The popular Clinton neighborhood of today was formerly referred to as Hell’s Kitchen, and for most of the 20th century, it suffered a reputation as a run down area. However, beginning with the late 1990s, the area from West 34th Street to West 59th Street between Fifth Avenue and the Hudson has undergone a transformation and has emerged as a perfect example of a desirable, trendy, vibrant neighborhood that has it all.
Comprised of approximately 20 streets lined with charming brick row houses and distinctive brownstones, lush trees and garden boxes, Clinton is a neighborhood that has recently undergone even more transformation with the addition of several luxury high-rise residential buildings on Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Avenues. The area is filled with a diversity of residents that range from descendants of European immigrants of previous centuries to a more recent Latin American and Asian transition. Its homogenous housing known for predominantly five- or six-story walkups is renowned throughout the city, especially since different features are apparent inside each apartment. Newly-renovated buildings provide much more bathroom, kitchen and closet space than the older designs, and are just as sought after. Clinton residents are extremely loyal to their neighborhood, tend to live there for a lifetime, and are happy to have found a once-raw yet still-valuable gem in the middle of Manhattan. Many also stay active in politics and area preservation, which includes the Special District Clinton Coalition that has effectively prevented large-scale development in the area to help retain the quaintness of its appeal. Neighborhood History
Since the turn of the century, the Times Square area has been the city’s main theater district. Before then, it was New York’s horse-trading center, known as Long Acre Square. The arrival of the subway and the New York Times, then a less prestigious paper which moved there in exchange for having its name grace the square, brought drastic change. On December 31, 1904, the Times celebrated the opening of its new headquarters at Times Tower on West 42nd Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue. Today One Times Square Plaza is topped with the world’s most famous rooftop pole, down which a 200-pound illuminated ball falls each New Year’s Eve to the screaming public below. Though a much-welcome clean-up has taken place, some things never change, and never should…current zoning still requires that buildings be decked out with ads as they have been for nearly a century. The history of the name “Hell’s Kitchen” is one of street legend. Supposedly two policemen watching a street fight one muggy summer night gave the district its original name. One said, “This neighborhood is hot as hell;” the other corrected him saying, “Hell is cool. This here is Hell’s Kitchen.” Later, the name Clinton was given to the area because of its association with DeWitt Clinton, a nephew of first New York State Governor George Clinton, who owned the farmland back in late 18th century.
Most New Yorkers know the noisy, busy Garment district, a loosely-defined area between Madison and Eighth Avenues in the west 30s, as a purely commercial area. While that’s mostly what it is, the lack of affordable space has driven demand to the lofts in the area, especially where renters looking to both live and work there are concerned. The Garment District took shape during the late 19th century, when new laws drove clothing manufacturers out of Lower Manhattan tenements and into manufacturing lofts. Originally, the garment industry was clustered around Madison Square, but when that area became fashionable the trade was forced to expand westward.
For much of the 20th century, New York’s Garment District was the busiest hub for fashion production in the world. Walk along Seventh Avenue as you pass through the area and you’ll see the subtitle “Fashion Avenue” still remaining. The American garment industry as a whole has shrunk due to cheap imported goods, with the New York sector further threatened by transportation difficulties and high labor costs. Until recent years the entire industry, from designers to cutters, seamstresses and marketing professionals, stayed within the district’s borders, but with more recent gentrification and a changing workforce, many manufacturers have moved their operations to cheaper quarters in Chinatown and elsewhere in the city, leaving only their showrooms behind.
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