Legends has obtained a rare copy of the program for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of of the Chelsea Hotel in 1983. In somber black and oddly titled “Chelsea: Chelsea Hotel. The First One Hundred Years,” the cover of the (obviously expensively produced) booklet features a very faint reproduction (almost a watermark), also in black, of a section of the famous cast iron balcony. I guess the designer, Joseph DeAngelis, was going for a sort of Back in Black effect, since it was at around this time that the AC/DC album came out, if I remember correctly. I wonder if Angus Young ever stayed here.
The booklet is copiously illustrated. Claudio Edinger is credited with the photos, and several of those that appear can also be found in his book. There are also some very fine uncredited photos that I don’t think Claudio took, of such Chelsea luminaries as Arthur Miller, Virgil Thomson, and Arthur C. Clarke.
At a time when the current management is contemplating the destruction of the physical and cultural integrity of the Chelsea Hotel, the booklet is an instructive document. Perhaps Marlene Krauss, David Elder, and Andrew Tilley will be given pause by the assessment of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission:
On the basis of a careful consideration of the history and architecture and other features of this building, the Landmarks Preservation Commission finds that the Hotel Chelsea has a special character, special historical and aesthetic interest and value as part of the development, heritage and cultural characteristics of New York City.
Though I rather doubt it. But surely they cannot fail to heed the words of Bess Myerson, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs:
There is, perhaps, no other hotel in the world that has been as important to the creative process as the Chelsea. For one hundred years the hotel has provided a safe haven to an impressive array of artists. . . .it now deserves to be recognized as a New York City treasure. A century of anything is a long time. A century of nurturing and supporting the creative process is a remarkable achievement. Bravo!
We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves. In case anyone wondered, this is what the residents of the Chelsea Hotel are struggling to preserve—for ourselves, and for generations of creative people to come. More than simply our home, the Chelsea represents a way of life that is an increasingly rare alternative to the hollow materialism of the greater part of society. -- Ed Hamilton