Once rumored to be the tallest building in New York City, The Chelsea Hotel, 222 West 23rd Street, was built by Philip Hubert of Hubert, Pirsson & Company in 1894. From its construction the Chelsea Hotel stood out amongst its neighbors, at a proud twelve stories with a red brick exterior and ornate iron balconies, its interior was just as impressive with a grand staircase extending up the twelve floors. The building was originally intended to be a cooperative apartment for artists but with the economic stresses of the era and the changing neighborhood, the Chelsea was completely bankrupted shortly after it opened. The building would reopen its doors in 1905 as a hotel under the management of Knott Hotels and resident manager A.R. Walty and again went bankrupt in 1939. After it came under the ownership of Julius Krauss, Joseph Gross and David Bard the hotel thrived and developed a reputation as an artistic haven for members of the literary, film and musical industry.
Such notable guests include William S. Burroughs, Leonard Cohen, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gore Vidal, Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Stanley Kubrick, Eddie Izzard, Jane Fonda, Grateful Dead, Iggy Pop, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and Madonna. It has also served as the subject, muse and backdrop for many books, songs and films and has become a fixture in the New York City art scene. Pop artist Andy Warhol used the hotel as the center of his film “Chelsea Girls” (1965). However in addition to the who’s who of artistic elite that have passed through the Chelsea’s doors tragedy struck on October 12, 1978 when Nancy Spungen (girlfriend of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious) was found stabbed to death in her hotel bathroom. Although details of the murder are vague, Sid Vicious was arrested for second degree murder. There have been several theories around what happened the predominant two being that Sid and Nancy had a suicide pact and after stabbing Nancy, Sid then passed out or during a heated argument things became volatile and Sid stabbed Nancy whether on purpose or in self-defense. Both Sid and Nancy had a long history of drug abuse and prior to the murder had been in a drug fueled fog for days, which accounted for Sid’s inability to remember what had happened. There have also been speculations that it wasn’t Sid who killed Nancy, but instead a stranger/visitor to one of the guests who wandered into their room. Others have thought it was someone they knew who intended to steal their drugs and that Nancy fought them off and was stabbed in the altercation. Whatever the truth we will probably never know, Sid Vicious died on February 1, 1979 of a heroin overdose. Since then the hotel has had a relatively quiet history. In 2013 the hotel was bought by Ed Scheetz.
There have been a wide variety of claims attached to the Chelsea Hotel from cold and hot spots, gushes of wind in rooms with all windows and doors closed, personal items being moved, the sounds of doors, drawers and windows opening when none have been touched, the sounds of loud footsteps outside of guests rooms and shadow figures. Some have said they have seen the apparition of a woman who is believed to be Nancy Spungen, there have also been claims of a male apparition who is believed to be the spirit of poet Dylan Thomas. During a visit to the legendary hotel, one guest had a particular unsettling experience. While resting in her room, a young woman heard what sounded like footsteps outside her room door. At first the footsteps were faint and hardly worth a thought, attributing the sound to a hotel guest walking in the hallway the young lady continued to unpack. After some time the incessant sound of pacing started to concern the woman and she peeked outside her door to see who was causing the racket. Startled she found the hallways completely empty. She closed the door and again heard the footsteps but louder, annoyed she flung the door open and saw no one in the hallway. Rattled she called her friend who was staying in a room down the hall and explained what had happened. The friend in total disbelief dismissed the story and after a visit to the room explained someone was probably bored in their room and thought it would be funny to joke around. Convinced her friend was right the woman returned to her room to freshen up for the evening. During her shower the water would witch from ice cold to scalding and then back to warm. After several minutes of ice cold water the woman stepped out into a bathroom steamed and usually warm. Sufficiently irritated, she dressed and went to her friend’s room to inquire if she too had trouble showering. Still doubtful her friend shrugged her shoulders and blamed faulty plumbing. The next morning the woman awoke to find her keys, cell phone and wallet gone. Having put it on the nightstand she was a little baffled how they ended up across the room in her bag. As she packed up her things she felt very cold. Checking all the windows to make sure they were closed she continued to feel a deep chill in her bones. A sharp gust of wind that seemed to come out of nowhere cut right through her and instantly she felt overwhelming sense of nausea followed by feeling faint. She called her friend who no curious to see what was going on came to the room he two ladies packed the remaining items and left. Upon leaving the room the woman felt perfectly fine with no symptoms of chills, nausea or feeling faint. The woman a non-believer of anything to do with the paranormal could not deny her experience was anything ordinary and has never gone back to the hotel.
The Chelsea Hotel
222 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
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