Who's asking: A bookseller in a bar at 48th St. and 9th Ave., on Sunday night
"Hell's Kitchen," also known as Clinton or Midtown West, is a Manhattan neighborhood that runs roughly from 34th Street to 57th Street, and from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River. It was a desperately poor Irish neighborhood from the mid-19th century to about the mid-20th century, and the influx of Puerto Rican immigrants into the area helped inspire West Side Story, which is set there. Early residents of Hell's Kitchen were dockworkers, smugglers, prostitutes and the other fine upstanding citizens one usually found around commercial ports.
The name's origins are obscure. Davy Crockett allegedly said of the Irish immigrants in New York City, "These are worse than savages; they are too mean to swab Hell's Kitchen." "Hell's Kitchen" was a name for a London tenement district, so the name may have come from there. It may also have referred to individual buildings on 54th or 39th. It became the name of a gang that was based in the area, too.
Here in Gardiner everything is green and lovely, though it's about to thunderstorm. Dizzy is happy to be home, and so am I. I'm home for two whole days, in fact, before I head back to Boston overnight...