Skip to main content

The View from Hell's Kitchen

A weekend visit to the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market on West 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues often turns up a lot of great finds, but surely the unusual view of the city from this block and adjacent streets must be counted as one of the best side benefits to market shopping.

IMG_7138
Hell's Kitchen Flea Market on W. 39th, with residential towers in the distance.
The food trucks were part of this past Sunday's Gourmet Food Truck Bazaar.

To the immediate northwest, the tall and sleek modern residential high-rises near the Hudson River symbolize the transformation of this once rough-and-tumble west side neighborhood into what the AIA Guide to New York City describes as "a new frontier for desperate affluent luxury invaders." To the northeast, the eclectic Midtown West/Times Square skyline rises above tenement buildings, a mix of the old and new city. From this angle in Hell's Kitchen, the steel-rod curtain of the Times Tower on Eighth Avenue, designed by Renzo Piano and built in 2007, seems the most dominant, though a magnificent older skyscraper on 42nd Street, Raymond Hood's blue-green McGraw Hill Building (original name) from 1930-1931, achieves greater elegance. Sandwiched between the two and closer to the ground, the showy Paramount Building (1926-1927) with its theatrical clock and globe looks the most fun.

IMG_7150
view of Midtown from W. 38th Street, looking northwest.
Look for the clock and globe of the Paramount Building (1501 Broadway) just right of center,
now looking small but holding its own.




From the vantage point of a high floor in the new-futurist Yotel Hotel (10th Avenue and 42nd St.), the transformation along the streets near and far beyond the flea market comes into clearer view: out a west window - the twin glass towers of River Place (2009) and the slender Atelier (2007), both residential luxury developments of recent years; to the southwest - St. Cyril & Methodius & St. Raphael Church, a steadfast reminder of another day from the 1890s, and beyond to the river, New York's comparatively inaccessible meeting place, the Jacob Javits Convention Center. The extension of the 7 line to the west should alleviate the access issue, along with bolstering the redevelopment of the large Hudson Yards waterfront. And to the south, we see the vast expanse of the West Side, sprawling on past the West Side highway and the trail arteries of the once and future High Line (the final section would wrap around the Hudson Rail Yards ending near the Javits Center). Looking way, way south, One World Trade Center takes shape in the skyline.

IMG_7190
The changing West Side


IMG_7192
St. Cyril & Methodius & St. Raphael Church (foreground);
Jacob Javits Convention Center (background on the left)

IMG_7196
Looking south. One World Trade Center is in the distance, right of center.
As a point of interest, the skyscraper on the far right is in Jersey City -
the Goldman Sachs Tower, the tallest building in New Jersey.


These vantage points are only available to those with certain rooms at the hotel, so residents of New York may want to suggest the accommodations to their friends and visit them. The hotel's restaurant and spacious terrace on the 4th floor are open to the public. The views of 42nd Street looking east are a vision of Manhattan loveliness, with the Chrysler Building in the distance. The Hudson River views to the west are also spectacular.

IMG_7209
looking east from the hotel's terrace on the 4th floor


Back to reality on the ground, this area of southern Hell's Kitchen offers easy access to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and vice versa. While there, look for an homage to the famous fictional bus driver, Ralph Kramden of The Honeymooners, in the weighty bronze statue of Kramden (aka the hefty actor Jackie Gleason) in front of the massive building on 8th Avenue. As we recall from the TV series, Kramden worked for the Gotham Bus Company. His friend, Ed Norton (Art Carney), labored in the city sewer system.

IMG_7169
statue of Ralph Kramden in front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal


As Gotham often goes, we've walked from the privileged haunts of the wealthy on the high floors to the swells of humanity at the bus terminal. High or low, a shared city of dreams rests to the east of here - in the fabulous gaudy world of the theater district and Times Square.

IMG_7180
The city of dreams. 42nd Street.



View The View from Hell's Kitchen in a larger map

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from July 10, 2011. As an important aside, a summertime visit to this area of Hell's Kitchen may require copious amounts of sunblock. With the recent heatwave, Hell's Kitchen felt like it. For more information about the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, visit this link. For more information about the Yotel Hotel, see their website.

For a literary approach to Hell's Kitchen, read about poet Vachel Lindsay's experience in the post Scenes from a Walk in Hell's Kitchen.

