As an Emmy Award-winning investigative journalist, Leslie Boghosian Murphy traveled the world. But home is Hell’s Kitchen, and since she moved to the neighborhood 17 years ago, Leslie has been fighting on its behalf. She is a member of the executive committee of Community Board 4.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I am a 3rd generation New Yorker. My grandparents fled Armenian genocide and landed here in NYC, not knowing a stitch of English. My dad grew up in Queens, the son of a window washer, and is a City College grad. He and my mom opened a small cheese shop in Jersey, where I grew up. I’ve now been in the same Hell’s Kitchen prewar apartment for the past 17 years.
How did you end up in Hell’s Kitchen?
I was young, single and working in the city. I fell in love with HK and knew this was where I wanted to live. I scraped and saved every last penny to buy my own place but the apartments around here were out of my price range. I stumbled upon a unit for sale that was converted into a production office with no kitchen and barely a bathroom. Hell’s Kitchen was still very up and coming, but it was authentic and fun. My apartment was beat up and needed a lot of work but it was MINE.
What’s your favorite thing about Hell’s Kitchen?
The diversity and sense of community. People here say what they mean and mean what they say.
And what’s your Hell’s Kitchen pet peeve?
Uneven curb ramps! Our streets are under constant construction and when they add the new ramps, many are installed unevenly. I am so annoyed by this that I go around taking pictures of the violators.
Did you stay put when the pandemic hit or did you find an escape for some of the time?
We were here in the city part of the time but also spent time with my family in New Jersey to help with distance learning for my 3 nephews and daughter.
What did you do for work pre-COVID? What are you doing now?
I spent over 20 years as an investigative journalist and proud SAG-AFTRA member. I traveled the globe, working with world leaders and dealing with issues like food security in Africa, new green energies in Europe and humanitarian relief efforts in Venezuela and Sri Lanka. My career culminated in an Emmy award for my coverage of the Harlem Little League.
It’s been a privilege to shine a light on people and places that needed a voice, and eight years ago I began doing that in my own backyard. From joining my co-op board to becoming a member of Community Board 4’s Executive committee, it’s been meaningful and important work to put down deep roots and make a difference in my community.
What’s the most interesting thing that you’ve learned during the pandemic?
How little we actually need to survive and thrive. And distance learning stinks (if you’re a parent, you feel me).
Tell us one thing that’s given you hope during the pandemic?
Our neighborhood is strong and we care about one another. Without a doubt.
What’s the most serendipitous (random/obscure/ insane) experience that’s happened to you in Hell’s Kitchen?
While going through old photos of HK for a project, we stumbled on one we think might be my father-in-law in front of his apartment as a young boy. He grew up in Hell’s Kitchen in the ‘40s. He’s passed away so we can never really verify but we like to think it’s him.
What’s your closest brush with world fame and celebrity?
As a reporter, dealing with celebrity personalities was not uncommon but randomly I have two favorites — I was walking past the Museum of Television and Radio and out came Jackie O. I recognized her immediately with her white jeans and signature sunglasses. I walked a couple of blocks out of my way, I was so mesmerized.
One New Year’s Eve my friends and I went to take the subway uptown. Sitting in our car were Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow when they were dating. We were young and we thought it was cool. It was a long time ago.
What’s your superpower?
I have crazy reflexes.
What song do you sing at the top of your voice in the shower?
Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners
Which people inspire you the most?
The women who did it all before me.
What’s your favorite quote or saying?
“Life is short. Do stuff that matters.” — Siqi Chen
Do you love Times Square? Why, or why not?
I think I’m the only local that likes Times Square on New Year’s Eve. I feel the sense of excitement in the neighborhood and that the whole world is watching our little area.
Do you love Hudson Yards? Why, or why not?
Love is a strong word but any place that brings in foot traffic right now is a positive.
If you could bring one thing (person/place/event) back to HK that is no longer around, what would it be?
The 9th Ave. International Food Festival.
Add your shameless plug or personal profile?
I am running for City Council here in District 3 and am fighting to bring Hell’s Kitchen the care and attention it deserves. We need to prioritize getting our small businesses and arts community back on track and revive our neighborhood recovering from COVID. I’m ready to help do that.
HELL’S KITCHEN HAPPY PLACES
Sullivan Street Bakery (W47th bw 10th & 11th Ave)
Good food, great people. Jim & Maya have been a big reason why Hell’s Kitchen is so wonderful. And their bread is world famous.
Pier 96 and the free kayaking at the Manhattan Community Boathouse (W56th & Hudson River Park)
I love the Hudson River and Hudson River Park. I’m on CB4’s Waterfront, Parks & Environment Committee and I know how precious green spaces are here in HK. We are so lucky to have access to great outdoor spaces nearby.
Amy’s Bread (9th Ave bw W46th & 47th St)
I used to go in for the treats and now I go in to talk to Paul. A quick trip turns into a 20-minute gabfest and I love it. And the tuna melt is back!
DeWitt Clinton Park dog run (W54th St & 11th Ave)
I bring my dog Bailey here and he can run for hours. Would love to help give it a sprucing up, if elected.
The back space at UT47 (W47th & 9th Ave)
My friend Rebecca introduced me to this space and I feel it’s my personal secret space although everyone knows about it. And it might have the best breakfast sandwiches in HK. Woman-owned and operated!