President of Hell’s Kitchen Democrats and the W55th Street Block Association, Christine Gorman, waited nine years before finding her perfect apartment in the neighborhood. The former teacher and science journalist shares her West Side Story.

Christine at The Flame Diner on 9th Avenue. Photo: Phil O’Brien

So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I moved to NYC in the 1980s to take a dream job at TIME Magazine as a reporter in their health and medicine section. 

What was your first job? What do you do now?
I’ve always been involved in the sciences in one way or another. My first job was as a high school biology teacher in Houston, Texas, where I taught 10th and 12th grade students about evolution without getting in trouble with either their parents or the principal. My strategy was to teach the concepts and the evidence for evolution before ever actually using the word “evolution” — and it worked. Several students told me that evolution made a lot of sense to them and wasn’t at all what they had expected. Not sure I could get away with that approach these days. 

While I was a professional journalist at TIME and later Scientific American, I was not allowed to participate in any political activity — other than voting. But since leaving those jobs, I’ve become more involved in community organizing and was recently elected president of Hell’s Kitchen Democrats ( I’m also writing a book about my grandmother’s experience as a member of a Franco-Polish resistance network (dubbed F2) during World War Two. My grandfather was a French-English translator in the French Army. He was evacuated with the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk in June 1940 and was named mayor of Rouen — the regional capital of Normandy — at its liberation from the Germans in 1944. 

Christine’s French grandparents, Guillaume and Maude Montier, circa 1939. Photo supplied.

What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
So many great New York moments. How to pick just one? Sitting in front of my apartment building during the blackout of 2003 with all my neighbors and just talking the night away, sharing beer and ice cream that would have otherwise gone bad. Admiring a particularly amazing Manhattanhenge sunset on W57th Street with total strangers. Watching an honest-to-God emu and its handler get out of a limousine on the East Side. 

Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I moved to Hell’s Kitchen for the trees. Specifically the trees on W55th Street. I remember just walking around the neighborhood one day and landing on W55th between 8th and 9th Avenue and seeing all the trees that line the block on both sides of the street. I figured any block that cared that much about having trees had to be a good block to live on — one where neighbors cared about each other and their shared environment. 

When I saw that the trees on W55th were filled with lights in the winter time that just sealed the deal. It was magical. It took me nine years, but I finally found an apartment on W55th that I could afford and I jumped at the chance to move in. 

Christine moved to Hell’s Kitchen for the trees. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Fast forward a few decades and I am now president of the W55th Street Block Association, which is responsible for raising the money to light the trees each year. We also sponsor travel grants for rising seniors at the High School for Environmental Studies so that they can check out potential colleges and universities outside the five boroughs. 

The trees got me to Hell’s Kitchen, but the community that I discovered here has kept me rooted. 

What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I enjoy drawing elaborate Zen Tangles — basically super-charged doodles. I find it very meditative. 

Christine and her spouse, Lisa Pinto. Photo supplied.

What else should we know about you?
1) I’m running for judicial delegate in the June 27 primary, along with a wonderfully diverse and progressive team of Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea residents. We hope to bring more accountability and transparency to the process of selecting judges for the New York State Supreme Court.

2) My spouse Lisa Pinto and I share our home with Chester, a nine-year-old Havanese dog. 

Christine’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places

Medi Wine Bar — 811 9th Avenue (bw W53/54th St)
Their grilled octopus is the best. I also love dining al fresco in their backyard. 

Rostelle’s Shoe Service — 919 8th Avenue (bw W54/55th St)
In this throw-away society, it’s great to have the option of saving a pair of shoes that just needs a new pair of soles or heels in order to keep going. 

Lorenzo Powell started working in the shop at 300 West 55th (on Ninth Avenue) as an employee many years ago, and he was able to purchase it himself around 15 years ago. He had started in the shoe repair business working for his father, who owned a shop himself in Harlem that he ran from the World War II era until 1986. His wife, Judith, regularly sets up a new and eye-catching seasonal display in the shop window. If ever there was a neighborhood contest for Best Window Dressing, she would surely take the top prize. 

