I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel, you were famous your heart was a legend…
Former resident Leonard Cohen wrote the song Chelsea Hotel No. 2 in its honor. But now the renowned, quirky refuge for both struggling and world-famous artists is up for sale.
The three families who bought the Chelsea in 1946 have long disagreed about its management, culminating in the ousting of long time manager Stanley Bard in 2007. Now they’ve decided to unload the West 23rd Street landmark.
When I wrote a story about disappearing neighborhood merchants and icons here two weeks ago (Invasion of the Merchant Snatchers), I had no idea one of New York City’s most legendary locations would soon be on the market.
From Dylan Thomas to Bob Dylan to Jim Morrison to Janice Joplin, its residents through over a century wrote, played and shared ideas, helping each other create timeless words and music. Andy Warhol directed an experimental film in the hotel. Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey there.
What will become of the Chelsea? What about its current artistic residents? A letter recently went out to them, stating that “nothing will change in the short term.”
But according to The Wall Street Journal, a buyer “would likely end the Chelsea’s tradition of giving artists breaks on payment schedules to assist their careers.”
And although no prospective buyers have yet come forward, one will certainly be found. From such a famous, “brand name” location, profit will certainly be gained. But what might be lost?
“The way we want to run the hotel is not necessarily the way the business world works,” one of the building’s shareholders ominously told the Journal.
The aging, 12-story bohemian landmark was completed in 1883, and is on The National Register of Historic Places.
Well never mind, we are ugly but we have the music…
Why do I get the sinking feeling that in the near future, the Chelsea won’t be “ugly” anymore? Perhaps it will be as beautiful as a Trump edifice, or a new bank, or a Starbucks.
Will we still “have the music?” I guess it’s possible. What do you think?
All I know for certain is what Cohen prophesied in the song:
I can’t keep track of each fallen robin…
(The Social Network review–see Arts page)