Credits: Wikipedia – Roger Rowlett

This is both the name of an American TV show that is animated by the demanding chef Gordon Ramsay but especially that of a neighborhood in western Manhattan … Why Hell's Kitchen, literally "the kitchen of the devil" , does it mean that part of the city?

This is disappointing, but no explanation is unanimous. As Mariam Touka, a librarian at the New York Historical Society, explains, "We do not know if the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood was called this way because it was the name of one of the gangs that was rampant or if it was first used to reflect the dangerousness of this place". Hell's Kitchen did not have a very good reputation in the 19th century. Herbert Asbury knows something about it. This American journalist has written several books on New York gangs, including those of Hell's Kitchen that he considered "A rally of the worst rascals in the city". Violence and killings were part of the daily life of the neighborhood because gangs controlled the area entirely.

Other explanations exist, but they are mostly urban legends. In 1881, a journalist from New York Times would have visited the neighborhood with the police to cover criminal cases. He reportedly referred to "Hell's Kitchen" as one of the buildings. Another story tells that two policemen there would have observed a small riot, the youngest would have said that the place was a hell. His partner would have told him that it was cooking of hell ". It could also be the distortion of the German name Heils Kitchen, a restaurant located in the neighborhood.

In an effort to make the place more attractive, the city and real estate agents wanted to rename the "Clinton" neighborhood in the 1960s. However, this name never took hold.


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