The Hotel Chelsea – Goodbye To An Era

1 Aug

You can no longer stay at The Hotel Chelsea.

As of this past weekend, the doors are no longer open to guests.

According to this article in the New York Times:

Saturday night was, by all indications, the last night that the Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street would be open to guests, though the duration of the closing, the first in its history, was unknown.

Extensive renovations are expected to take at least a year. The hotel’s 100 permanent residents will be allowed to stay, but they have been told nothing beyond what the startled hotel workers learned late last week: that all reservations after Saturday were canceled.”

The hotel’s website is not yet making mention of the closing. It speaks with pride of its history:

The hotel was the first building to be listed by New York City as a cultural preservation site and historic building of note. The twelve-story red-brick building that now houses the Hotel Chelsea was built in 1883 as a private apartment cooperative that opened in 1884; it was the tallest building in New York until 1899.

Owing to its long list of famous guests and residents, the hotel has an ornate history, both as a birth place of creative modern art and home of bad behavior. Bob Dylan composed songs while staying at the Chelsea, and poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso chose it as a place for philosophical and intellectual exchange. It is also known as the place where the writer Dylan Thomas died of alcohol poisoning on in 1953, and where Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols may have stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death on October 12, 1978.

Famous visitors and residents of the Chelsea Hotel include Eugene O’Neil, Thomas Wolfe, and Arthur C. Clarke (who wrote 2001: A Space Oddyssey while in residence). Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and the Grateful Dead passed through the hotels doors in the 1960s.

Virgil Thompson, Larry Rivers, William Burroughs, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Patti Smith, Arthur Miller, Dylan Thomas, Quentin Crisp, and many, many others stayed here too.

Who will be next?” the website asks.

Apparently, not us.

I did stay at the Hotel Chelsea once. It was in the early 90’s – maybe 1992. Before I carried a camera around with me everywhere. I have no photos of that visit – but I remember that they messed our reservation up. My Art Director and I ended up having to share a room; me on a lumpy roll-out cot. The small TV has cigarette burn holes in its plastic top. We ate next door at the Spanish restaurant and I loved their garlic soup.

Ah, memories!

Yes, I also remember loving the horse painting in the lobby

and that the front desk guy was incredibly surly.

The building is to be sold for over $80 million to the developer Joseph Chetrit, though the deal had not closed as of Sunday, according to someone close to the matter, who asked not to be named because the negotiations were confidential.” says the New York Times. “Mr. Chetrit, who did not return calls for comment, is said to want to keep the Chelsea as a hotel, but the plans are unclear.”

Sadly, I’m afraid that after extensive renovations, the place will just not be the same.

Farewell, you grande dame. Long live the Queen.





4 Responses to “The Hotel Chelsea – Goodbye To An Era”

  1. Johnny D August 1, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Nice photos!

    A few more noteworthy residents:

    In the then-controversial documentary called “An American Family” that first aired on PBS in 1973, Bill and Pat Loud are getting divorced after 21 years, and their son (Lance) proclaims himself to be gay, moves to New York, and stays at the Chelsea, where his mother comes to visit him.

    The Jefferson Airplane once recorded a song called “Third Week At The Chelsea” that can be heard on their “Volunteers” album.

    And some musician friends of mine stayed at the Chelsea way back in 1972, while they were recording an album, but they ultimately moved elsewhere after one of the members complained that he kept finding cockroaches in his room.

    • Johnny D August 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

      Correction: The Jefferson Airplane song “Third Week At The Chelsea” was first issued on their “Bark” album. Woof!

    • sallanscorner August 3, 2011 at 10:07 am #

      Thanks for the info!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: