INSIDE THE CHELSEA HOTEL
The legendary New York hangout of rockstars and Hollywood royalty
by Ellie Howard
Found on west 23rd Street, hidden between the Seventh and Eighth Avenues of Chelsea, Manhattan, stands the Chelsea Hotel. First opening its doors in 1884, the hotel has played host to a legendary list of 20th Century rock n’ rollers, film stars and legends. Infamous for its colourful and controversial history, it was a decadent bohemian enclave for those who inhabited its rooms.
Patti Smith on the balcony of the Chelsea Hotel,1971
Arthur Miller, a resident for six years following his divorce from Marylin Monroe declared “This hotel does not belong to America; there are no vacuum cleaners, no rules and no shame”. The Chelsea Hotel was the kind of place you could get high by just walking into the elevator, the doorman was permanently incapacitated and George Kliensinger would walk his alligator down the corridors. Viva, the Warholian “Chelsea Girls” star would saunter across the lobby, Mark Rothko installed his studio in the dining room and poets William Boroughs and Allen Ginsberg were permanently drunk in the bar. Edie Sedgwick accidentally set fire to it, Nancy Spungen had her throat slit in it, and Dee Dee Ramone could be seen furiously racing up and down its spiralled stairs, in the nude.
Left:Janis Joplin in front of the Hotel Chelsea NYC 1969 photographed by David Gahr Right: Dee Dee Ramone, 1993
All of this was presided over by the great pimp-daddy Stanley Bard, who collected artworks in lieu of rent. A man who saw himself as a proprietor of the arts, one that took in the waifs and strays of New York, including a teenage Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. The hotel became the very definition of the avant-garde; in its halcyon days it was the forefront of everything. Spawning infamy, its legacy is legendary. Although the hotel tenure has ceased to exist, the Chelsea Hotel will forever be an iconic New York landmark.
Leonard Cohen at the Chelsea Hotel. He famously wrote a song about his sexual encounter with Janis Joplin while staying there
A 6th Floor Nude at the Chelsea Hotel
Quentin Crisp outside the Chelsea Hotel, 1978
Edie Sedgewick with Andy Warhol, shooting “Chelsea Girls”. The hotel inspired the film; after Sedgewick was alienated from the Factory, she came to live at the hotel.
New York Dolls photoshoot with Peter Angelo Simon, Chelsea Hotel, 1973
Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg outside the hotel
Left: Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe Right: Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious
Landlord Stanley Bard
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