I came across this map of Manhattan neighborhoods. If not accurate at least it is colorful.
Note: Clinton is now part of Hell’s Kitchen and only “old-timers” know White Hall – now Battery Park.
For an island of only 24 square miles, Manhattan sure has a lot of neighborhoods. Many have distinct monikers that might not seem intuitive to the lay-tourist, or even to a lifelong New Yorker. Here’s where the names of New York’s most famous ‘hoods came from.
HELL’S KITCHEN VS. CLINTON
In recent decades, businesses and real estate agents have tried in vain to clean up the lively reputation of this west side neighborhood by renaming it “Clinton.” Gentrification and expansion from the neighboring theater district have certainly helped the beautification cause. Nonetheless, the area spanning 34th Street to 59th Street and 8th Avenue (or 9th, depending on who you ask) to the Hudson River just can’t shake the nickname “Hell’s Kitchen.”
At one time not so long ago, Hell’s Kitchen lived up to the nightmarish implications of its name—and then some—but the actual origins of the name have become something of folklore. One legend involves a seasoned cop and a green cop watching a riot take place in the heart of the neighborhood. The story goes that the young cop remarked, “This place is hell itself!” to which the older cop responded “Hell is a mild climate. This is hell’s kitchen.”
For a neighborhood with such a rich artistic and cultural history, the origins of its name are rather muted.
Harlem is a modification of the name Haarlem, a city in the Netherlands after which this former Dutch village was named. The neighborhood is huge, beginning at 110th Street between 5th and 8th Avenues, and from 125th Street up to 155th Street from 5th Avenue to the water, and eventually from the East River to the Hudson River.
The heart of bohemia in 1960s New York, this lower Manhattan neighborhood has the Dutch and the British to thank for its name.
Greenwich comes for the Dutch word “Greenwijck” which means “Pine District.” When the Dutch ran New York (or New Amsterdam, as they called it), a Dutch man named Yellis Mandeville purchased property in the Village. He allegedly renamed the area after another village on Long Island by the same name. The first recorded appearance of this name change appeared in Yellis’ will at the turn of the 1700s; the name has since been Anglicized to Greenwich. “The Village,” as it’s often now called, extends from 14th Street to Houston Street and from Broadway west to the Hudson River.
A quarter century before the American Revolution, retired British Major Thomas Clarke bought 94 acres of land located between what is now 21st and 24th Streets, and from 8th Avenue to the water. He built a home on the property and named it “Chelsea,” after a veterans’ hospital and retirement home for elderly soldiers located in Britain.
The name Chelsea has hung around long enough to become the official name of the neighborhood, which currently extends from 14th Street up to 30th Street, and from 6th Avenue to the water
Many districts make up the island of Manhattan, but the names of a few in particular have become part of the geographic vernacular.
The Flatiron District has the triangular shaped Flatiron Building on 23rd Street to thank for its eponym.
The “Meatpacking District” name has a very literal beginning.
In the late 1800s, New York decided to name two acres of lower Manhattan’s west side after General Peter Gansevoort. This area became a commercial district, known as Gansevoort Market. By 1900, the market would boast more than 250 slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants.
Th GarmentDistrict is only one square mile, this midtown west area located just below Times Square (from 34th to 40th Streets, between Sixth and Ninth Avenues) housed half of New York City’s garment plants in the early 20th century
There are many sections of Manhattan that have names associated with the past. It may be interesting to find out more – can be very interesting reading.
Morningside Heights – Washington Heights – Hamilton Heights
Turtle Bay – Kips Bay
Though technically not neighborhoods, the names of these rectangular city hubs have a few stories—and mysteries—of their own.
Times Square – Union Square – Lincoln Square Herald Square –
Madison Square (no where near the “Garden”) – Washington Square
Finally there are the original acronym neighborhoods, which popped up throughout lower Manhattan and have a reputation for hipness. They’re also pretty handy helpers for learning downtown geography:
SoHo: SOuth of HOuston StreetI
NoHo: NOrth of HOuston
Tribeca: the TRIangle BElow CAnal Street
Nolita: NOrth of Little ITAly