed the basis of West Side Story.
Once a bastion of poor and working-class Irish-Americans, over the last three decades of the 20th century and into the new century, Hell's Kitchen has undergone tremendous gentrification due to its proximity to Midtown. However, this has been a long and steady process; indeed, even as long ago as the 1960s. The 1969 edition of the Plan for New York City book authored by the City Planning Commission stated that people of modest means were being driven from the area by development pressures due to the Midtown location. Today, a great number of actors have resided in the neighborhood thanks to its proximity to the Broadway theaters and The Actors Studio training school.
There are no hard and fast rules for defining a neighborhood since neighborhoods have neither formal legal standing nor do they constitute a census designated place. For the most part the neighborhood encompasses the ZIP codes 10019 and 10036. The post office for 10019 is called Radio City Station, the original name for Rockefeller Center on Sixth Avenue.
Southern boundary: Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea overlap and are often lumped together as the West Side since they support the Midtown Manhattan business district. The traditional dividing line is 34th Street. The name Chelsea Clinton was used for a newspaper and a restaurant before the time of the famous first daughter. The transition area just north of Madison Square Garden and Pennsylvania Station includes the Jacob Javits Convention Center.
Eastern boundary: The neighborhood overlaps the Times Square theater district to the east at Eighth Avenue. On its southeast border, it overlaps the Garment District also on Eighth Avenue. Here, two landmarks reside - the New Yorker hotel along with the dynamic Manhattan Center building (at the northwest corner of 34th Street and Eighth Avenue). Included in the transition area on Eighth Avenue are the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street, the Pride of Manhattan Fire Station (from which 15 firefighters died at the World Trade Center), several theaters including Studio 54, the original home of Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, and the Hearst Tower.
Northern boundary: The neighborhood edges toward the southern boundary of the Upper West Side, and 57th Street is considered by some to be the traditional northern boundary. However the neighborhood often is considered to extend to 59th Street (the southern edge of Central Park) where the avenue names change. Included in the 57th to 59th Street transition area are the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, Roosevelt Hospital, where John Lennon died in 1980 after being shot, and John Jay College.
Western boundary: The western boundary is the Hudson River.
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