An Upper East Side enclave called Hellgate Hill

Most New Yorkers know Hell Gate as the treacherous part of the East River south of Ward’s Island off Astoria and Manhattan’s East 90s.

Here, a confluence of rocks and rough currents once made it a graveyard of ships.

But Hellgate, spelled as one word, used to be a distinct neighborhood too, often called Hellgate Hill.

It was a tiny stretch between 94th and 96th Streets and Lexington and Third Avenues of lovely uniterrupted brownstones.

“The area was named after George Ehret’s Hell Gate Brewery, established in 1866 on East 92nd and 93rd streets between Second and Third avenues,” states a 2011 article in DNAinfo.

“The block was developed in 1878 by Michael Duffy, an alderman in the Tammany Hall era of graft who was indicted for bribery in 1886 but got off for being an informant.”

In 2010, 132 years later, community leaders proposed that Hellgate Hill be granted landmark status, giving this forgotten Upper East Side enclave more visibility.

[Top photo: Lexington and 94th Street in 1911, from the NYPL Digital Collection; bottom photo:]

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6 Responses to “An Upper East Side enclave called Hellgate Hill”

  1. Joe R Says:

    Re Ehret’s Hell Gate Brewery, I just saw a wonderful exhibit at the NY Historical Society. It’s called “Beer Here” and it’s a history of beer and brewing in NYC. It’s pretty amazing to see just how many breweries there once were in Manhattan and Brooklyn. PS: at the end of the exhibit they sell beer and pretzels!

  2. Peter Cox Says:

    Thanks for the article. George Ehret was my great-grandfather, and my mother, grandmother, et al. lived for many years in the Hellgate Hill residence.
    Harpo Marx, living nearby, recounts in his memoirs about seeing my great-grandfather, in his horse drawn carriage, going off to work at the same time every morning.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    thanks for writing in. I have that Harpo book–he has some fascinating memories of the neighborhood!

  4. Dan Says:

    Do you know if the HH landmark status was authorized? Or any recent news?

  5. The most famous summer house in Manhattan | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] $3,700, “he bought 11 acres of rolling land at Horn’s Hook, facing the Hell Gate,” a 1981 Daily News explained, referring to the treacherous section of the East River between […]

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