We made a map — you can too. Last month, Hell’s Kitchen residents reacted with concern and anger to the New York City Districting Commission’s first draft map of new City Council districts. Under the proposal, Hell’s Kitchen would be split between three Council Members — currently, the majority of the area is represented by one, Erik Bottcher.

W42ST’s attempt to create a map that keeps Hell’s Kitchen intact and makes a logical West Side district.

We were deluged with comments from locals — all in agreement that this was a bad idea. Seeking answers as to what could be done to stop this, we have waded through many pages of regulations and presentations. However, we think the best way to present a counterargument is with a map. You can join in too…

First, go to a site called Districtr, which allows you to create your own maps. W42ST has created a map called “Hell’s Kitchen Whole” (thanks Christine Gorman for the idea on the name)! These are the principles we applied…

  1. Neighborhoods and communities of interest should be kept intact. YES, that applies to Hell’s Kitchen
  2. Keep within the ideal district population number (172,881 — with permitted 5% deviation)
  3. Include all of Hell’s Kitchen — which W42ST has always defined as 8th Avenue to the Hudson River and W59th Street down to W34th Street (it was was the border of our magazine cover for over 60 issues).
  4. Don’t split up any other significant neighborhoods while adding in area.
  5. Keep to the principle of this being a West Side district.

With this in mind, we put the bottom of the new district as the end of the High Line at the Whitney Museum. It’s a natural end to what was a heavy dockland and railroad area before all the smaller sidestreets of the Village.

Trump Riverside Waterline Square
The West Side district would extend up to the “Trump” buildings on Riverside and Waterline Square under our proposal. Photo: Phil O’Brien

To the north, we included the West Side Story area of San Juan Hill and Lincoln Center. This also includes the Trump Riverside development, the new Waterline Square and the Amsterdam public housing.

To the east, we would have liked to have made a natural border at 8th Avenue — but the population of the district would not have been high enough. So, we moved one block to make the eastern border 7th Avenue. That seems to bring in Chelsea better —and cutting the area through Times Square (the crossroads of the world) seemed appropriate.

Hell's Kitchen Whole

What do you think? You can check out the details here and make your own.

Meanwhile, here are the things that you can do if you want to make sure Hell’s Kitchen does not get split into THREE!

Check out the Citizens Union presentation, which includes an explanation of the process and emphasizes the importance of keeping neighborhoods and communities of interest intact.

Check out the Redistricting Commission website, which should have the most up-to-date information on the process as it unfolds.

You can read the 24-page Districting Commission’s Staff memorandum, which explains the history of why they chose the lines they did 10 years ago.

If you want to find the demographic data for your area, the NYC Population FactFinder is worth exploring.

One of the key reasons for the maps being redrawn is the changes in the 2020 Census. Click here to see population and demographic data for the 51 City Council districts, and view how it has altered since the last census.

“Redistricting and You” is the site where you can view the contentious first draft of the map from July. You can compare the old council lines with the new draft maps.

Hell's Kitchen District Map
The first draft of the redistricting map split Hell’s Kitchen into three.

Thank you to the Citizens Union for much of this information. Their NYC Council Redistricting Site has even more information, and they will be updating as all this unfolds.

If you would like to submit written testimony, you can do so by emailing PublicTestimony@redistricting.nyc.gov at any time.

On Thursday (8/4), the Hell’s Kitchen Democrats August Zoom meeting from 7:15pm to 8pm will be focusing on redistricting and hearing from Dan Kaminsky of Citizens Union about how to organize, testify and send emails to make sure Hell’s Kitchen is heard. You don’t have to be a member to attend that Zoom.

Back on July 26, The Citizen’s Union gave a presentation to the HK49-54 Block Associations. You can find more details and watch a recording at notra.sh/redistricting

Finally, if you would like a little light relief from all that detail… Back in 2013, in Hell’s Kitchen, Jon Stewart asked questions of Sir Archibald Mapsalot III (aka John Oliver) about the British way of map drawing in the Middle East. There are similarities… In fact, in the present redistricting map, The Daily Show‘s studio will become part of the Upper West Side!

Jon Stewart Sir Archibald Mapsalot III

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *