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The Hotel Chelsea

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The Hotel Chelsea

For the 2009 film, see Hotel Chelsea (film).

Hotel Chelsea
close-up of the facade, showing the cast iron balconies
Hotel Chelsea
Location 222 West 23rd Street, Manhattan, New York City

Coordinates: 40°44′40″N 73°59′48″W / 40.74444°N 73.99667°W / 40.74444; -73.99667

Area Less than one acre
Built 1884
Architect Hubert, Pirsson and Company
Architectural style Queen Anne Revival, Victorian Gothic
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 77000958[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 27, 1977
Designated Template:Designation/abbreviation March 15, 1966

The Hotel Chelsea — also called the Chelsea Hotel, or simply the Chelsea — is a historic New York City hotel and landmark, known primarily for the notability of its residents over the years. Located at 222 West 23rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea, the 250-unit[2] hotel has been the home of numerous writers, musicians, artists, and actors, including Bob Dylan, Virgil Thomson, Brigid Berlin, Charles Bukowski, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Viva, Gaby Hoffmann, Jobriath, and Larry Rivers. Though the Chelsea no longer accepts new long-term residencies, the building is still home to many who lived there before the change in policy. As of August 1, 2011, the hotel is closed for renovations.[3]

Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey while staying at the Chelsea, and poets Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso chose it as a place for philosophical and artistical exchange. It is also known as the place where the writer Dylan Thomas was staying when he died of pneumonia on November 9, 1953, and where Nancy Spungen, girlfriend of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, was found stabbed to death on October 12, 1978. Arthur Miller has written a short piece, "The Chelsea Affect", describing life at The Chelsea in the early 1960s.[4]

The building has been a designated New York City landmark since 1966,[5] and on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977.[1][6]

Description and history

Built between 1883 and 1885 and opened for initial occupation in 1884,[5][7] the twelve-story red-brick building that is now the Hotel Chelsea was one of the city's first private apartment cooperatives.[2] It was designed by Phiip Hubert[8] of the firm of Hubert, Pirsson & Company in a style that has been described variously as Queen Anne Revival and Victorian Gothic.[7] Among its distinctive features are the delicate, flower-ornamented iron balconies on its facade, which were constructed by J.B. and J.M Cornell[5][7] and its grand staircase, which extends upward twelve floors. Generally, this staircase is only accessible to registered guests, although the hotel does offer monthly tours to others. At the time of its construction, the building was the tallest in New York.[9]

Hubert and Pirsson had created a "Hubert Home Club" in 1880 for "The Rembrandt", a six-story building on West 57th Street intended as housing for artists. This early cooperative building had rental units to help defray costs, and also provided servants as part of the building staff.[8] The success of this model led to other "Hubert Home Clubs", and the Chelsea was one of them.[8] Initially successful, its surrounding neighborhood constituted the center of New York's theater district.[10] However within a few years the combination of economic stresses, the suspicions of New York's middle class about apartment living, the opening up of Upper Manhattan and the plentiful supply of houses there, and the relocation of the city's theater district bankrupted the Chelsea.[8][10]

In 1905, the building reopened as a hotel, which was later managed by Knott Hotels and resident manager A. R. Walty. After the hotel went bankrupt, it was purchased in 1939 by Joseph Gross, Julius Krauss, and David Bard,[2] and these partners managed the hotel together until the early 1970s. With the passing of Joseph Gross and Julius Krauss, the management fell to Stanley Bard, David Bard's son.

On June 18, 2007, the hotel's board of directors ousted Bard as the hotel's manager. Dr. Marlene Krauss, the daughter of Julius Krauss, and David Elder, the grandson of Joseph Gross and the son of playwright and screenwriter Lonne Elder III, replaced Stanley Bard with the management company BD Hotels NY; that firm has since been terminated as well.

