Originally the expression "Hell's Kitchen" referred to a rough neighborhood on the South Side of London. The term in reference to New York first appeared in print on September 22, 1881 when a New York Times reporter went to a police guide to get details of a multiple murder there. He referred to a particular 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.
One 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."
In recent years, some real estate developers and others have advocated replacing the name Hell's Kitchen with the name Clinton. This suggestion has met with considerable resistance, however, and the name Hell's Kitchen is still in widespread use.