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Old Photographs Show What Life Was Like Inside the Chelsea Hotel

The famous hotel is currently closed for renovations.

History By

The Chelsea Hotel is a historic landmark in New York City, located on West 23rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. It was built between 1883 and 1885, and is known primarily for two things: the famous residents it had and the number of deaths that took place. The 12-story red-brick building was one of Manhattan’s first private apartment cooperatives. It was reopened as a hotel in 1905, and in 2011, was sold to real estate developer Joseph Chetrit for $80 million.

Mark Twain, Allen Ginsberg and James T. Farrell all lived in the hotel. Actors, film directors, and musicians have all called it home as well. Madonna lived in the Chelsea Hotel in the early 1980s, and Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin had an affair there in 1968. Bette Midler, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison are also among the list of famous inhabitants. Several survivors of the Titanic even stayed at the hotel.

The hotel is also famous for how many people died there. According to The TelegraphSid Vicious killed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen at the Chelsea. Dylan Thomas drank himself to death and author Charles R. Jackson committed suicide in his room in 1968.

In August 2011, the Chelsea Hotel stopped taking reservations in order to begin renovations, but long-time residents remain in the building. Through the gallery below, we take a look at the hotel and some of its most famous residences.

Wikimedia Commons.

Janis Joplin was one of the Chelsea Hotel’s famous residents. She and Leonard Cohen had an affair at the hotel, and he wrote two different songs about it. Flickr.

A phone in a room of long-time resident and writer Ed Hamilton at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, January 10, 2011. The Chelsea Hotel, a haven for struggling artists for over 50 years, is for sale since October 2010. The 12-floor, 250-room landmark hotel, was built in 1883 and hosted celebrities such as Andy Warhol, Arthur Miller and his wife Marylin Monroe, musicians Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and punk rocker Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols who killed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen there in 1978 in a drug-induced stupor. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Leonard Cohen at the Arena in Geneva, 27 October 2008. He was one of the Chelsea Hotel’s most famous residents, and wrote a song about the affair he had with Janis Joplin there. (Wikipedia)
A view of a corridor at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, January 10, 2011. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
While he was applying for residency in America, English writer Quentin Crisp stayed at the Hotel Chelsea. His time living here coincided with a fire, a robbery and the death of Nancy Spungen. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)
American composer Virgil Thomson died in his suite at the Chelsea on September 30, 1989. During his life spent in the hotel, Thomson led a largely gay salon that leading figures of music and arts attended, including Leonard Bernstein and Tennessee Williams. Here he is pictured in the hotel. (Image via veluandcoco/flickr)
Former long-time Chelsea Hotel manager Stanley Bard poses for a photo in the lobby of the Chelsea Hotel in New York, January 10, 2011. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
American author and poet Herbert Huncke lived in the Chelsea during the last few years of his life. He is a core member of the Beat Generation. He also coined the term. (Photo via zapdelight/Flickr
Herbert Huncke – photo: Peter Edel)
Bette Midler lived at the hotel. (Wikimedia Commons)
Chelsea Hotel
Chelsea Hotel interior in Manhattan. (John Borthwick)