Christine Gorman and Lorenzo
Christine with Lorenzo Powell at Rostelle’s Shoe Service. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Kashkaval Garden — 852 9th Avenue (bw W55/56th St)
Who doesn’t love Meze and Tapas? More than once when I’ve been at one of their sidewalk tables on Ninth Avenue, a neighbor will happen by and come join me. 

Gardenia Terrace — 826 10th Avenue (bw W54/55th St)
Duck into this corner restaurant for the best hummus this side of Alexandria. Their black Tuscan kale salad is also superb. Hookahs are available for those who like flavored tobacco. I don’t partake myself, but they add to the ambience. 

Domus — 413 W 44th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
A wonderfully curated gift shop. The place to go when you want to show that you’ve made an effort to find something special. 

The Flame Diner — 893 9th Avenue (bw W57/58th St)
Great diner whether you’re looking for a burger or just a cup of coffee. Another place where Lisa and I often run in to neighbors.

Clinton Cove — Hudson River Greenway
I love walking down W55th Street to the Hudson River with our dog Chester. We go sit on one of the benches on Pier 95 and watch the clouds or the boat traffic go by — depending on which is more interesting. The tricky part, of course, is getting across the West Side Highway. I usually scoop Chester up in my arms for that part — one of the great the advantages of having a portable pooch. 

Westerly Natural Market — 911 8th Avenue (corner of W54th St)
I love their produce. Always fresh. I like to experiment with different kinds of cuisine from time to time and whenever I need a hard-to-find spice or grain, they always seem to have it in stock.

Christine loves the produce at Westerly Natural Market. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Be sure to vote in the June primary. Voters in Assembly District 75 will be deciding who will represent them in the section of New York State Supreme Court judges. As we’ve all seen over the past few months, judges are the first line of defense in protecting our democratic values. Early voting begins on June 17. Primary day is June 27.

You can follow Christine on Twitter @cgorman. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself), please fill in this form —

You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.

Join the Conversation


  1. Great article! We love the lights!

    Is the block association doing anything about all the illegally parked cars? Everyone knows the regular offenders.

    It is extremely dangerous trying to get out of a taxi cab in the middle of the street and cross the bike lane, which becomes a blind spot because of the illegally parked cars, and more than once I have witnessed children almost get seriously injured.

    For the officers on 54th Street, we are fine with parking here, and thank you for your service keeping our block safe! But for all the people taking advantage of lack of enforcement, and people putting tags on their dashboard indicating they are 3rd-cousins-once-removed from an officer – this needs to end and they need to pay for parking like all the other people who choose to not break the law.

    1. Glad you love the lights. And you’re right. The cars that are illegally parked in front of fire hydrants or in the loading zones have been a big challenge. The vast majority are actually NOT from the precinct but come from far outside the neighborhood. And now folks are double-parking in front of the unlicensed cannabis shop on our street in the evenings, blocking traffic and cars coming out of the parking garage.

  2. Christine’s passion for the block and neighborhood is unsurpassed. I’m glad to see such a terrific profile of someone dedicated to making all our lives in this community so much better.

  3. Christine so nice to see you profiled on my favorite newsletter. I remember when you stood up at the HK Dems meeting to nominate yourself for a position when someone asked why aren’t more women running. So proud that you are now the president of that organization that was so important to me when I lived in HK. Keep up the good work!

  4. Christine is an Incredible Block Association President, Community leader and President of HK Democrats. We are luck to have this tremendous force of a human in our Hell’s Kitchen. Thank you for all you do, Christine!

  5. Christine is doing a great job as HK Dems President. Everyone in HK should join just for the pleasure of experiencing her excellent leadership as well as to support your neighborhood. Go to

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