I started walking the most eastern part of Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen on the hottest day of the year with the humidity bearing down on me. I only got through between West 43rd to West 48th Streets on the first day. The weather was unbearable for walking. I was able to to relax at Hell’s Kitchen Park on the corner of West 48th Street and 10th Avenue under the shade trees to catch my breathe. It was a difficult walk that afternoon.
What I found was that as you get closer to 12th Avenue, it is mostly parking lots and warehouses with a few residences and restaurants scattered about below West 50th Street. There is not much in the way of creative architecture or interesting shops. The one thing I did notice was the amount of tagging on all the buildings. I have not seen this much graffiti since the early 1980’s around the City but am glad that it has not hit the subway cars yet. It seems to be not just on the empty buildings but the ones with lots of full wall space.
On the weekends, this area of the City is really empty and quiet as tourist spots like the Intrepid and the Circle Line start to reopen. Riverside Park is getting busier as residents are getting out now more with COVID lifts and mask requirements softening. It makes it a lot easier to be outside in this heat. The humidity over the last few days was a killer and that is why I only lasted a few blocks on my first day back in the neighborhood.
I started my walk on West 43rd Street crossing over from West 42nd by the Hudson River. The lower part of the edge of Hell’s Kitchen has changed dramatically since the 1990’s when I used to walk around the neighborhood. There has been a lot of new construction with many new automotive dealers opening showrooms in the neighborhood and then the extension of Riverside Park.
Even though it is mostly larger buildings, here and there on each block are historical spots, small businesses and pocket parks and gardens that should not be missed. Take your time to walk the streets as you will not see too many people until you reach 10th Avenue.
Tucked in between all the commercial buildings on West 43rd Street is the FDNY Rescue One Building, who I see all over the City. It is one of the five specialized Rescue companies with the FDNY that require specialized equipment and training. The Company was organized in 1915 . In 2005, the section of West 43rd Street was named Terence S. Hatton Way (Wiki).
The Rescue One Building at 530 West 43rd Street
Captain Terence S. Hatton
Terence S. Hatton was the Captain of the FDNY Rescue Company One and one of the most decorated and dedicated fire fighters in the FDNY. He died when the North Tower collapsed on September 11th, 2001 (911 Memorial).
As I walked back down West 43rd Street rather quickly on my way around the corner to West 44th Street. Similar to West 43rd Street, the street was mostly larger commercial buildings with the exception of a new residential building at 604 West 44th Street. This unique building stood out amongst the cookie cutter buildings on the rest of the block.
The building has a contemporary look to it that takes up most of the corner at 11th Avenue with its unusual windows and dark appearance.
West 45th Street was filled with parking lots and warehouse buildings and there was not much to look at except some interesting ‘tagging’ on the building that seemed to line the buildings in the lower part of the neighborhood from 11th to 12th Avenues.
When I reached West 46th Street, I passed the Landmark Tavern again at 626 11th Avenue that was empty outside due to the heat. It was opened by Patrick Henry Carly in 1868 and has been a staple since. It is one of the oldest continuing restaurants in New York City (Landmark Tavern History). What is so fascinating about the bar is that at one time it stood on the water’s edge of the Hudson River. It shows how Manhattan has reclaimed land around the island. The restaurant has an interesting bar menu.
Reviews on TripAdvisor:
Rounding the corner again at West 47th Street, one building did stand out amongst the rest of the commercial buildings on these two blocks and that was the McGlynn Hayes & Company building at 605 West 47th Street. The company was established in 1900 and specializes in all aspects of the Elevator industry (mostly hydraulic elevators) (McGlynn Hayes & Company website).
McGlynn Hayes & Company Building at 605 West 47th Street
The company was founded in 1900 by partners Thomas P. McGlynn and Henderson B. Hayes. The business had previously had been located at 62 Grand Street in lower Manhattan thus the 62 on their sign outside (14to42.net).
