Tuesday, January 03, 2017

New York Names

When we were in New York last year........or was it the year before? Holiday years blur. Anway, two New York place names interested me, Hell's Kitchen and Tribeca. Hell's Kitchen does not sound too great and I have no idea about Tribeca. Let me look. I'll start with Tribeca because the origin of the name is not contested.

While Tribeca sounds like a foreign word, it is not. Triangle Below Canal Street is its origin (no connection to the oh so gay Canal Street in Manchester, England). It isn't actually a triangle as it has four sides, but it is triangularly shaped with Canal Street being its northern border and the World Trade Centre area on its southern border. Isn't that interesting. Well, I think so and it turned out to be so easy to find out.


Hell's Kitchen is a bit harder. The local authority and property developers like to call the area Clinton (not after those Clintons) or Midtown West. The area was settled in the mid 19th century by mostly Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine back home. It was a poverty and crime stricken area until the 1980s when gentrification of the area began. There was a Hell's Kitchen in London but of the many theories of the origin of the name, I like this one best.

But the most common version traces it to the story of "Dutch Fred the Cop," a veteran policeman, who with his rookie partner, was watching a small riot on West 39th Street near Tenth Avenue. The rookie is supposed to have said, "This place is hell itself," to which Fred replied, "Hell's a mild climate. This is Hell's Kitchen.


The pinkish area is Hell's Kitchen, on the banks of the Hudson River. We stayed within the area, in West 40th Street just east of 8th Avenue.


In never understood New York geography until I went there.

23 comments:

  1. Visited a great restaurant in Hell's Kitchen when I was there in the summer.

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    1. Marie, I wish we had know about that restaurant. While we ate ok, there was nothing outstanding.

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  2. 40th Street? Sounds posh to me. We stayed 'uptown' from you on East 97th Street, one block west of 2nd Avenue and one block south of Spanish Harlem. Sounds exotic. It was a fantastic location for us.

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    1. I know that Victor. You were the one who was in the posh area, Upper East Side.

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    2. It's funny you say that Andrew. When we booked the accommodation several separate friends who claimed they knew New York well when told the address of our apartment reacted with that non committal 'oh' as if they had just witnessed a sad faux pas.

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    3. Victor, it may have had the opposite meaning. According to the UK Daily Telegraph, it has the most expensive property in the US.

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    4. They must be joking Andrew. I can't believe that of the immediate area where we stayed.

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  3. Interesting to find out why places are named such names.
    Hell's Gates, Hell's Cliffs and so on...here in our land too.

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    1. News to me Margaret. I need to investigate.

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  4. I really like that version of how Hell's Kitchen got its name too.
    Celebrity chefs eat your heart out...

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    1. EC, a bit strange that there is not a conclusive explanation, but yes, that one is good.

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  5. It sometime Interesting how so called neighborhoods come up with there names...My home is located in "Pleasant Valley" I have never gave it much thought on what people might think of that name or how it came about...Coffee is on

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    1. Dora, Pleasant Valley sounds very nice........and pleasant.

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  6. I like the name Tribeca. I've heard of both places, mostly in novels, but never bothered to look for them on any map.

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    1. Yes, I guess the well read River would know of these places. It is kind of you have to be there moment.

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  7. My ex-husband, Randall, lived on New York's Upper East Side for nine years ....from 1965 to 1974. He loved New York..and loves it still. He work for the New Zealand Commission to the UN for a couple of years...working for Frank Corner who was then the NZ Ambassador to the UN as his chauffeur and general dog's body. For a short while after that he worked for the British in the UN, but then stepped back out into the real world to become manager of a bar on the Upper East Side...typically called "O'Brien's" - and typically owned by an Irishman!

    I, too, like the name Tribeca.

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    1. So interesting Lee. Great colour and movement and a personal connection.

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  8. Great info, Andrew, and filled with tidbits that I didn't know.
    Happy 2017.

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    1. Thanks Sandra. I learn many things about my country from people who don't live here.

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  9. Just a fortnight ago (20/12/2016) I was fascinated with the origins of the Greenwich part of News York. This is all such fun :)

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    1. Indeed Hels, and it is a very nice part of Manhattan.

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  10. The Hell's Kitchen name story is great! I've never been to New York. We do have a Devil's Punchbowl on the coast, but its a geographic feature of boiling tidal waters in rock. When I grew up we took Seven Devil's road to the beach. I don't know where that road got its name. It is a very curvy road.

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    1. Strayer, it said that NY is different to the rest of the country and I believe that's true. They are both good names. Seven Devils would be overwhelming.

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