Comments

  1. Love the McGraw Hill bldg!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Me, too. I wish the transition from Art Deco to modern had lasted longer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I always enjoy unusual and unexpected views of city landscapes. The Ralph Kramden statue--priceless.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thank you for your response! Walking Off the Big Apple is accepting comments. Please be relevant to the content and do not solicit or engage in self-promotion. Thoughtful responses are welcome. Comments are moderated at all times.










Popular posts from this blog

A Daytime Walk on Broadway and the Theater in the Dark

On October 9, the Broadway League announced that the theater season has been postponed through May 2021, leaving Broadway dark for the winter and into the spring of next year. According to the press release, “Broadway performances were initially suspended due to COVID 19 on March 12, 2020. At that time, 31 productions were running, including 8 new shows in previews. Additionally, 8 productions were in rehearsals preparing to open in the spring.”It’s hard to imagine New York without the theater. Even a daytime walk along the way in the Theater District near Times Square will reveal that the theater, in terms of live performances with an audience, has gone dark. Without Broadway, that leaves visitors to Times Square with few options for general amusement. Many stores and restaurants have closed as well. The lights are still up and blazing. When the Empire State Building was left nearly empty during the Great Depression, just a few years after it opened, the building crew kept the lights…

North Towards Autumn: A Day Trip on the Metro-North Hudson Line

The peak of autumn colors in New York City tends to fall sometime in the days following Halloween, but those anxiously waiting leaf change can simply travel north. 
One way to speed the fall season is to take the Hudson line of Metro-North north of the city and watch the greens fade to oranges and yellows and the occasional burst of red. Weekends during the month of October are ideal times to make the trip. The air tends to be crisp with bright blue skies, and the Hudson River glimmers like a mirror in the light of autumn. As the Hudson line hugs the river for much of the distance north, the train ride alone provides plenty of opportunities for sightseeing. Try to grab a window seat on the river side of the train car for views of the Palisades and the bends of the Hudson Highlands later in the trip.  Still, October is a great time for a walk. Exploring the villages along the Hudson line may be accomplished on foot, and many cater to visitors with signs and maps indicating the village’s…

An Early Autumn Walk in Central Park: 2020 Edition

This week, the singer Diana Krall released a cover of “Autumn in New York,” the standard by Vernon Duke. An accompanying video, filmed in New York by Davis McCutcheon and directed by Mark Seliger, portrays the city in moody yet beautiful black and white tones. Beyond the lack of autumn colors, the film shows the empty streets of the pandemic city. The mood riffs on the underlying melancholy of the song’s lyrics, that the fall season “is often mingled with pain.”

When I think of autumn in New York, I automatically imagine walking in Central Park in the vivid colors of the season. The images here, from a meandering one-mile stroll this past Saturday, show only a hint of autumnal glory but reflect more conventional representations of both the season and the song. Yet, walking in Central Park at the beginning of autumn is tinged for me with a hint of sadness, or truthfully, with some anxiety about the coming months.

I hadn’t ventured into Central Park since before the pandemic. While I’ve b…

A Weekend Walk on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Imagine strolling from town to town near the eastern shores of the Hudson River, walking a well-trodden path lined with trees and stately architecture and with easy access to cafes, local shops, and train stations for an easy ride home. Imagine a weekend when the sun is bright and the sun is warm, and many other people - but not too many - are out enjoying the same weather and the same stroll. Such were the pleasures on a recent Sunday, in the latter part of this unseasonal winter, along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail not too far north from New York City.


The Old Croton Aqueduct, the system that once delivered fresh water from the Croton River to New York City, was a huge and complex marvel of engineering. The trail sits on top of the aqueduct system. This post describes a walk along just a section of the trail, the one that begins at the Keeper’s House in Dobbs Ferry and ends in Irvington.


