Right next to the Theater District, you’ll find Hells Kitchen. The neighborhood, stretching from about 34th Street to 59th Street, and west from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson has changed a lot over the years but it still struggling at times by not having the best reputation.
Hell’s Kitchen does have lots of visitors due to the pre- and post-theater crowds from nearby Broadway. The gentrification of course also affects this part of NYC which is why the neighboorhood in Manhattan becomes more and more popular.
How to get to Hell’s Kitchen
With Hell’s Kitchen being on the west side of the city, the best trains to take are the 7 Train to Hudson Yards and the ACE to 34th Street Penn Station and 42nd Street Times Square.
Top 5 Things to Do in Hell’s Kitchen
- The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center – It’s New York’s largest convention center that hosts the best events in New York City. It’s known for hosting large conventions, trade shows and exhibitions (Address: 429 11th Ave, New York, NY 10001, 7 Train to Hudson Yards).
- Intrepid Museum – The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is an American military and maritime history museum with a collection of museum ships in New York City (Address: Pier 86, W 46th St, New York, NY 10036, A Train to 42nd Street).
- Manhattan Cruise Terminal – The Manhattan Cruise Terminal, also known as the New York Passenger Ship Terminal or Port Authority Passenger Ship Terminal is a terminal for large cruise ships traveling to and from New York City all over the world (Address: Pearl St, New York, NY 10038, ATrain to 42nd Street).
- Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is a modern dance company based in New York, New York. The company was founded in 1958 by the famous choreographer and dancer Alvin Ailey.
- Hudson River Park – Hudson River Park is a 550-acre park by the Hudson River and beautifully located on the west side of Manhattan. The park runs all the way from Battery Place to W. 59th Street, ATrain to 42nd Street).
Why is Hell’s Kitchen called Hell’s Kitchen?
Hell’s Kitchen has a rough past with gangs, gangsters and so much violence that had gotten out of control at times. Gangs were fighting each other, people got murdered on the streets and residents who have been living here for decades believe that their ghosts are still haunting the neighborhood. Actions of the gangs in Hell’s Kitchen inspired West Side Story or Irish mobsters through the 1980s and of course the famous book and movie “Gangs of New York”.
You would think this past is enough to give the area the odd name. But no. The term Hell’s Kitchen in reference to New York first appeared in print on September 22, 1881, when a New York Times reporter went to a police guide to receive details of multiple murders there. He spoke about 39th Street and 10th Avenue as “Hell’s Kitchen,” and explained that the entire section was “probably the lowest and filthiest in the city.” After that, the name expanded for the surrounding streets as well. There are many versions of how the area had gotten its name. While researching, this one comes up the most.
What is Hells Kitchen famous for?
With a history that is filled with stories of gangs, murderers, violence, ghosts, streetwalkers, and speakeasies, and mysterious disappearances and gruesome crime, Hell’s Kitchen is first of all totally known for its past. It was so bad that an entire block of West 39th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues saw so much fighting it was nicknamed Battle Row.
Today, Hell’s Kitchen has long been the home of actors and arts organizations and has a large gay culture. There a quite a few luxury residential buildings in Hell’s Kitchen that oftentimes are owned or rented by Broadway staff or New Yorker businessmen and women. Hell’s Kitchen offers a great variety of local restaurants, bars and pubs and of course the beautiful Hudson River Park.
Pre- and post-theater crowds from nearby Broadway, tourists from Times Square and workers from office high-rises jam the international restaurants, bars, and pubs along with 8th and 9th avenues. Further west, along the water, Hudson River Park has landscaped walkways. Is Hell’s Kitchen in NYC safe? Yes, it totally is. Like with any other neighborhood in NYC, avoid walking alone during the night but other than that Hell’s Kitchen is totally safe.
Explore Hell’s Kitchen NYC: The Highlights
Since Hell’s Kitchen is right next to famous areas like Times Square or Broadway it is totally worth checking out when you’re in the neighborhood. Besides great restaurants, bars and events there is much more to explore than just that. These are my favorite things to do in Hell’s Kitchen NYC.
Check out an exhibition or event at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
Don’t miss out on the world’s most famous expos and events like Comic-Con, the Auto Show or the NYC Marathon Expo in November at Javits Center. At the most southern tip of Hell’s Kitchen right next to Hudson Yards, The Javits Center is a great place to go see the most exciting events. According to its website since its opening in 1986, the Javits Center is fulfilling its mission as the Marketplace for the World.
The7 Train takes you right next to the Javits Center. Make sure to head to Hudson Yards and the High Line after your visit at Javits Center.
Visit a real aircraft-carrier called Intrepid
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is one of my favorite museums in NYC. The family-friendly museum offers exhibitions and hands-on experiences. The coolest part? It’s a real aircraft-carrier called Intrepid. The museum showcases several different types of aircraft and space crafts from the Airforce and Navy. It’s a maritime museum that caters to families making it great for kids.
