Tuesday, 2 December 2008


Hotel Chelsea, at 222, West 23rd. Street nr. 7th Avenue, is one of the city's most notorious landmarks, a hotspot brimming with character even as it sinks into old age. It has long been a center of artistic and bohemian activity and it houses artwork by many of the artists who have visited. The 12 storey red-brick 'Preserved' status building that now houses the Hotel Chelsea was built in 1883 and opened a year later as a private apartment cooperative; it was the tallest building in New York until 1899 and was at that time in the center of the Theatre District. However, after a few years a general financial downturn and the relocation of the theatres
bankrupted the Chelsea cooperative and in 1905, the building was purchased and opened as a hotel.
Owing to its long list of famous guests and residents, the hotel has an ornate history, both as a place for creative modern art and home of bad behaviour. Bob Dylan composed songs while staying here, and poets Alan Ginsberg and Gregory Corso chose it as a place for philosophical and intellectual exchange. Dylan Thomas died here from alcohol poisoning after collapsing into a drunken stupor in The White Horse Tavern, in Hudson Street.

Others to have visited or stayed at the Hotel Chelsea include Eugene O'Neil, Thomas Wolfe, and it was here while in residence that Arthur C. Clarke wrote '2001:A Space Odyssey'. Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Arthur Miller, William Burroughs and Patti Smith are among the many, many celebrities who have stayed here too.

On October 12, 1978 Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols may have stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen to death in their room in the Hotel Chelsea. Although initially arrested on suspicion of the murder, he was bailed and never charged. Ten days after her death he attempted suicide and was hospitalised for a considerable time. Later he was charged with smashing a beer mug in the face of Patti' Smith's brother and was sent to Riker's Island jail for 55 days and whilst there, is reportedly accredited with writing the following for Nancy:

You were my little baby girl

And I shared all your fears

Such joy to hold you in my arms

And kiss away your tears

But now you're gone there's only pain

And nothing I can do

And I don't want to live this life

If I can't live for you

To my beautiful baby girl

Our love will never die.

He died on 3rd February 1979, from complications arising from a heroin overdose.

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