First, catch a Metro-North Hudson line train to Dobbs Ferry, a village in southern Westchester C…

MoMA in Masks

Update. Beginning September 28, MoMA will require all members to reserve tickets in advance.*Walking into the gallery devoted to Claude Monet’s Water Lilies (c 1920) at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on Saturday afternoon, I saw a woman seated on a bench. She was looking at the artist’s dreamy depiction of his garden at Giverny, and I thought for a moment she might be dreaming as well. As she was the only person occupying what is usually a packed room for fans of Impressionism, I was hesitant to invade her private garden reveries.I would enjoy my own such private moments with my favorite MoMA works that afternoon, including Marc Chagall’s I and the Village (1911). The painting depicts a colorful and geometric fairy tale of peasants and animals, memories of the artist’s childhood home outside Vitebsk. And I had a long time to feel the scorching sun of photographer Dorothea Lange’s Woman of the High Plains, Texas Panhandle (1938), a setting closer to my hometown. Later I would sit in t…

Early Voting in Washington Heights, and A Walk

Early voting for the 2020 federal election in New York began on Saturday, October 24 and continues through Sunday, November 1. The weekend was overcast and autumnal, with the bright yellows of fall on display. In New York City, thousands of New Yorkers turned out at the 88 early voting locations and waited in long lines, many stretching around the block. Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn were two of the well-known sites, but most voting places were typical neighborhood places such as schools, churches, and hospitals.  In Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, two early voting locations were within a short walk of one another, causing some confusion for voters emerging from the 168th Street subway station. The Columbia University Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion, at 1150 St. Nicholas Avenue, was the closest to the train stop. The Fort Washington Avenue Armory at 216 Ft. Washington Avenue is located a couple of blocks to the west.On Saturday, I …

NYC Re-openings and Travel Advice

What will open, and how will you get there? This list will be updated following official announcements.
UPDATED October 10, 2020. Many favorite local destinations have now reopened. 

Openings  - General Information and Popular Destinations   
• Restaurants: Consult this NYC Department of Transportation map (updated link) for restaurants currently open in NYC. Starting September 30, NYC allowed indoor dining at 25% capacity.
• As of September 25, outdoor dining in NYC has been extended FOREVER.
• The 9/11 Memorial reopened on Saturday, July 4. Visitors must wear masks and keep social distancing practices.
• (update) Libraries: NYPL. The library will allow a grab-and-go service at 50 locations.
Governors Island reopened July 15 with advance reserved tickets. 
• The High Line reopened on July 16, with several rules and limitations in place, including timed entry passes - available July 9. Entrance only at Gansevoort Street. See High Line website for details. 
The Bronx Zoo reopened July 20 fo…

The Lonesome Metropolis: A Walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center

As New York City reopens, why do the attractions of the great metropolis still look mostly deserted on a summer morning? A morning walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center sought to address this question. As it turns out, there are several adequate explanations. But for what happens next, there are no right answers.

Many neighborhoods outside of tourist New York are still buzzing along. While some residents of wealthier neighborhoods have largely decamped to mountain cabins, beach houses, and other second homes, the less wealthy have nowhere to go and may still be working. Just visit Washington Heights or Corona or Flatbush, and you’ll see sidewalks full of shoppers and summer evening street partiers. Those who fled the city remain only a fraction of the total population.  

Other renowned parts of the city such as City Hall and Brooklyn Bridge have been frequently occupied, as in Occupied, with crowds protesting police violence. This week, NYPD officers in riot gear remove…

Connect the Dots: A Self-Guided Walk to Public Art in Lower Manhattan

Please see the revised and updated post, New York as Outdoor Museum: A Self-Guided Walk to Public Art in Lower Manhattan, June 2012.)

Lower Manhattan, with its tapered narrow geography between the two rivers spilling into New York Harbor, is not only a convenient area to walk but it's rich in public art.

Be sure to include Jean Dubuffet's Group of Four Trees, 1969-72 (left), in front of the Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza off of Pine Street, the Louise Nevelson Plaza on Maiden Lane (below), and many of the works in Battery Park City.

The latter area, under the guidance of the Battery Park City Authority, raised a new high standard in the 1980s with its commitment to incorporating public art into the new community. There, be sure to see Jim Dine's Ape and Cat (at the Dance) in Robert F. Wagner. Jr. Park, a blend of charm and danger, and South Cove, a great collaborative work of environmental design.



Also welcome is the Downtown Alliance's public art program, Re:Construction,…

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings.
Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours.
UPDATED September 23, 2020
Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details.
• The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) reopened to the public on August 27, with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Mondays for MoMA members only. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum.
• New-York Historical Society reopened on August 14 with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine.
• The Metropolitan …