When you search on line for Webster Apartments, one of the top listings is on Yelp, with the headline “The Webster Apartments – Hell’s Kitchen.” We must admit that it isn’t our favorite description of our lovely neighborhood. So we thought a little history might be called for.
New York is so big and so diverse that saying “I live in Manhattan” doesn’t tell you much. When you ask a New Yorker “Where do you live?” she will tell you her neighborhood, e.g., “The Village, “Chelsea,” “Greenpoint,” or “Kew Gardens.” “Hell’s Kitchen” is the old name for the neighborhood between 34th Street and 59th Street, from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River. The name is rarely used now…except, it seems, on Yelp!
Hell’s Kitchen was once a rough and tumble neighborhood. The most common version of the origin of the name refers to the story of Dutch Fred the Cop, a policeman who, with his partner, was watching a small riot on West 39th Street near Tenth Avenue. His partner said, “This place is hell itself!” to which Fred replied, “Hell’s a mild climate. This is Hell’s Kitchen.”
Does the name “Hell’s Kitchen” still fit our neighborhood? Absolutely not!! We have experienced tremendous gentrification and accompanying high rents over the past ten years.
Our neighborhood is also called “Clinton” and the area to our west has been newly named the “Hudson Yards.”
But my favorite answer to the question “Where do you live?” is “The Webster Apartments on 34th Street. I just love it there!”