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As New York excitedly gears up for its first full St Patrick’s Day celebrations since 2019, Hell’s Kitchen’s rich Irish heritage will be in the spotlight as Governor Kathy Hochul approves the addition of the 9th Ave Paddy’s Market District to the National Register of Historic Places. The stretch of 9th Avenue from W35th to W40th Street was among 21 locations recently approved by the Governor for addition to the NRHP. 

9th Ave Paddy’s Market district hopes to become part of the National Register of Historic Places. Photo: Phil O’Brien

“As we reflect on the broad and diverse history of the Empire State, these nominations represent the places behind the inspiring stories from our past. These additions to the historic registers will help ensure resources are available to protect historic sites so that the past can continue to inspire us today — and into the future,” said Governor Hochul in a press release. The proposal now moves to the National Park Service for finalization in May. 

Paddy’s Market was an open-air commercial cornerstone of the neighborhood from the late 1870s to 1938. Many of the buildings in the area built in the late-nineteenth century and early twentieth-century still stand today, including storefronts like Esposito Meat Market (est 1932) and Longo Bros (est 1933, re-established 2020). After the 9th Avenue EL train was extended in 1879, the thoroughfare became a bustling weekly destination for the neighborhood’s many Irish residents, as well as vendors and consumers from the Polish, German, Italian, and Jewish immigrant communities. 

While Paddy’s Market was shut down in 1938 to make way for the Lincoln Tunnel, the spirit of its specialty grocery, mom-and-pop shops, and small independent stores lives on through illustrations of its historic architecture — and in the recent push by HYHK Alliance, Community Board 4 and the Clinton Housing Development to cement this beacon of Irish culture into the New York City pantheon. Said Joe Restuccia, Executive Director of Clinton Housing Development Company: “We can create an identity for this area that will encourage economic development and tourism, as well as helping the recovery of retail businesses impacted by COVID-19.” 

Storefronts along 9th Avenue hope to become part of the Paddy’s Market historical district. Illustrations: Joel Holland

Many locals are using their St Patrick’s Day celebrations as a way to reconnect with and support the neighborhood’s plentiful Irish bars and restaurants after a long COVID-19 pause. If you’re looking for a place to grab a pint, check out The Mean Fiddler, where the Guinness flows freely alongside limited edition “Pot O’ Gold” cakes. Sip an Irish coffee and sing a few traditional folk songs at The Landmark Tavern, or dig into a hot Shepherd’s Pie at Gossip. Make a stop at Mercury Bar for a Rueben sandwich paired with green cocktails, or if you have a (really) sweet tooth, tuck into a stack of green buttermilk pancakes topped with marshmallow fluff and Lucky Charms from Mom’s.

Looking for less traditional fare? McQuaids has a brand-new hot wing recipe to pair with your pint. Feeling lucky? Head to Hibernia, where not only will there will be a leprechaun on the premises to hand out prizes, but a now-famous prize-laden balloon drop! And if you’re seeking a calmer St Patrick’s Day, try West Bank Cafe’s traditional corned beef and cabbage special or some soda bread from Amy’s Bread.

If it seems like there’s an Irish pub on almost every corner in HK and the city at large, there is — according to a recent study by landscaping startup Lawnstarter, NYC is home to the most Irish bars and restaurants in the US. The study also ranked 200 major urban areas for overall “Irish-ness”, consisting of the population share of people with Irish heritage, the number of Irish events and cultural organizations, and proliferation of Irish restaurants and bars. NYC ranks as the third-most Irish city in America behind #1 Boston (cue the Dropkick Murphys) and #2 Chicago, but fear not — the Big (Green) Apple bests both towns with the largest yearly St Patrick’s Day Parade. However, we at W42ST would not recommend mentioning that to any Bostonians unless you’re willing to get into a bar fight. 

If you’d like to join the parade after a few pints at Hibernia, this year’s march kicks off on Thursday at 11am, beginning at E44th Street and running up 5th Avenue to E79th Street. And whether you’re celebrating out in the neighborhood or with a Guinness to accompany your Zoom meeting, take a moment to acknowledge the vibrant Irish legacy of Hell’s Kitchen. As former Irish step dancer and New Yorker TJ Larke told W42ST: “I love St Patrick’s Day in NYC more than Christmas. It’s a day to feel pride in our heritage. We sing, we dance, we drink, and we eat — and we think about our family and their journeys to the states and the lives they built for us here.” Sláinte! 

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2 Comments

  1. Please research history of Irish in NY. Paddy is highly offensive term used to describe a person of Irish descent. It is equitable to the N word. My family lived in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1800s to early 1900s and had to fight against the injustice towards being Irish.

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