The Nation: Rip-Off at the Chelsea

The ornate, marble-floored Chelsea Hotel on Manhattan's West 23rd Street, with its famous wrought-iron balconies and traditionally tolerant management, has been a hip haven for writers, artists and musicians since it opened its doors in 1884. The antics and accomplishments of its guests—celebrated, obscure or hovering somewhere between —have become a part of New York City's artistic lore, and so has the eleven-story Chelsea itself. Its fading elegance was saved from destruction when it was designated an official city landmark in 1966.

Fabled residents have included writers like Mark Twain and O. Henry, Thomas Wolfe and Dylan Thomas. Today the Chelsea is...

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