Reaching West 48th Street, was drenched in sweat by the time I finished walking the two blocks and there was not much to see with the exception of more warehouses and parking lots. I made it to Hell’s Kitchen Park on the corner of West 48th Street and 10th Avenue in time to collapse under the shade trees of the park and just relaxed. I had to catch my breath and have some bottled water before I took the subway downtown to meet my brother, who was visiting town for dinner in Chinatown. Trust me, the cool subway car relaxed me on the way downtown.
Hell’s Kitchen Playground has been my resting place on this walk at West 48th Street and 10th Avenue
That evening I joined my brother for dinner and a tour of Chinatown, which seems to slowly be going the way of Little Italy. Disappearing at the edges and smothered in the middle with new residents and businesses. I have never seen so many art galleries and shops opening up. I have began to call it ‘NoLoChi’ (No Longer Chinatown).
One of the restaurants that never closed during the pandemic and now has nice outdoor seating (for those of you who still don’t want to eat indoors in nice weather-I don’t blame you), Dim Sum Go Go at 5 East Broadway is wonderful. I love their assortment of Dim Sum and everything is always so fresh.
Dim Sum Go Go at 5 East Broadway in Chinatown
It was still so hot out so we choose to eat inside which was a much better choice that evening. I highly recommend the Pork Soup Dumplings and the pan-fried Pot Stickers. Everything on the menu is excellent and the service could not have been nicer that evening. It is getting tougher to find restaurants in Chinatown that stay open after 8:00pm. Slowly it is changing but Mott Street is going dark by 9:30pm and it never did that in the past.
I started my walk of Hell’s Kitchen again a few days later and it was just as hot but the humidity was not so bad. The one advantage I had as I continued walking the streets of the upper part of the neighborhood was the sun was at a particular point that afternoon and I was walking in the shade of the buildings most of the time.
I started my walk on the upper part of West 48th Street, revisiting the warehouses and parking lots I had already seen and then turned the corner and walked down West 49th Street where you will see more ‘street art’ closer to the rail tracks. What stood out was on the side of the building of Red Cross Building at 520 West 49th Street was the two detailed murals that were painted on the parking lot side of the building. I liked the universal message of the paintings.
You really have to peer over the fence to see these murals on the wall of 520 West 48th Street
At the end of the block, I had to stop for something to eat and came across Sal’s Pizzeria at 696 10th Avenue and had a slice of pizza. I have to say that it was excellent pizza and for $3.00 a slice the price was more than fair for this oversized slice. The sauce has an amazing flavor and is so well spiced and since the pie tasted like it just came out of the oven, the cheese was super gooey. I just took the plate outside and ate it as I walked to the envy of the people walking around me. I think they could tell I was enjoying my lunch.
Sal’s Pizzeria at 696 10th Avenue
I crossed over into the West 50’s after lunch and each block offered many surprises when you really looked. This is the best part of walking each side of the block as you might miss something on the other side which I had done in many blocks (That why I revisit so many neighborhoods and am constantly revising these blogs).
On the corner of West 50th Street and Twelve Avenue, there are interesting paintings all along the upper walls of 680 12th Avenue. They seem to have an unusual theme to them. This is also the case at West Park High School at 525 West 50th Street with a series of beautiful mosaics lining the entrances to the high school.
The colorful mosaics at 525 West 50th Street make a bold statement
Rounding the corner at West 51st Street, I saw the beauty again of the St. Mary’s Building at 87 West 11th Avenue with the Juan Alonso Community gardens flanking the entrance to the building. You can see the traces of the old neighborhood mixing with the new. The Juan Alonso Community Gardens on the corner of Eleventh Avenue and West 51st Street.
The St. Mary’s Building at 87 West 11th Avenue
Juan Alonso Community Gardens on the corner of West 51st Street and Eleventh Avenue
The Community Garden was named after a local resident and community activist , Juan Alonso, who tired of seeing an empty lot and drug dealers in the area. The vacant lot is now a network of small gardens throughout the neighborhood run by the Clinton Housing Development Company (CHDC).
