Hell is a field of condominiums, extending as far as the eye can see; like poppy blossoms in a bomb-riddled Afghani plain; faceless, featureless, nameless towers with nothing between them but sky and emptiness. This section of the street is known as Hell’s Kitchen; an apt name, given that it is a sterile, lifeless kind of residential landscape, punctuated by large storage facilities; a sort of “landfill” – in that the best description of the land here is that it is filled up and nothing more.
The name originated from the days when this used to be an Irish slum. Before the condominal onslaught, the area also used to house actors and professionals in the theatre industry. It still does even today, though only just. Many of these actors have grown up and moved on, or have simply been priced out.
At the edge of the water, being the only burst of colour and theatricality in this wasteland, sits the Circle Line Pier, thronged with tourists and families. In a twist of irony, all ferries taken from this pier inevitably return here, to the edge of this Unreal City, where staring ahead at the storybook facades of houses along the New Jersey waterfront, one realises that there is no escape from the City. None at all.
NEXT MONTH: 79th Street, or Geneva to Zurich Express