What Happens to a Dream De-Railed?

The Community Attempts to Put the 7-Train Extension Back on Track

Hell’s Kitchen has come too far for the city to fail to build the proposed subway station at 41st Street and 10th Avenue, according to real estate executives, residents and politicians. Without convenient public transportation in the neighborhood, businesses and the recent boom of real estate in the area will suffer, they say.

Subway Lines Through Times Square

The Purple 7 Line currently terminates at Times Square. The blue ACE line only extends across 8th Ave, leaving those in the west as far as 1.6 miles from the nearest subway. A lack of bus service past 10th Ave. exacerbates this problem.

If the city doesn’t build now,” said John Doyle of the Real Estate Board of New York, “it will be increasingly hard to in the future and the market will suffer.  The next few months are crucial.” Continue reading

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A Hipper Hell’s Kitchen

How the Neighborhood has turned from Crime to Chic

Christina Tompkins would do anything to move 20 blocks north to Hell’s Kitchen from her studio in Chelsea.

“There’s just nothing young down there,” says Tompkins, 23, taking a break from her waiting shift at Stecchino on Ninth Avenue and 52nd Street, “I love the energy up here.”

This map shows some of the hip businesses in Hell's Kitchen that are attracting younger residents.

Tompkins is just one of many 20-somethings eager to move to the dynamic “destination” neighborhood.  With a recent surge in restaurants and retail stores, Hell’s Kitchen has attracted younger, wealthier and “hipper” residents, redefining the neighborhood once notorious for drugs and crime.

According to a 2009 study from NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Planning, between 2003 and 2007 the city rezoned the Chelsea/Clinton district to include 26.2 percent more residential capacity.  Comparatively, the Upper West Side was only rezoned to accommodate for an additional 0.6 percent.

Because of increased housing opportunities, Ninth Avenue has transformed into a bustling hub of commerce.  With new restaurants and bars, theatergoers from Times Square, visitors from the suburbs and younger residents have flocked to Hell’s Kitchen.

Continue reading

High Line to Bridge Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen

The High Line Park's design integrates the tracks of the old freight line with winding pedestrian pathways and landscaping.

To the delight of activists, community board members and residents, Hell’s Kitchen is one step closer to connecting with the High Line—the landscaped park built on an abandoned elevated freight line that runs through Chelsea.

Last June, meandering pathways that intertwine with grass, flowers and abandoned train tracks opened to the public as the first section of High Line Park.  While section two is under construction, the city must procure the remaining block of rail tracks, which run from 30th to 34th streets, in order to complete the park’s design. Continue reading

Local Gallery Combats Misconceptions

Personal Portraits and Stigma-Busting Sculptures

Five-year-old Booker Counts gazes at the self-portrait of Issa Ibrahim, on display at Hell’s Kitchen’s Fountain Gallery.

“Why is his face like that?” asks the kindergartner, referring to the subject’s grimace.

Volunteer Debbie Standard explains that Ibrahim suffered from depression.   Although five of his six portraits depict such distorted and despondent figures, she says, “it’s big deal that he’s smiling in this one.”

Ibrahim is one of the hundreds of artists who have been featured at the Fountain Gallery since its founding in 1999.  Modeling its mission on its parent charity, Fountain House, the gallery on 9th avenue and 48th street serves as an outlet for the mentally ill to display and sell their work, while combating common misconceptions about mental illnesses. Continue reading