“I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel” – Leonard Cohen
The Chelsea Hotel is one of the most famous landmarks in Chelsea, and it is yet another feature that has contributed to freedom of expression in the area. Some of the most brilliant and successful artists have stayed at the Hotel Chelsea, including Charles Bukowski, Bob Dylan, and Janis Joplin. The Hotel’s most infamous visitors were Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, as Nancy was found stabbed to death in room 100 of the Hotel Chelsea in 1978.
When it was built in the 1880s, the Chelsea Hotel was the largest building in New York. By 1966, it was officially recognized as a New York City Landmark. As time went on, it became a home for many lost souls and artists. It was open to many interesting guests until 2011, when it was sold to developer Joseph Chetrit for $80 million and consequently closed for renovation. This has enraged many Chelsea residents as well as previous visitors to the hotel. As Cara Buckley wrote for the New York times, “Part of the allure of the Chelsea, beyond the creepy yet tantalizing feeling that the place is thick with spirits, is that from the inside looking out, New York can still feel gritty.” People are afraid that the thick history and unique feel of the Chelsea Hotel will be lost with the renovations.
The last night before the renovations began, many folks rushed in for a last party. As Cara Buckley describes it, “In the rooms above, people partied, prowled and slept. Hip-hop blared from Sid and Nancy’s old room. Hotel guests held earnest, drunken conversations from the balconies overlooking West 23rd Street.” While the renovations may change the look of the hotel, they can’t change its’ reputation as a place for self-expression and fun. As long as it has a history, people won’t stop flocking the the Chelsea Hotel to find themselves and create art.
Buckley, Cara. “A Last Night Among the Spirits at the Chelsea Hotel.” The New York Times 1 Aug. 2011: A15. The New York Times. 31 July 2011. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.