Posts Tagged ‘Hell Gate East River’

An Upper East Side enclave called Hellgate Hill

June 4, 2012

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: DNAinfo.com]

New York is a hell of a town

October 22, 2009

More than a few city neighborhoods currently or used to start with “Hell.” Hell’s Kitchen is the most famous—and enduring. (C’mon, does anyone really call it Clinton?)

The nabe’s moniker but it may have first been used in the late 1800s to describe the revolting slums and ferocious gangs in the West 30s and 40s.

Hellgatebridgepostcard

Hell Gate is the name of the once-dangerous tidal strait separating Astoria from Randall’s Island. It’s also a lovely bridge that connects these two land masses across the East River.

Was Hell Gate once the name of the neighborhood on the Manhattan side of the East River too? I’m not sure, but maybe—there’s a Hell Gate Station post office on East 110th Street.

Hellgatepostoffice

And let’s not forget the fantastically named Hell’s Hundred Acres, a gritty term for pre-1970s Soho. The beautiful cast-iron buildings that today house million-dollar lofts were used for decades as warehouses and manufacturing sites. 

Hellshundredacresfire

Safety codes weren’t followed and the buildings allowed to deteriorate, so they often went up in flames—hence the nickname. This photo documents a 1958 fire in a Wooster Street factory that killed six firefighters. Hell’s Hundred Acres indeed.