Hell’s Kitchen Radio Show

For a couple of years my friend, Casey Farrell, and I have been talking about doing a radio show. Every time we converse we end up doing an hour long radio show – that is out of this world. No one talks about what we talk about. What about hardboiled broadcast from Hell’s Kitchen that will try to get to the nitty gritty about everything? Is the world coming to an end. Does COVID-19 have a Black Mary?

25 Cent Pay Radio

Posted on July 19, 2012by Royal Rosamond Press

I lived in the Saint George Hotel on 13th. Street New York City, two doors down from Broadway. Everything was painted a Juvy Green, a color Bill Arnold coined after his stay in Juvenile Hall for stealing a car and leading the Oakland Cops on a wild chase up Trestle Glen Blvd. There were shots fired. Bill jumped out of car and knocked a cop to the ground with the door, and got away. A fink turned him in.

There was a marble fireplace that was blocked off. Above it was an old mirror that was losing its reflection, there dark cancerous blotches all over it that were like black holes sucking reality out of the room. This mirror had seen alot. But what was truly haunting was the old pay radio by the bed made out of pressed board painted the same Juvy Green. No one wanted to steal this thing, this robber of the airwaves that anticipated the internet, cable, and Ipod. I rarely had a quarter to play it I living on $8.89 cent day. This room cost $6.00 dollars a night. I ate two meals, one at the buffet two blocks away that cost $1.25, and the other at a cafe on 5th. street and Broadway where I had a breakfast for $1.25. I bought a pack of cigarettes for .25 cents. That left me with $.14 cents which went for a candy bar and cup of coffee when I took my 20 minute lunch break at work around 3:40 A.M. Sometimes I would grab a $.15 cent hotdog at Nehis at the subway station with the 4 cents I saved up.

In 1963 I worked in Hell’s Kitchen at Yale Transport located on the Hudson River at 40th. street and 12th avenue from 12 AM to 8 AM. I was seventeen years and three months old. Manpower Inc. gave me two tokens to get to work and back. They sent a forty year old black man with me who was castrated down south for talking to a white woman. If he was a with a white guy, his chances of being jumped by a Westend gang, was not as likely. We were always ready for a fight. We played it cool. We worked together unloading trucks in the middle of winter. I had no money for winter clothes. My foreman was once a heavyweight boxer with a flat nose. Walking in the snow through the wharehouses, was other worldly.

Sometimes I would put a quarter in the radio, and fall asleep about 11 A.M. to a half hour of music. I was so tired I would not wake till around 10 P.M. I bought books around the corner for a nickle. I read Jewish survival autobiographies. My Christ Complex got started here.

If my mother had lent me a $100 dollars, I could have gotten this room for $90 dollars a month which would have given me extra quarters to hear music. I was paying $150 a month. If Rosmeary had shown me some mercy, I could have had $2 more dollars a day which would have allowed me to take the subway out to Far Rockaway on my day off which I could not afford to take. I worked seven days a week.

The day my mother said she could not help me, and I was on my own, I mixed the flour in a cup and made myself a unleavened pancake. It was my Passover. I would never take my mother’s victimhood serious again. She deserved everything she got.

Today, the Saint George Hotel, Yale transport, and the pay radio, is gone. However, in my novel ‘The Gideon Computer’ that I began in 1986, I move that radio to an old hotel room in downtown Oakland, turn it into a computer, and put this message on it;

“Talk tome Pilgrim”

The year is 2000.

I lived in New York for nine months. Today, a millionaire can not afford the lifestyle I enjoyed. I was a real New Yorker, even though my co-workers called me ‘The California Kid’. When tough westend stevedores give you a moniker, you are a Made Man. The idea I could get a job anyhwere in the world, was awesome! I had my passport.

The California Kid sounds like a prize fighter. In 1968 I returned to the Saint George Hotle and took on Max The Mafia. We played a game of chess as he held a gun to my friend Keith’s head. I lost the chess game, but won the life of my best friend. I could have run. But, I am a Fighter from Hells Kitchen.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2012

Jon Presco

Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan

View from between 47th and 48th streets on Ninth Avenue looking northeast toward Time Warner Center and Hearst TowerHell’s Kitchen, also known as Clinton and Midtown West, is a neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City between 34th Street and 59th Street, from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River.[1]

The neighborhood provides transportation, hospital and warehouse infrastructure support to the Midtown Manhattan business district. Its gritty reputation kept real estate prices below those of most other areas of Manhattan until the early 1990s. Since then, rents have increased enormously, and are currently above the Manhattan average.[2]

West Side StoryDuring the 1950s, immigrants, notably Puerto Ricans, moved into the neighborhood. The conflict between the Irish, Italians, and the Puerto Ricans is highlighted in West Side Story. The movie was filmed from 65th Street and 69th Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenue, north of Hell’s Kitchen. Part of the sites seen are old P. S. 94 on the corner of 68th Street and Amsterdam Avenue and St. Michael’s Church. The movie was filmed during the demolition of this area that was to become Lincoln Center.

In 1959, an aborted rumble between rival Irish and Puerto Rican gangs led to the notorious “Capeman” murders in which two innocent teenagers were killed.

By 1965, Hell’s Kitchen was the home base of the Westies, a deeply violent Irish American crew aligned with the Gambino crime family. It was not until the early 1980s that widespread gentrification began to alter the demographics of the longtime working-class Irish American neighborhood. The 1980s also saw an end to the Westies’ reign of terror, when the gang lost all of its power after the RICO convictions of most of its principals in 1986.

Today Hell’s Kitchen is an increasingly upscale neighborhood of actors and affluent young professionals, as well as residents from the ‘old days’. It has also acquired a large diverse community as residents have moved north from Chelsea.

The rough-and-tumble days on the West Side figure prominently in Damon Runyon’s stories and the childhood home of Marvel Comics’ Daredevil. Various Manhattan ethnic conflicts formed the basis of the musical and film West Side Story.

Once a bastion of poor and working-class Irish Americans, Hell’s Kitchen has changed over the last three decades of the 20th century and into the new millennium because it is near Midtown. The 1969 edition of the Plan for New York City book by the City Planning Commission said that development pressures related to its Midtown location were driving people of modest means from the area. Today, many actors live in the neighborhood because it is near the Broadway theaters and Actors Studio training school.

[edit] Geography
New York Passenger Ship Terminal in Hell’s Kitchen at 52nd Street.”Hell’s Kitchen” generally refers to the area from 34th to 59th streets. Starting west of 8th Avenue, city zoning regulations generally limit buildings to 6 stories. As a result, most of the buildings are older, often walk-ups. For the most part, the neighborhood encompasses the ZIP codes 10019 and 10036. The post office for 10019 is called Radio City Station, the original name for Rockefeller Center on Sixth Avenue.

Southern boundary: Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea overlap and are often lumped together as the West Side since they support the Midtown Manhattan business district. The traditional dividing line is 34th Street. The transition area just north of Madison Square Garden and Pennsylvania Station includes the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
Eastern boundary: The neighborhood overlaps the Times Square theater district to the east at Eighth Avenue. On its southeast border, it overlaps the Garment District also on Eighth Avenue. Here, two landmarks reside – the New Yorker Hotel and the dynamic Manhattan Center building (at the northwest corner of 34th Street and Eighth Avenue). Included in the transition area on Eighth Avenue are the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street, the Pride of Manhattan Fire Station (from which 15 firefighters died at the World Trade Center), several theaters including Studio 54, the original soup stand of Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, and the Hearst Tower.
Northern boundary: The neighborhood edges toward the southern boundary of the Upper West Side, and 57th Street is considered by some the traditional northern boundary. However the neighborhood often is considered to extend to 59th Street (the southern edge of Central Park starting at Eighth Avenue) where the avenue names change. Included in the 57th to 59th Street transition area are the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where John Lennon died in 1980 after being shot, and John Jay College.
Western boundary: The western boundary is the Hudson River.
[edit] Name
Hell’s Kitchen gear for sale in the Video Cafe on Ninth AvenueSeveral explanations exist for the original name. An early use of the phrase appears in a comment Davy Crockett made about another notorious Irish slum in Manhattan, Five Points. According to the Irish Cultural Society of the Garden City Area:

When, in 1835, Davy Crockett said, “In my part of the country, when you meet an Irishman, you find a first-rate gentleman; but these are worse than savages; they are too mean to swab hell’s kitchen.” He was referring to the Five Points.[3]

According to an article by Kirkley Greenwell, published online by the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association:

No one can pin down the exact origin of the label, but some refer to a tenement on 54th Street as the first “Hell’s Kitchen.” Another explanation points to an infamous building at 39th as the true original. A gang and a local dive took the name as well…. a similar slum also existed in London and was known as Hell’s Kitchen.[4]

Local historian Mary Clark explained the name thus:

…first appeared in print on September 22, 1881 when a New York Times reporter went to the West 30s with a police guide to get details of a multiple murder there. He referred to a particularly infamous tenement at 39th Street and 10th Avenue as “Hell’s Kitchen,” and said that the entire section was “probably the lowest and filthiest in the city.” According to this version, 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues became known as Hell’s Kitchen and the name was later expanded to the surrounding streets. Another version ascribes the name’s origins to a German restaurant in the area known as Heil’s Kitchen, after its proprietors. But the most common version traces it to the story of Dutch Fred The Cop, a veteran policeman, who with his rookie partner, was watching a small riot on West 39th Street near 10th Avenue. The rookie is supposed to have said, “This place is hell itself,” to which Fred replied, “Hell’s a mild climate. This is Hell’s Kitchen.”[5]

[edit] Alternative names
Public housingHell’s Kitchen has stuck as the general and informal name of the neighborhood even though real estate developers have offered alternatives of Clinton and Midtown West or even “the Mid-West”. The Clinton name, used by the municipality of New York City, originated in 1959 in an attempt to link the area to DeWitt Clinton Park at 52nd and 11th Avenue, named after the 19th century New York governor.

[edit] History This section needs additional citations for verification. (November 2008)

Mission house, Hell’s Kitchen, c1915On the island of Manhattan as it was when Europeans first saw it, the Great Kill (Dutch: Grote Kil, Middle Dutch: Groote Kille), which formed from three small streams that united near 10th Avenue and 40th street, wound through the low-lying Reed Valley renowned for fish and waterfowl[6] to empty into the Hudson River at a deep bay on the river at the present 42nd Street.[7] The name was retained in a tiny hamlet, Great Kill, that became a center for carriage-making, as the upland to the south and east became known as Longacre, the predecessor of Longacre, now Times Square.[8] One of the large farms of the colonial era in this neighborhood was that of Andreas Hopper and his descendants; it spanned the distance between today’s 48th Street nearly to 59th Street and stretched from the river east to what is now Sixth Avenue. One of the Hopper farmhouses, built in 1752 for John Hopper the younger, stood near 53rd Street and 11th Avenue; christened “Rosevale” for its extensive gardens, it was the home of the War of 1812 veteran, Gen. Garrit Hopper Striker, and lasted until 1896, when it was demolished; the site was purchased for the city and naturalistically landscaped by Samuel Parsons Jr. as DeWitt Clinton Park. In 1911 New York Hospital bought a full city block largely of the Hopper property, between 54th and 55th Street, Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues.[9] Beyond the railroad track, projecting into the river at 54th Street, was Mott’s Point, with an 18th-century Mott family house, surrounded by gardens, that was inhabited by members of the family until 1884 and survived until 1895.[10]

