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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.

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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.

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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.

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The changing West Side


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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.





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