Hop on a cruise or visit the Manhattan Cruise Terminal
Did you know that the Manhattan Cruise Terminal handled 1.7 million passengers in 2018? The numbers are getting higher every year with passengers coming through Pier 88 and Pier 90. Famous Norwegian Cruise Line is the only cruise liner to use the Manhattan Cruise Terminal year-round, while others like Carnival, Crystal, Cunard, Holland, Princess, and Disney only travel seasonally.
Going on a cruise from NYC is a great escape to the Carribean or even to Europe. If you are interested in leaving on a cruise from New York City the Manhattan Cruise Terminal will be your go-to port. It is also fun to just come and check out the ships from the piers. The huge passengers’ ships oftentimes fit up to 5000-8000 people. They normally leave around 4:00 pm in the afternoon and get in very early in the morning around 6 am.
Dance at Ailey American Dance Theater
Hell’s Kitchen has a lot of influence by nearby Broadway. The Ailey Citigroup Theater inside the Joan Well Center for Dance hosts performances by Ailey II, Ailey Extension’s seasonal performance workshops, and occasionally other dance companies.
If you’re into dancing, try to catch a performance or even a class, when you’re in town. Their dance education training through The Ailey School for aspiring dancers is one of the most recognizable in the world. I personally love the real classes for real people at the Ailey Extension and their community outreach efforts which brings dance into communities through our Arts in Education and Ailey Camp programs.
Ailey’s home is the Joan Weill Center for Dance – New York’s largest building dedicated to dance – where students of The Ailey School train, the Company rehearses, and dancers and non-dancers alike can drop in to take classes at the Ailey Extension. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performances are held off-site at nearby New York City Center and Lincoln Center.
Don’t miss out on a class with one of the best performances.
Go for a run or walk at Hudson River Park
Chances are high that we will run into each other on the weekends at Hudson River Park. I’m either there to train for my marathons or go for a walk with my dog. The 550-acre park located right by the Hudson River runs all the way from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan to W 59th Street.
The area of the park within Hell’s Kitchen has plenty of things to do. You can hop on a sightseeing cruise here, rent a bike at Bike and Roll at Pier 84, or grab a coffee and just sit on a bench by the water. Either way, Hudson River Park is a great place in New York City that you should have on your list of things to do in Hell’s Kitchen.
Hell’s Kitchen NYC Restaurants
Restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen will offer you almost any cuisine you can probably imagine. From Bolivian, Uighur, American, Peruvian, Haitian, Venezuelan, Mexican, Japanese, Uzbek, Afghan, Thai to Cuban, and too many more to list. Due to the crowds coming in from nearby Broadway and Times Square, Hell’s Kitchen stays opens relatively late and is great to check out for a pre- or post-theater dinner.
You’ll find most restaurants along 9th Avenue. The list of the best restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen is endless. The area is famous for the special, mostly low-key cuisine.
These are my favorite restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen New York.
- Guantanamera (939 8th Ave New York, NY 10019)
- Gloria (401 W 53rd St New York, NY 10019)
- Kebab Empire (934 8th Ave New York, NY 10019)
- Vida Verde (248 W 55th St New York, NY 10019)
- Sullivan Street Bakery (533 W 47th St New York, NY 10036)
- Empanada Mama (765 9th Ave New York, NY 10019)
- Totto Ramen (248 E 52nd St, New York, NY 10022)
- Pure Thai Cookhouse (766 9th Ave #2, New York, NY 10019)
- Hell’s Kitchen (754 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019)
Nightlife in Hell’s Kitchen
Hell’s Kitchen bars offer a huge variety of upscale lounges to the dirtiest dive bars and everything in between. If you are looking for the best nightclubs in the Midtown area of Manhattan, cabarets, gay bars, Irish pubs, wine bars, sports bars, neighborhood joints or craft beer bars Hell’s Kitchen will be your place to go.
One of our favorite locations isthe Sky Room. A nightclub with indoor & outdoor seating, a roof & impressive city views. Another excellent rooftop bar is La Terrazza. Industry Bar, Flaming Saddles Saloon, and Therapy in Hell’s Kitchen are one of the most popular gay bars. It’s is an LGBTQ club with big weekend crowds. When it comes to clubs, check out Elevate, or the Retroclubnyc (70′,80′ and 90′ music). There are also multiple adult entertainment locations in Hell’s Kitchen.
At Terminal 5 in Hell’s Kitchen, you’ll get a chance to see a really good concert in NYC. “Bowery Presents” opened this place up at the end of 2007. On three floors with a capacity of 3,000 people, this space is the largest midtown venue to set up shop in more than a decade.
The best walking tours in Hell’s Kitchen
Feeling lost, or not in the mood to explore on your own? Join some of the best walking tours in Hell’s Kitchen to get the best experience of this exciting up and coming neighborhood.
Nearby Neighborhoods To Check Out
If you’re in Hell’s Kitchen, make sure to check out these nearby neighborhoods.
The 29 Best Things to Do in Midtown Manhattan
The 20 Best Things to Do in Chelsea NYC
The Best Things to do at Hudson Yards
Neighborhoods That are Similar to Hell’s Kitchen
If you have enjoyed Hell’s Kitchen, then make sure to check out these neighborhoods below.
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