The Wall Street Journal reports Chelsea’s legendary and magnificent specimen on West 23rd Street, Hotel Chelsea (where does one even begin?) is “now the latest New York icon up for sale.”

LOVELY. I forecast an upscale, boutique hotel.  Why not?  New York simply doesn’t have enough of them.

“The Chelsea’s 15 shareholders, led by three Hungarian families who bought the 12-story red-brick building in 1946, are selling the property after concluding that the task of modernizing the hotel and apartment building was too challenging, one owner said. A buyer also would likely end the Chelsea’s tradition of giving artists breaks on payment schedules to assist their careers.

Hotel Chelsea opened in 1884 as one of the city’s first co-ops. Much of the early Queen Anne architecture remains, including a grand staircase and the black cast-iron balconies. But hotel analysts say its aging lobby, retail and corridors are in need of renovation.

The cost of those improvements, which could run to millions of dollars—and the infighting among the controlling families—helped motivate the decision to sell, say people familiar with the matter.”

Over the summer, I read JUST KIDS, Patty Smith’s love letter to her New York days and time spent at the Chelsea, this is particularly bittersweet.

From the HC Site: “Owing to its long list of famous guests and residents, the hotel has an ornate history, both as a birth place of creative modern art and home of bad behavior. 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. It is also known as the place where the writer Dylan Thomas died of alcohol poisoning on in 1953, and where Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols may have stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death on October 12, 1978.

Famous visitors and residents of the Chelsea Hotel include Eugene O’Neil, Thomas Wolfe, and Arthur C. Clarke (who wrote 2001: A Space Oddyssey 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, Quentin Crisp and many more.

Wow; History is starting to hurt my feelings.

(image one: Unknown Hipster, image two: Chelsea Hotel 1982 Claudio Edinger. image three: Mapplethorpe + Smith in their room, 1970 Judy Lin)

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