NYC Neighborhood Guide
Just west of touristy Times Square is Hell’s Kitchen, a locals-only enclave with enough restaurants and nightlife to satisfy any craving. Residents here enjoy urban amenities right at their doorstep, like deliveries from diverse restaurants (Afghan to Mexican to Thai) along Ninth Avenue.
Eating options are endless, but the neighborhood’s name has nothing to do with fiery cooking. Instead, this was once home to a poor Irish community known for criminal activity. A rookie cop witnessing a street fight in the 1880s supposedly remarked, “This place is hell,” to which his veteran partner replied, “Hell is a mild climate. This is hell’s kitchen.” Decades later, clashes between Irish and Puerto Rican gangs inspired the musical West Side Story.
Despite a rough-and-tumble history, the emphasis of HK today is on “kitchen.” This foodie haven is highly desirable among actors and young professionals who embrace the buzz of gay-friendly independent restaurants and bars. Subways along Eighth Avenue easily transport you to the Upper West Side or down to Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and FiDi.
📉 Priced less than adjacent areas
🍲 Affordable, diverse dining
🏳️🌈 LGBTQ+ friendly
🏘 Community feel
💼 Walk to work in Midtown
🎉 More fun that Midtown East
Hell’s Kitchen Real Estate and Trends
Apartments in Hell’s Kitchen range from modern glass skyscrapers near the water to tenement walkups from the days when Irish immigrants worked the West Side docks, slaughterhouses, and railroads.
The neighborhood is a good value for homebuyers. In Q3 2020, the median home sale price was about $760,000, a drop of 11% from a year prior and well below the $1M median sale price in Manhattan for Q3. Expect apartments on the lower end to be in prewar walkups with tight quarters and awkward configurations.
Gentrification is in full bloom with the $20B Hudson Yards mega development just south of HK. To the north rises Billionaires’ Row. Not only has the skyline bordering Hell’s Kitchen changed, but so too has the tune of real estate agents who until recently preferred calling it Clinton, the official name. Nowadays the label Hell’s Kitchen is a selling point rather than a turn-off.
Finally, while many buildings allow pets, lack of green space in the West 40s constrains larger animals. Dog run options include Pier 84 (12 Av at 44 St) and the paved DeWitt Clinton Dog Park (11 Av at 52 St). While there are no dog runs in Central Park, 23 dog-friendly areas exist along with off-leash hours.
1 BD $760,300
2 BD $1,523,000
Average sales price based on past transactions. Last updated: 2/18/21
Pay attention to window panes, wall insulation, and other sound mitigation measures. Between gridlock around the Port Authority, traffic noise on the avenues, and nightlife sounds spilling onto the sidewalk, HK may truly be the neighborhood that doesn’t sleep.
Three acres of riverside green space will transform Pier 97 in Hudson River Park at W 57 St. A playground with water features, lawn, and the docking of an historic ship are set to open in March 2024.
—Robin, Localize real estate advisor
Transportation in Hell’s Kitchen
The farther west you live, the better walking shoes you’ll need. Plan to hoof it to 8 Av for the nearest subway, or join Citi Bike.
Subway – A/C/E along 8 Av is your best option. Express A trains stop at 59 St-Columbus Circle (A/C/B/D/1) and 42 St-Port Authority (A/C/E). An underground passageway links this 42 St station to 9 more lines at 42 St-Times Square. Local trains also stop at 50 St (C/E). Walk an avenue block east to expand your options.
Bus – The much-maligned Port Authority Midtown Terminal is a center for commuter buses to New Jersey and upstate New York. Motorcoach carriers like NJ Transit, Greyhound, and Megabus disgorge passengers here. As for city buses, residents near the water can rely on the north-south M12 and M11. Crosstown buses serve 42, 49/50, and 57 Sts.
Ferry – NY Waterway’s Midtown terminal at West 39 St (Pier 79) serves New Jersey landings from Edgewater down to Belford, including two Hoboken locations.
Bike – Dense traffic in HK can intimidate beginner cyclists, but protected lanes up 8 Av and down 9 Av and 11 Av are safe. Watch out for traffic swirling around the Port Authority and rushed commuters and inattentive tourists walking in the lane on 8 Av. Use crosstown lanes on streets 43, 44, 52, 54, and 55 to avoid congested side streets. Citi Bike stations are well positioned, but bikes quickly deplete on weekday mornings. Finally, the Hudson River Greenway along the water is a car-free amenity for cyclists and joggers.
Best Schools in Hell’s Kitchen
Families have a number of options. Elementary students living below 48 St are zoned for PS 51 Elias Howe (PK-5) while those above 48 St are zoned for PS 111 Adolph S. Ochs (PK-5). Right on 48 St (b/t 8-9 Av) is PS 212 Midtown West (PK-5), a non-zoned option school rated 8 out of 10 on GreatSchools. Be sure to read the latest on how NYC school enrollment is changing.
City Knoll Middle School is rated average as is the Professional Performing Arts High School (6-12), which is geared for middle and high schoolers pursuing careers in the arts. Alicia Keys, Britney Spears, and Claire Danes are famous alums.
Other specialized high schools in Hell’s Kitchen allow students to focus on environmental studies, hospitality management, and sports business. The public college prep Beacon High School (9-12), housed in a facility built in 2015, ranks in the top 25 of all NYC public high schools, according to U.S. News.
The Speyer Legacy School (K-8) is the most notable private school in HK. Accelerated curriculum includes chess and debate in kindergarten.
Your Perfect Day: Things to Do in Hell’s Kitchen
When it comes to drinking, dining, and dancing, Hell’s Kitchen residents don’t have to venture far.
🥖 Start the morning at Amy’s Bread, a neighborhood bakery since 1992; grab a loaf to-go or squeeze into a seat and enjoy baked goods and coffee in the back
🐕 Let your pooch loose at Pier 84 Dog Run in view of the USS Intrepid, a WWII vintage aircraft carrier that’s enjoying safe harbor in retirement as a sea, air, and space museum
🍜 Slurp away at Ippudo Westside, the nabe’s best bet for ramen (go ahead, it’s polite to slurp in Japanese culture)
🇹🇭 Savor the authentic dishes and decor at Pure Thai Cookhouse; in a neighborhood full of great Thai food, this shophouse restaurant with homemade noodles stands out
🎤 Download a discount ticket app and catch a Broadway show last minute; or skip the theater and head to piano bar and cabaret Don’t Tell Mama on Restaurant Row and belt out tunes yourself
🐟 Dine on the high end with catches from the high seas at Esca for seasonal seaside Italian fare; start with the crudo and pile on the pesci from there—grilled, stewed, or seared
🥃 Drown out neighborhood noise with a quiet drink; HK has no shortage of watering holes, but for a more intimate scene try On the Rocks (80 kinds of spirits) or Bar Centrale, hidden in a brownstone on Restaurant Row (popular among actors)
👀 See the boys in short shorts and no shirts at Boxers, a gay sports bar hot spot, or ride into Flaming Saddles Saloon for cowboy vibes and male bartenders dancing on the bartop
🎸 Rock out at Terminal 5, a tiered concert venue for up to 3,000 music fanatics
🌳 Recharge in the tranquil confines of Central Park just up 8 Av from the HK bustle; Manhattan’s largest park feels a world away
Want to live in HK?