In May 2011, the hotel was sold to real estate developer Joseph Chetrit for US$80 million.[11] As of August 1, 2011 the hotel stopped taking reservations for guests in order to begin renovations,[12] but long-time residents remain in the building, some of them protected by state rent regulations.[13] The renovations prompted complaints by the remaining tenants of health hazards caused by the construction. These were investigated by the city's Building Department,[14] which found no major violations.[15] In November 2011, the management ordered all of the hotel's many artworks taken off the walls, supposedly for their protection and cataloging, a move which some tenants interpreted as a step towards forcing them out as well.[13] In 2013, Ed Scheetz became the Chelsea Hotel's new owner after buying back five properties from Joseph Chetrit, his partner in King & Grove Hotels.[16]

Notable residents

Literary artists

During its lifetime Hotel Chelsea has provided a home to many great writers and thinkers including Mark Twain,[17] O. Henry,[17] Herbert Huncke,[18] Dylan Thomas,[17] Arthur C. Clarke, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Arnold Weinstein, Leonard Cohen, Sharmagne Leland-St. John, Arthur Miller, Quentin Crisp, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams,[17] Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac (who wrote On the Road there),[18] Robert Hunter, Jack Gantos, Brendan Behan, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Wolfe, Charles Bukowski, Raymond Kennedy, Matthew Richardson, James T. Farrell, Valerie Solanas, Mary Cantwell, René Ricard.

Charles R. Jackson, author of The Lost Weekend, committed suicide in his room on September 21, 1968.

Actors and film directors

The hotel has been a home to actors and film directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Jonas Mekas (was long-time resident from 1967 to 1974), Shirley Clarke, Mitch Hedberg, Dave Hill, Miloš Forman, Lillie Langtry, Ethan Hawke, Dennis Hopper, Vincent Gallo, Patricia Chica, Maria Beatty, Eddie Izzard, Uma Thurman, Elliott Gould, Elaine Stritch, Michael Imperioli, Jane Fonda, Russell Brand, Abel Ferrara's Driller Killer film star Baybi Day,[19] Gaby Hoffmann and her mother, the Warhol film star Viva, and Edie Sedgwick.


Much of Hotel Chelsea's history has been colored by the musicians who have resided or visited there. Some of the most prominent names include Grateful Dead, Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Bobby "Werner" Strete, Mod Fun, Virgil Thomson, Chick Corea, Alexander Frey, Jeff Beck, Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Thunders, Mink Deville, Neon Leon/King Lion, Phil Lynott, Henri Chopin, John Cale, Édith Piaf, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, Alejandro Escovedo, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Peter Walker, Canned Heat, Sid Vicious, J.D. Stooks,Vivian Stanshall, Richard Hell, Jobriath Boone, Little Annie, Rufus Wainwright, Lance Loud, Abdullah Ibrahim/Sathima Bea Benjamin/Jean Grae, Vasant Rai, Jacques Labouchere, and Leonard Cohen. Madonna lived at the Chelsea in the early eighties, returning in 1992 to shoot photographs for her book, Sex, in room 822.[20] Falco, Ryan Adams, The Libertines, The Fuse (UK), Michael McDermott, Melissa Auf der Maur, Tim Freedman, and Anthony Kiedis have spent time at The Chelsea. Taylor Momsen's band, the Pretty Reckless, did a photo shoot in room 822 of the Chelsea. British pop band La Roux shot the second version of the music video for their song "In for the Kill" at the Chelsea.

Visual artists

The hotel has featured and collected the work of the many visual artists who have passed through. Robert Blackburn, Larry Rivers, Brett Whiteley, Christo, Arman, Francesco Clemente, Julian Schnabel, Ching Ho Cheng, David Remfry, Philip Taaffe, Ralph Gibson, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Robert Crumb, Ellen Cantor, Jasper Johns, Edie Sedgwick, Claes Oldenburg, Vali Myers, Donald Baechler, Herbert Gentry, Willem de Kooning, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lynne Drexler, Nora Sumberg and Henri Cartier-Bresson have all spent time at the hotel. Painter and ethnomusicologist Harry Everett Smith lived and died in Room 328. The painter Alphaeus Philemon Cole lived there for 35 years until his death in 1988 at age 112.[21]

Fashion designers

Charles James, credited with being America's first couturier who influenced fashion in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1964 he moved into the Chelsea, dying there of pneumonia in 1978.

