The Hotel Chelsea: A Cultural History

Although it’s been embattled and its legacy tarnished in the past few years, Manhattan’s Hotel Chelsea remains a spiritual landmark for those who remember (or simply romanticize) the old, weird New York. So it’s jarring news to learn that the Chelsea is now up for sale. Its owners claim that the place’s legacy will be preserved, and we sure hope they mean it.

To understand exactly what’s at stake here, we’ve put together a timeline of cultural events that took place at or were inspired by the Hotel Chelsea in the past 60 years. Of course, since its relationship to the art, music, and literary world is too enormous to measure, we’ve had to leave a lot out. Add your favorite Hotel Chelsea moments in the comments.

The death of Dylan Thomas (1953)

The Hotel Chelsea has been home to many poets, but perhaps its most famous was Dylan Thomas, who also died there. Notorious for consuming heroic quantities of liquor, he succumbed to an alcohol-related affliction on November 9, 1953, at the age of 39. Since then, rumors have swirled over whether it was pure quantity of drink or something to do with diabetes or a bad drug interaction that killed Thomas.