The Chelsea Hotel lingers historically at 23rd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. When it opened in 1883, as a 44-room apartment house, the 12-story building was the tallest in the city. In fact, the Chelsea Hotel’s size made it so predominant on 23rd Street that the building wasn’t named after the neighborhood but rather the neighborhood was named after the building.
In 1905 as the neighborhood deteriorated, and long before the bohemian lifestyle became fashionable (outside the pages of literature, that is), the Chelsea began accepting transient hotel guests. Over the next century, its original rooms were split into 101 apartments consisting of single-to three-bedroom occupancies.
While magnificent hotels like the original Astor and Waldorf hotels were being leveled in the 1920s, the Chelsea had already acquired its unique atmosphere of celebrity-enriched history; it would continue to acquire an even greater atmosphere of such history throughout the rest of the 20th century.
It’s where Mark Twain stayed. And Jack Kerouac. And: Thomas Wolfe, Frida Kahlo, O. Henry, Arthur C. Clarke, Willem de Kooning, Henri Cartier Bresson, Allen Ginsberg and Martha Graham. It’s where couples from Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe to Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin made love. It’s where Dylan Thomas collapsed into a coma in 1953—”I’ve had 18 straight whiskies. I think that is a record!”—which led to his death four days later in St. Vincent’s Hospital. Weekly Seven
Nevertheless, whereas the Chelsea Hotel is rich in history critics have argued that it’s rather meager in profitability. For decades, the legendary hotel was faced with the peril of joining its former neighbors, the original Astor and Waldorf, in a state of legendary demolition. The Chelsea Hotel is up for sale that’s locked within dispute and litigation; its beat, however, goes on…while history moves along just as awkwardly.
- Metaphor on 23rd Street: The Chelsea Has History and Architecture – Is That Enough for a $100 M. Sale? (observer.com)
- Haven for New York artists, Chelsea Hotel for sale (omg.yahoo.com)
- The Secret History of the Chelsea Hotel (observer.com)
- Hotel Chelsea Up For Sale (luxist.com)
- Manhattan’s Landmark Hotel Chelsea Put Up for Sale (businessweek.com)
- Chelsea Hotel Tenants Head to Housing Court (wnyc.org)
- Tenants Say Famed Chelsea Hotel Full of Asbestos (mesothelioma.com)