A lone surviving structure that dates from the time this area was open farmland and suburban villas is the carriage house (pre-1800) that once belonged to a villa owned by ex-Vice President and New York State governor George Clinton, now in a narrow court behind 422 West 46th Street.[11] From 1811 until it was officially de-mapped the ghostly Bloomingdale Square was part of the city’s intended future; it extended from 53rd to 57th Streets between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. It was eliminated in 1857 after the establishment of Central Park,[12] and the name shifted to the junction of Broadway, West End Avenue, and 106th Street, now Straus Park. In 1825, for $10 the City purchased clear title to a right-of-way through John Leake Norton’s[13] farm, “The Hermitage”, to lay out 42nd Street clear to the river. Before long, cattle ferried from Weehawken were being driven along the unpaved route, to slaughterhouses on the East Side.[14] Seventy acres of the Leake, later Norton property, extending north from 42nd to 46th Street and from Broadway to the river, had been purchased before 1807 by John Jacob Astor and William Cutting, who held it before dividing it into building lots as the district became more suburban.

The first change that began to unite the area more closely to New York City was the construction of the Hudson River Railroad, which completed the forty miles to Peekskill on 29 September 1849, to Poughkeepsie by the end of that year, and extended to Albany in 1851. As far as 60th Street, the track ran at street grade up 11th Avenue, before the independent riverside roadbed commenced.[15]

“Hell’s Kitchen and Sebastopol” circa 1890 photographed by Jacob RiisThe formerly rural riverfront was transformed for industrial uses such as tanneries that could discharge their effluent into the river and ship their production by the rails. Hence the beginnings of the neighborhood of the southern part of the 22nd Ward, which would become known as Hell’s Kitchen, start in the mid-19th century, when immigrants from Ireland, most of whom were refugees from the Great Famine, began settling on the west side of Manhattan in shantytowns along the Hudson River. Many of these immigrants found work on the docks nearby, or along the railroad that carried freight into the city along 11th Avenue.

After the American Civil War the population increased dramatically, as tenements were erected and increased immigration added to the neighborhood’s congestion. Many in this poverty stricken area turned to gang life and the neighborhood soon became known as the “most dangerous area on the American Continent”. At the turn of the century, the neighborhood was controlled by gangs, including the violent Gopher Gang led by the notorious Owney Madden.[16]

The violence escalated during the 1920s, as Prohibition was implemented. The many warehouses in the district served as ideal breweries for the rumrunners who controlled the illicit liquor. Gradually the earlier gangs such as the Hell’s Kitchen Gang were transformed into organized crime entities around the same time that Owney Madden became one of the most powerful mobsters in New York.

After the Repeal of Prohibition, many of the organized crime elements moved into other rackets, such as illegal gambling and union shakedowns. The postwar era was characterized by a flourishing waterfront, and work as a longshoreman was plentiful. By the end of the 1950s, however, the implementation of containerized shipping led to the decline of the West Side piers and many longshoremen found themselves out of work. In addition, the construction of the Lincoln Tunnel had devastated much of Hell’s Kitchen to the south of 39th Street.[17]

[edit] West Side StoryDuring the 1950s, immigrants, notably Puerto Ricans, moved into the neighborhood. The conflict between the Irish, Italians, and the Puerto Ricans is highlighted in West Side Story. The movie was filmed from 65th Street and 69th Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenue, north of Hell’s Kitchen. Part of the sites seen are old P. S. 94 on the corner of 68th Street and Amsterdam Avenue and St. Michael’s Church. The movie was filmed during the demolition of this area that was to become Lincoln Center.

In 1959, an aborted rumble between rival Irish and Puerto Rican gangs led to the notorious “Capeman” murders in which two innocent teenagers were killed.

By 1965, Hell’s Kitchen was the home base of the Westies, a deeply violent Irish American crew aligned with the Gambino crime family. It was not until the early 1980s that widespread gentrification began to alter the demographics of the longtime working-class Irish American neighborhood. The 1980s also saw an end to the Westies’ reign of terror, when the gang lost all of its power after the RICO convictions of most of its principals in 1986.

Today Hell’s Kitchen is an increasingly upscale neighborhood of actors and affluent young professionals, as well as residents from the ‘old days’. It has also acquired a large diverse community as residents have moved north from Chelsea.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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