Warhol superstars

Hotel Chelsea is often associated with the Warhol superstars, as Andy Warhol and Paul Morrisey directed Chelsea Girls (1966), a film about his Factory regulars and their lives at the hotel. Chelsea residents from the Warhol scene included Edie Sedgwick, Viva, Ultra Violet, Mary Woronov, Holly Woodlawn, Andrea Feldman, Nico, Paul America, René Ricard and Brigid Berlin.


New York event promoter Susanne Bartsch lives at the Chelsea Hotel. Several survivors of the Titanic stayed for some time in this hotel as it is a short distance from Pier 54, the White Star Line dock where the Titanic was supposed to dock. The Chelsea was also home to many sailors returning from their duties in World War I. Ruth Harkness, an adventurer/naturalist who brought the first live giant panda from China to the U.S. in the 1930s, stayed at the Chelsea Hotel after her return to the States.

In popular culture

Films and television

The hotel has been featured in:

  • Chelsea Girls (1966) by Andy Warhol, was shot at the Chelsea.
  • An American Family (1973, PBS) An episode of the pioneering reality TV series was mostly filmed at the Chelsea while family member Lance Loud lived there.
  • Arena (TV series) (1981) The program's episode, "Chelsea Hotel" was featured on the popular BBC arts documentary series.
  • Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) by Adrian Lyne
  • Sid & Nancy (1986) by Alex Cox
  • Part of Léon: The Professional (1994), by Luc Besson, was shot there, although it was set in an apartment block.
  • Party Monster: The Shockumentary (1996) various people are mentioned to have lived in the hotel.
  • Midnight in Chelsea (1997) directed by Mark Pellington, a video to a track from the 1997 Jon Bon Jovi solo album Destination Anywhere
  • Chelsea Walls (2001) A movie about a new generation of artists living at the hotel.
  • Pie in the Sky the Brigid Berlin Story (2002) features a reunion between former resident Brigid Berlin and the artist Richard Bernstein at the Hotel.
  • The Interpreter (2005)
  • House of D (2004) A movie about an adolescent boy growing up in New York City.
  • Chelsea on the Rocks (2008) A documentary film directed by Abel Ferrara
  • Hotel Chelsea (2009) A horror film about a Japanese couple staying at the hotel.
  • 24 (2010) In episode 13 of the eighth season of the serial action/drama television series, former FBI special agent Renee Walker is shown to stay in the hotel, in the residential apartment of Jack Bauer, who was living there.
  • Cinema Verite (2011, HBO) The family's eldest son, Lance Loud, (played by Thomas Dekker) lives in the Hotel Chelsea.
  • The Carrie Diaries (2013) produced by Candace Bushnell TV Series: Season 1 Episode 9 "The Great Unknown"; With Carrie forbidden from going to New York City ever again, she is told to look after Dorrit for the evening. When Dorrit goes missing, Carrie seeks out (as well as lashes out at) Sebastian, the one person who can help her find Dorrit before their father comes home. She finds Dorritt inside The Chelsea Hotel after finding out she's researching a project based on the stabbing murder of Sex Pistol's Sid Vicious's girlfiend Nancy Spungen.


The hotel is also featured in numerous songs, including:



External links

  • Hotel Chelsea Blog (unofficial)
  • Inside: The Chelsea Hotel – short movie based on photographs by Julia Calfee
  • Chelsea Hotel – New York Architecture Images
  • 360° Panoramas of Chelsea Hotel before 2011–2012 renovations
  • Chelsea's New Proprietor – Wall Street Journal
  • Guests Are Gone From The Chelsea Hotel – Roomkey via New York Times
  • Ed Hamilton: One of the last Chelsea Hotel Bohemians Interview with Doug Holder The Somerville News

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