Another hold out of the neighborhood is the Landmark Tavern at 626 Eleventh Avenue. It was opened by Patrick Henry Carly in 1868 and has been a staple since. It is one of the oldest continuing restaurants in New York City (Landmark Tavern History). What is so fascinating about the bar is that at one time it stood on the water’s edge of the Hudson River. It shows how Manhattan has reclaimed land around the island. The restaurant has an interesting bar menu.
The Landmark Tavern at 626 Eleventh Avenue
Reviews on TripAdvisor:
As I passed the gardens for a second time, I passed the currently closed Irish Arts Center which looked interesting.
Irish Arts Center at 553 West 51st Street
As I made my way down West 52nd Street, I passed the Joe Horvath Way Plaza, which stretches from 10th to 11th Avenues and was dedicated to Joseph Horvath, who located the Police Athletic League William J. Duncan Center on the block from its original location. The Duncan Center was named after a police officer who was shot in 1930 (Wiki).
The plaque outside the Police Athletic League Building
The William J. Duncan Center at 552 West 52nd Street is the home of the Police Athletic League and is a very active building when programs are in session.
When walking back down West 52nd Street, I noticed the plantings and beautiful flowers of the Oasis Community Garden at 505 West 52nd Street. The garden was locked to the public at the time but you could still admire the beauty and the work that was being done by the volunteers for over 30 years. Even during the pandemic, these dedicated volunteers have done a magnificent job maintaining the garden(Garden Blog site).
The Oasis Community Garden is at 505 West 52nd Street
When I reached West 53rd Street, the heat and the walking was beginning to get to me so I stopped at Dewitt Clinton Park which stretches between 11th and 12th Avenues which stretches from West 52nd to West 54th Streets and is the biggest patch of green on this part of the neighborhood.
Dewitt Clinton Park at the Eleventh Avenue and West 52nd Street entrance
The park is a haven for joggers and sports enthusiasts and the Erie Canal Playground is really big with the kids. On my second trip to the park and subsequent trips after, I discovered what a popular place the park was with local families and as the summer wore on with the local summer camps. There was so much activity in the park that afternoon.
As I walked around the park, I saw from when I was walking around Twelfth Avenue that the back part of the park is being reconstructed and renovated with what looks like new lighting , sidewalks and stairs to be followed by new landscaping. One great attribute is that there are open clean bathrooms open later in the evening and working water fountains to refill your water bottle with cool New York City water.
The front part of the park is very welcoming with flower beds, nice signage, comfortable benches to relax under the trees and nice paths. When you enter the park, you are greeted by the statue of a Doughboy from WWI.
The Doughboy State greets you at Dewitt Clinton Park (Clinton War Memorial)
Burt W. Johnson Artist
The statue was designed by artist Burt W. Johnson. Mr. Johnson is an American born artist who studied under noted sculptors James Earle Fraser and Augustus Saint Gaudens. The artist died shortly after the statue had been modeled (NYCParks.org). He studied at Pomona College and the Art Students League of New York (Wiki).
Dewitt Clinton, Politician and Philanthropist
The park was name after politician and philanthropist Dewitt Clinton from the prominent Dewitt and Clinton families. Mr. Clinton was the former Mayor of New York, Governor and Senator of New York State. He ran for President in 1812 losing to James Madison and was influential in the building the Erie Canal (Wiki).
What I really like about this park is the not just the family feel but it is one of the few open green spaces in the neighborhood so you see a hodge podge of people from business people reading and eating their lunches to neighbors enjoying each others company. It is such a nice place to relax and enjoy time under a shade tree.
One business that did stand out to me was the Clinton Park Stables at 618 West 52nd Street with horse drawn carriages being maintained and leaving the building at different times of the afternoon.
The building was built in the 1880’s to house the horses for the Sanitation and Streets Department and then was fully renovated in 2003 to house the horses on the second and third floors and do all the repairs on the carriages on the main floor (Clinton Park Stables-CarriageOn).
The Clinton Park Stables at 618 West 52nd Street
After relaxing in the park for a half hour under a shade tree by the statue, I continued the walk around the park and down West 55th Street which was mostly non descript buildings and then down West 56th Street which houses the a branch of the New York Sanitation Department. You really have to watch here as trucks and cars are coming out at all times and there is not much a space to walk on the sidewalks.
When I reached West 57th Street, there was much more newer residential building in this part of the neighborhood. I stopped again to admire the Via 57th on the corner of West 57th and Twelfth Avenue. This glimmering pyramid of glass stands out amongst the box structures in the neighborhood with it triangular shape and reflections of the sun and the river. It brings an elegance to the newly planted park and changes the makeup of the buildings by the river giving it futuristic look to the Hudson River.
Via 57th along the new Hudson River Park at 625 West 57th Street (Via 57)
This residential building is in the shape of a pyramid or “tetrahedron” looking ‘almost like a sailing vessel going across the river’. The tiered gardens and slopped space integrates with the surrounding park and river. The building was designed by Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group and by its founding architect Bjarke Ingels (Wiki).
Next to the Via is the Helena 57West at 601West 57th Street. On the side of this interesting building is an interesting piece of outdoor at entitled “Flows Two Ways” by artist Stephen Glassman from the Stephen Glassman Studio. This fascinating piece of art was installed in 2016 and reflects the location of the building by the Hudson River.
The piece represents the fact that the Hudson River is both a river and tidal estuary and flows in both directions at different times of the day. It refers to forces that are separate yet connected, a duality that generate abundant life force and a conversation between people, buildings, river earth and sky (Stephen Glassman Studio).
“Flows Both Ways” at 601 West 57th Street
Stephen Glassman, Artist
Mr. Glassman is an American born California based artist who holds a BFA from SUNY Purchase. His works are influenced by the California landscape. He has won numerous national awards for his work.
After walking all around the Via 57, admiring the sculpture and beauty of the building itself, I finished my walk of West 57th Street with a slice of pizza at Casabianca Family Italian Ristorante and Pizzeria at 503 West 57th Street. The pizza here is amazing and reasonable at $3.00 for a giant slice.
Casabianca Family Italian Ristorante and Pizzeria at 503 West 57th Street
I had an embarrassing situation at the restaurant that one of the cooks helped me out with when I ordered. I did not have enough cash on me and had only two dollars for the three dollar slice. I did not want to be one of ‘those people’ and explained the situation to the cook that I was a dollar short. I could not believe it when he said to me “Don’t worry about it. You can have it for $2.00. After you try it, I know you will be back.” That simple act of kindness gave me faith that everyone and everything in New York City is NOT going to pot as many naysayers are announcing on the news. There are still lots of New Yorkers who have faith in people.
He was right though. The pizza sauce was rich with flavor (see my review on TripAdvisor) and the each bite had a gooey consistency. Plus the size of the slice was much larger than many slices I have eaten on this voyage around Manhattan. They also have some nice specials at $7.00 that I want to try in the future.
The pizza here is excellent
After I left the restaurant content with a really nice feeling about the afternoon, I finished my walk around the block admiring the river ahead and the nice breezes coming off it. That felt good after a day like this. The humidity in the City has been off and on since walking in Hell’s Kitchen.
I reached West 58th Street by the late afternoon revisiting buildings that I had admired on past walks in the neighborhood. The first was the IRT Powerhouse Building at 840 12th Avenue and the John Jay College Haaren Hall Building at 899 10th Avenue on the corner of 10th and West 58th Street.
Turning the corner on West 58th Street at Tenth Avenue, you will face the beauty of the John Jay College of Criminology Haaren Building at 899 Tenth Avenue. The building is home to many classrooms and the library for the college. The building was designed by Charles B.J. Snyder and was completed in 1903 (Wiki and John Jay College). The building was originally the Dewitt Clinton High School.
John Jay College Haaren Building at 899 Tenth Avenue
Across the street from the park is the former IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit) Powerhouse at 840 12th Avenue. This ornate building was built in 1904 and takes up the entire area from West 59th to West 58th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. Designed by architect Stamford White, the building is used by Con Ed of New York to supply the New York Steam system. It is designed in the ‘Renaissance Revival’ and really walk around the building you can see the beautiful details of the building especially around the building . It was recently declared a Landmark Building in New York (Wiki).
IRT Powerhouse at 840 12th Avenue
While revisiting the neighborhood, I came across another sculpture that captured my attention “Swinging Jenny” by artist Jay Lagemann at the back side of 610 West 57th Street at Via 57.
“Swinging Jenny” by artist Jay Lagemann
Mr. Lagemann is an American born artist who currently lives on Martha’s Vineyard. He holds degrees in Mathematics from Princeton and a PhD from MIT. His works are influenced from his travels abroad(Artist bio).
Artist Jay Lagemann
I finished my walk by relaxing at the park at One Waterline Square, which was behind fencing the last time I visited the neighborhood over a year ago. The finished complex was simmering in the sunlight and in the middle of the complex is the energetic Waterline Square Park loaded with families and kids.
One Waterline Square
The tiers of the park were very interesting as stairways lead to different levels of the park with fountains and trees and water features that shot up every few minutes with loads of kids and their parents screaming at each plug of water. This is when it is fun to be a kid.
The park was designed by the New York architect group, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects. This creative women-owned firm who uses a cumulative and holistic image for each project using designs that are insightful and artful as well as performative (MNLA Mission Statement)
One Waterline Square Park
Waterline Square Park is one of the most unusual parks that I have seen in the City since walking Battery Park City. The park has almost a Dr. Seuss effect to it with its interesting plantings, bridges and water features in all directions. It also has plenty of seating to relax and enjoy the cool breezes. All this packed in between three elegant buildings. It was fun just watching everyone have a good time.
It was nice to sit under a tree and relax to cool off. I could believe how this whole area of the City had transformed itself from just a year ago but that is the magic of New York City. From behind the fencing came this magical city of glass and green space appears and shows that Manhattan is in a ever state of change.
I finished my walk of Hell’s Kitchen at 4:00pm that afternoon and just watched the people in the park having a good time. Walking in Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton/Midtown West (whatever you want to call it) and it shows how a City can keep reinventing itself and change for the betterment of the people it serves.
Even with everything going on with the pandemic facing new challenges, as I have walked the streets of this neighborhood I faced a neighborhood like many I have visited since the City reopened summer that has not given up but faced the challenges and put their dedication in making their neighborhood a better place. It has come a LONG way since I worked in Manhattan in the late 1980’s.
I dedicate this blog to all the neighborhood organizations, non-profits and merchants for the work you have done to make this neighborhood what it is today.
Please Read my other blogs on Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton/Midtown West:
Walking the Border and Avenues of Hell’s Kitchen Day One Hundred and Ninety Four:
Walking the Streets of Hell’s Kitchen Day One Hundred and Ninety Seven:
Walking the Borders of Hell’s Kitchen (Western Side) Day One Hundred and Ninety Nine:
I had to split the neighborhood into two parts separated by 10th Avenue as there was so much to see and the complexity of the neighborhood changes on each side.
Places to Eat:
696 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10019
Open: Sunday 11:00am-10:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-10:30pm/Friday-Saturday 11:00am-11:30pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
Casabianca Family Italian Ristorante and Pizzeria
503 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
Open: Sunday 11:00am-9:00pm/Monday-Friday 10:30am-9:00pm/Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
Dim Sum Go Go
5 East Broadway
New York, NY 10038
Open: Sunday -Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
Places to Visit:
Dewitt Clinton Park
Between Twelfth and Eleventh Avenues between West 52nd and West 54th Streets
New York, NY 10019
My review on TripAdvisor:
The Juan Alonso Community Gardens
West 51st Street @Eleventh Avenue
New York, NY 10019
Open: Check their website
Hell’s Kitchen Park
10th Avenue between West 47th and 48th Streets
New York, NY 10036
Open: Sunday- Saturday 9:00am-6:00pm
10 Riverside Boulevard
New York, NY 10069
Open: Please check the complexes website
Oasis Community Garden
505 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019
Open: Please check their website