Tuesday, May 13, 2008


The New York neighborhood called Chelsea takes its name from the estate of British Army Captain Thomas Clarke, who retired to the then rural area after the French and Indian Wars. He named his estate - on the west side of Manhattan near the Hudson River - after London’s Royal Chelsea Hospital for soldiers. By the 1850s the land was divided into lots and developed. Today the area is a thriving neighborhood of brownstones, tenements, tree-lined streets, restaurants, and art galleries. In the midst of all this stands the Victorian Gothic beauty of the Chelsea Hotel. The hotel has always been a center of artistic and bohemian activity and it houses artwork created by many of the artists who have visited including the work of Truman Marquez (posted on and linked to this blog). The hotel was the first building to be listed by New York City as a cultural preservation site and historic building of note. The twelve-story red-brick building that now houses the Hotel Chelsea was built in 1883 as a private apartment cooperative that opened in 1884; it was the tallest building in New York until 1899. At the time Chelsea, and particularly the street on which the hotel was located, was the center of New York's Theater District. Within a few years the combination of economic worries and the relocation of theaters bankrupted the Chelsea cooperative. In 1905, the building was purchased and opened as a hotel.

This landmark has attracted famous guests and residents. It is both a birth place of creative modern art. Bob Dylan composed songs while staying at the Chelsea, and poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso chose it as a place for philosophical and intellectual exchange. On the other hand it is famed for its guest engaging in illegal, illicit and bad behavior. Poet, Dylan Thomas died of alcohol poisoning on in 1953 while staying there and where Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols may have stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death on October 12, 1978.

Visitors and residents of the Chelsea Hotel include Eugene O’Neil, and Arthur C. Clarke (who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey while in residence). Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and the Grateful Dead passed through the hotels doors in the 1960s. Virgil Thompson, Larry Rivers, William Burroughs, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Patti Smith, Arthur Miller, Dylan Thomas, and many, many others stayed here too. Marquez recalls staying in the same room as Thomas Wolfe. Perhaps these ghosts residing here have influenced guests through osmosis.

The hotel is located on West 23rd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues, in the heart of the art infused Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. It is centrally located between Greenwich Village and Midtown. From the front door of the hotel, one can easily walk to the Chelsea art galleries, the Meatpacking District, the Flatiron building, and Union Square. A short taxi or subway ride will bring you to Times Square, Central Park, Greenwich Village, Soho, and other New York City destinations.

The Chelsea boasts a selection of accommodations. Its rich history as home to greats in literature and art is reflected in the rooms that are filled with natural light (often floor-to-ceiling windows), eclectic period and modern furnishings and a sense of spaciousness. Artful d├ęcor can reflect the Belle Epoque or Today, as there is a legacy in each. It is completely modernized with Air Conditioning, Cable TV, Comfortable Parlors in the Suites, Studios with Kitchenette, Full Ensuite Bath or with Shower, Rooms with Shared Bath, often Work Areas with Desk and Ample Lighting Daily Maid Service.

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