While neighboring Times Square has become relatively polished, the Midtown West district known more familiarly as Hell's Kitchen still retains the gritty charm that has made it infamous. The neighborhood officially called Clinton covers the grid west of Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River, from 34th to 59th Streets. Named for former New York politician DeWitt Clinton and his namesake park on 52nd Street, race riots and gang violence led to the neighborhood's nickname "Hell's Kitchen" -- and the name has stuck even as the nabe has gentrifed.
The rowdy neighborhood began reforming in the 1930s, when the worst of the tenements were torn down and the Ninth Avenue Elevated train that blocked the sunlight was removed. Clinton's low rise residential buildings are now adjacent to new high-rise condominiums, trendy bars and upscale restaurants. Locals have long feared that this rapid development will force out lower income residents and kill the neighborhood's character, but strict zoning rules have been put into place to preserve Clinton's identity.
Since much of the neighborhood is a five to 10-minute walk from the Eighth Avenue A, C and E subway lines, the area enjoys a somewhat isolated feel that keeps many tourists away. It's pretty easy to hail a cab, and residents have their choice of nearby Central Park or Hudson River Park when looking for a green space to unwind in. There are an array of eclectic Off and Off-Off-Broadway theaters about, and 46th Street's Restaurant Row boasts a lineup of cozy eateries and multinational noshes. New subway stops are being planned to meet the demands of the growing population, and may even include a station at Javits Convention Center on Eleventh Avenue and 34th Street as part of the extension of the 7 line.
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