A 1920s Hell’s Kitchen street scene

Artist and Hell’s Kitchen resident Harry Wickey etched this dark, moody moment in time on Ninth Avenue circa 1923. 

The Ninth Avenue El, dismantled in 1940, looms large in the background. It was the city’s first elevated railway, starting at Greenwich Street and traveling up Ninth Avenue to Columbus Avenue and 155th Street.

Wickey, who switched to sculpture after etching acids damaged his sight, wrote in his autobiography about how he “changed from an Ohio farm boy into an enthusiastic resident of Hell’s Kitchen, New York’s tough area along the Hudson River,” according to a Life article from 1942.

“There Wickey now lives with his wife in three rooms where he can watch the slum kids, housewives, tramps, and tavern topers whom he has transformed into bronze.”

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3 Responses to “A 1920s Hell’s Kitchen street scene”

  1. R Becklund Says:

    I lived in NYC for a few years, love reading about the interesting history–thanks!

  2. Jo Says:

    Thanks for the details on the 9th Avenue El. I’m working on a book set in the 20s the knowing the El was still running gives me a great point of research and writing.

  3. monicapotts44 @hotmail.com Says:

    My father and his brother from Liverpool lived in Hells Kitchen in the early 20s it is quite emotional seeing the street scenes

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