- (in New York City) a section of midtown Manhattan, west of Times Square, formerly notorious for its slums and high crime rate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
disreputable, impoverished New York City neighborhood, the name attested from 1879. The phrase was used from at least 1866 as an intensive form of Hell.
Hell's kitchen (American), a horrible slum. Hell's Kitchen, Murderer's Row, and the Burnt Rag are names of localities which form collectively the worst place in New York. [Albert Barrère and Charles G. Leland, "A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant," 1889]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper