The name Hell’s Kitchen is taken either from a notorious 1860s gang of that name or from a nickname given to the area by local police in the 1870s. Legend has it that one rookie cop commented to his more seasoned partner, “This place is hell itself.” “Hell’s a mild climate,” his partner replied, “This is hell’s kitchen.”
In the mid-1800s, this West Side neighborhood was home to many industries that served the Hudson River piers, including slaughterhouses, lumberyards, warehouses, and other factories. Impoverished groups of Irish, African-Americans, Scots and Germans moved to shacks and tenements in the area to work at the nearby factories. Many formed gangs and fought to assert themselves in the growing neighborhood, making for frequent violent clashes that earned the area its nickname.