Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Must See in NYC - Chelsea Hotel

If your not from the city then you need a place to stay when on a visit to New York. There are lots of famous hotels on the Island but non as cool as the Chelsea. If you can't get a room then just head over and bask in the glory of "The last outpost of bohemia." This red-brick building on West 23rd Street was the first cultural preservation sight listed by New York City. Built in 1883 it was the city's tallest building with only twelve flights till 1899. Once the center of the theater district the Chelsea Hotel is in Midtown close to the Empire State Building, and minutes from Greenwich Village in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Lots of historical events took place in New York that involved this hotel, like when the Titanic sank some of the survivors stayed at the Chelsea. All this History is nice but the real skinny in not about the building or the neighborhood, its the guests. Hundreds of writers, artists and musicians made it their home though the years. If your are a writer or love authors then this is a real treat. So many thinkers and writers stayed in these rooms. House hold names like Arthur Miller, Mark Twain, Thomas Wolfe, and Tennessee Williams. This is where Arthur C. Clarke wrote "2001: A Space Oddyssey." It was also a beat hang-out with writers and poets in every hallway. William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and Allen Ginsberg all where guest. Their friend Jack Kerouac wrote "On the Road" during his stay at the Chelsea. Some of the hotels literary guests never got the chance to check out. Dylan Thomas died of alcohol poisoning in 1953 after falling into a coma in his room. Then author of "The Lost Weekend", Charles R. Jackson committed suicide in his room at the Chelsea on September 21, 1968. Home to writers and artist alike, the Chelsea has Art filling every hallway and staircase. Creativity seem to seep out of the walls and into the minds of visual artists that stayed in the hotel. Both artists Harry Everett Smith and painter Alphaeus Philemon Cole lived and died there. Andy Warhol made "Chelsea girls" at the hotel. It was called a "three and a half hour cesspool of vulgarity and talentless confusion which is about as interesting as the inside of a toilet bowl" by Rex Reed. Lots of Warhols Factory stayed in the hotel like the lovely Edie Sedgwick. Warhol was not the only director to be connected to the Chelsea, the wacky Stanley Kubrick called it home for a time. If you think that's a lot of famous names check out the list of Musicians that lived within the hotels walls - Tom Waits, Virgil Thomson, Dee Dee Ramone, Sid Vicious, Patti Smith, Henri Chopin, Rufus Wainwright, Ryan Adams, John Cale, Édith Piaf, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Canned Heat, it goes on and on. Janis Joplin had an fling with Leonard Cohen there. Cohen then went and wrote the song "Chelsea Hotel #2," about it. The Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, was staying in the hotel in October of 78' when he woke up and found his girlfriend Nancy Spungen stabbed to death. He had not been able to remember what happened that night and died himself soon after. It has been a long haul for this building in midtown. Lots of ups and downs, highs and lows made famous by the creative forces that mingled inside this red building with black iron railings. This is where you get the New York you imagined when listening to songs or reading the passages of the greats. So get a room and open the window on the New York night that inspired so many legends.

"The building sits on 23rd Street with the air of a great dame who finds herself in the midst of a party of her social inferiors but instead of complaining decides to join right in the fun."
The New York Times

Living with legend
The last outpost of bohemia

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