It was a year where New York slowly but surely reopened to tourism and local activity — and while some of the city’s urgent pandemic emergencies faded into the background, New Yorkers were faced with both the re-emergence of long-term, pre-COVID problems and some entirely new issues born out of the aftershocks of 2020 and 2021. W42ST takes a look through the year’s coverage to discover what got West Siders talking in 2022…

The Still-Unsolved Case of Julio Ramirez

Justice for Julio Brayan Montes-Terrazas

It’s been nearly seven months since Ramirez, a 25-year old social worker, disappeared after a night out in Hell’s Kitchen and was later found dead, his bank accounts drained. In the intervening months, Ramirez’s friends, family and locals have demanded answers from law enforcement authorities, as dozens of similarly unsettling stories of young gay men being drugged and robbed — and at least one other death — came to light, suggesting a pattern of LGBTQIA+-targeted crime in Hell’s Kitchen. Ramirez’s case has now been escalated to the District Attorney’s office, but Hell’s Kitchen is still on edge as his killers remain free. Read all of our coverage here…

Chez Napoleon Saved After 11-Month Nightmare

William Welles celebrates Chez Napoleon being saved
William Welles celebrates Chez Napoleon’s return. Photo: Naty Caez

One of the neighborhood and city’s most beloved, old school French restaurants, the family-run Chez Napoleon faced permanent closure amid a gas line shutdown that led to an 11-month rigamarole of building issues, repair paperwork, and endless bureaucratic red tape that kept them shuttered. Mother-son duo Elyane Bruno and William Welles were resignedly preparing to close the 62-year-old year institution in November when, much to the neighborhood’s delight, they received the final approval from the FDNY and were able to once again serve up their signature Steak Frites and Escargot to a slew of grateful West Side regulars. The cafe, which won a special award for perseverance at this year’s W42ST Awards is now back in action, providing Hell’s Kitchen with lovingly prepared French comfort food and and old world atmosphere. Read all of our coverage here.

Asylum Seekers Arrive in Hell’s Kitchen

Port Authority Asylum Seekers Arrive
Buses arrive at Port Authority with asylum seekers sent by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Photo: NYC Mayor’s Office Credit: Diane Bondareff/Mayoral Photo Office

In a political statement to President Joe Biden over their dissatisfaction with his administration’s immigration policy, Republican Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida sent thousands of asylum-seekers to New York City, with hundreds of migrants arriving daily on buses to Port Authority over the past five months. In a “right-to-shelter” state and city, the Adams administration has struggled to provide adequate, safe housing for the arriving asylum seekers in addition to other New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. On the West Side, where many of the arrivals have been temporarily housed in hotels, local social services and support organizations are continuing to grapple with city-wide gaps in financial and structural resources to support asylum seekers. Read all of our coverage here.

Unlivable Tenant Conditions at 410 and 412 W46th Street

The damaged roof of 412 W46th St visible from 410
John Reeds and Marc McBarron Kessler on the damaged rooftops of 410 and 412 W46th Street. Photo: Naty Caez

In a microcosm of the city’s tenant rights crisis, the residents of 410 and (now condemned) 412 W46th Street have experienced a years-long nightmare of landlord neglect as they fight to maintain their homes and advocate for basic human living conditions. The pair of buildings, owned by a slew of LLCs including Highpoint Associates and Keystone Management, are currently under threat of being taken over by the city in what’s known as a 7A housing court program and have even appeared on the top of the New York Public Advocate’s Worst Landlords of the Year list. The path to city ownership involves a lengthy legal process — and in the meantime, residents are facing deplorable living conditions including a lack of heat and hot water, rotting ceilings and walls, open windows, doors and mailboxes and abandoned decaying apartments where squatters have taken hold. Read all of our coverage here.

Is the End of New York City Horse Carriages Near?

New York Carriage Horse driver pulls his carriage without Ryder on 9th Avenue.
A New York carriage horse driver pulls his carriage after his horse collapsed on 9th Avenue. Photo: James Anthony

Horse carriages transporting sightseers have been a New York tradition for over a century, but they are under fire as allegations of unsafe animal working conditions and neglect came to the forefront amid hotly-debated videos of horses in distress. After carriage horse Ryder collapsed on a hot 9th Avenue street corner this summer and later died, it was revealed he was much older than the recommended age for working horses. The revelation led to calls growing louder for New York City Council to ban the practice, although legislation has yet to pass. Read all of our coverage here.

Record-High Rents Rock Residents

Apartments for Rent Hell's kitchen
Rents have never been higher in Hell’s Kitchen. Photo: Phil O’Brien

After two years of pandemic-related concessions, rents in 2022 soared to near-unlivable highs — especially on the West Side, where tenants faced massive lease renewal increases and an average of $5,000 a month rent. While prices have flattened slightly, a shortage of housing coupled with still-high prices have left many Hell’s Kitchen residents struggling to figure out their next move. Read all of our coverage here.

Local Leaders Battle Against Blocks-Long “Dark Stores”

GoPuff Deliveries W57th Street
A GoPuff delivery driver. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Amid a multitude of commercial real estate vacancies, in 2022 one pandemic zombie popped up seemingly everywhere across the West Side — customer-free “dark stores”, otherwise known as 15-minute delivery retailers like Fridge No More, Buyk, GoPuff and Getir. Taking over large swaths of the city’s streets, the controversial stores caught the attention of local leaders like City Council Member Gale Brewer, who argued that the spaces violated local zoning laws by not allowing public sales and created dangerous working conditions for drivers expected to make lightning-fast deliveries. And while several of the dark stores went as quickly as they came, felled by the financial collapse of their Russian backers amid the Ukraine invasion, there are still several West Side locations open today. Read all of our coverage here.

Locals Fight for Pedestrian Safety on Busy Hell’s Kitchen Avenues

9th Avenue Hell's Kitchen
9th Avenue is getting new bike lanes and pedestrian safety measures. Photo: Phil O’Brien

One of the city’s worst-ranked neighborhoods for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, Hell’s Kitchen pedestrian advocates continue to fight for expanded bike lanes, intersection safety measures and expanded enforcement for reckless driving. And as the Department of Transportation’s 9th Avenue pedestrian improvements remain unfinished, Community Board 4’s Transportation Committee has proposed additional safety measures for notorious stretches of 10th Avenue. Read all of our coverage here.

Smoke Shops Light Up in Hell’s Kitchen

9th Avenue Smoke Shops
The many smoke shops of 9th Avenue. Photo: Phil O’Brien

While New York’s marijuana legalization process slowly moves toward the installation of licensed dispensaries, “grey-market” smoke shops have sprouted up like, well, weeds across the West Side. As the city’s Office of Cannabis Management works to establish guidelines and regulations for enforcement of off-label stores (many of which have been found to have contaminated or diluted product), others wonder if the door that’s been opened can no longer be shut. Read all of our coverage here.

W42ST’s Best Of Awards Celebrate the Resilience of Local Businesses and Hell’s Kitchen Heroes

Luisa Cerutti Domus Store W42ST Best of Awards 2022 Brad Hoylman
Phil O’Brien, Luisa Cerutti of Domus and State Senator Brad Hoylman at the W42ST Best Of Awards.

Lest we forget the good news of 2022, it was another wonderful year for honoring Hell’s Kitchen’s favorite businesses and local heroes at this year’s W42ST Best Of Awards. Readers, local leaders and entrepreneurs gathered at The Intrepid Museum to salute the many West Siders who have tirelessly helped the area — and New York — on its way to recovery. Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners and read more about the ceremony here.

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