Happy Thursday. It’s relatively “warm” today — we’re going to be seeing wind chill on Friday and Saturday that will freeze your socks off.
I was moved by the reaction to our story yesterday about the Martin Luther King Jr Labor Building and its powerful mosaic that’s slated for demolition soon. Speaking at the Manhattan Community Board 4 (MCB4) Land Use Committee last night, member Chris LeBron shared that he had been to see the replicated mural at the new 1199SEIU building on 7th Avenue — and understood that it was inevitable that the building and mural would be lost to the neighborhood.
However, he pleaded: “As a Puerto Rican, and from a child being raised in a union family, it’s unfortunate that we can’t find anything to tell the story of that mosaic or the name of the Martin Luther King labor building. I would love a plaque to capture that Hell’s Kitchen’s history is being lost. Public art is incredibly important, and when public art tells the story of labor, it moves me to my heart. Please, please, please, I beg you to find a way to tell the story of this building, labor, and that mosaic.” The architects responded that they will consider this proposal. The plan will go to the full board of MCB4 early in March.
When I moved to New York just over 8 years ago, I landed for 2 months in an Airbnb at W37th and 9th. I looked at the map and it said that the area was somewhere between Clinton and Chelsea (Hell’s Kitchen had been excluded from the maps in those days for fear of scaring off tourists!).
Since then, I’ve learned more about local history — and the area below 42nd Street west of the Port Authority and the Lincoln Tunnel is actually the core of Hell’s Kitchen. Despite the Tunnel ripping out the residential heart in the 1930s, history runs deep. It’s the view of many that the district is named after rookeries (shanties) on W39th and 10th called “Hell’s Kitchen” — not the story of Dutch Fred, the cop, telling a young colleague that the area was “hotter than hell, it’s hell’s kitchen.” These days, the bigger fight is that property developers (and Streeteasy) call the area below W42nd Street Hudson Yards — to try and get property prices up!
Thanks, Adair, for sending me a lyrical New Yorker essay by a long-term resident of that area, Rivka Galchen. It had not appeared in any of my news monitoring, as at no point does it mention Hell’s Kitchen by name. It has many glowing references to Esposito’s, Big Apple Meat Market, and Two Bros Pizza though.
New Yorker in its tweet calls it “the nameless section of Manhattan” and in its headline “living in New York’s unloved neighborhood.” Thoughts…?
What we’ve been reading
MTA cannot work out how to clean without continued overnight closures. (New York Daily News)
Restaurant workers can get vaccinated now — but how easy is it to achieve? (Grub Street)
Ahoy there! Fleet Week will be virtual again this year. (NY1)
If you’ve been wondering how Hudson Yards is faring during the pandemic, read on… (New York Times)
SUP-ing from Pier 84. (West Side Rag)
Thank you Matthew Wexler for this cute picture of Luey captioned “What a perfect day to stay in bed. Don’t you agree?”