222 West 23rd Street
1883-85; Hubert, Pirsson & Co.
The famed Hotel Chelsea was one of the city’s first cooperative apartment buildings, originally named the Chelsea Apartments. Architect and developer Philip Hubert was influenced in
bringing the co-op to America by the philosophy of early socialist French thinker Charles Fourier, who imagined a utopian society based on communal associations. Hubert designed the Chelsea with apartments for both co-op members and renters at a variety of income levels, with shared spaces to facilitate community interaction. The massive and imposing 12-story, red-brick building is 25 bays wide, fronted by tiers of delicate iron balconies, and capped by dramatic pyramidal slate roofs, gables, dormers, and chimneys. It has elements of Aesthetic Movement, Queen Anne, and High Victorian Gothic styles, and is notable for its early use of fireproof construction methods such as load-bearing masonry walls and wrought iron beams. When Hubert’s experiment bankrupted in 1905, the building was converted into a luxury hotel visited by prominent guests including Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, Sarah Bernhardt, and painter John Sloan. After World War II, as the hotel declined and room prices fell, it attracted Jackson Pollock, Virgil Thomson, Larry Rivers, James Schuyler, Dylan Thomas, Tennessee Williams, and Jack Kerouac. Arthur Miller moved into Room 614 after his divorce from Marilyn Monroe. Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick wrote the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Chelsea. From 1957 to 2007, the hotel was an informal artists’ colony benevolently and tolerantly “curated” by manager Stanley Bard. Artwork he accepted in lieu of back rent from struggling artists filled the lobby and main staircase. Bard fashioned and maintained the unique creative dynamic for which the hotel is perhaps most famous, presiding during the 1960’s when Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen wrote some of their greatest songs. Andy Warhol filmed Chelsea Girls here. Bard’s departure was mourned by many residents of the hotel and the Chelsea community. The building continues to house a significant number of permanent tenants. The Chelsea Hotel is is a NYC Individual Landmark and listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.