I know this is going to sound strange, but some places are just born bad. You know, the kind of place that just seems to have an ominous black cloud hanging over it and no matter how hard the owner tries, the place just seems to be destined for bad things. The Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan just so happens to be one of those places shrouded in darkness. The Chelsea is a hotel where legends go to live, die and haunt for all time.
When the Chelsea was built in 1883, it appeared to have a promising start. The hotel was built close to the city’s thriving theater district and was considered to be the finest hotel in NYC. It was a place for the rich and elite of 19th century New York to stay while stepping out for a night on the town. Unfortunately, trying times were ahead for the luxury hotel that favored the rich and famous.
Over time, the theater district was becoming far to overpopulated and it was moved across town to its present location. The Chelsea was left to wallow in financial ruin. With theater goers now patronizing other hotels, the Chelsea was no longer able to keep its doors open. The owners filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the hotel to an uncertain future of vagrancy.
Throughout the early decades of the 20th century, several different investors took up ownership of The Chelsea. And again, despite all their best efforts, financial problems constantly seemed to lurk close by. It was almost as if the Hotel Chelsea was just not meant to be.
The building would have some salvation in the 1950s, when the neighborhood where the Chelsea stood became popular with musicians, writers and artists. The bohemians and beatniks who flocked to the area breathed new life into the old hotel. Among its clientele were several rock legends including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the original shock rocker, Alice Cooper. Perhaps the most tragic one of them all was the Sex Pistol’s bassist, Sid Vicious and his girlfriend, Nancy Spungeon. Their turbulent drug fueled relationship resulted in a brutal murder that haunts the Chelsea to this day.
Anyone who knew the couple could tell you the two punkers were a match made in hell. At any moment, regardless of where they were, Nancy would release a vile torrent of verbal abuse on Sid and Vicious would take it, because apparently the sex and drugs were worth it. Some believe it was this horrible treatment that caused Sid Vicious to one day just snap and take his frustration out as violently as possible.
On a cool October morning in 1978, Nancy’s lifeless body was found in a pool of her own blood in the bathroom of room 100. The cause of death was clear, several stab wounds were found in her abdomen with the murder weapon, a bloody switchblade lying next to her. The only person present was Sid Vicious, passed out after a night of shooting the couple’s favorite drug, heroin, into his veins. Barely conscious when police arrived, Sid claimed to have no recollection of a fight that led to him gutting the woman he loved.
Later that day, Sid was arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungeon. Somehow, Sid managed to make bail and was released until trial. His day before the judge would never come. Shortly after being released, Sid Vicious, found solace in a needle and perished from a heroin overdose.
Since that day over 40 years ago, guests of the Chelsea complained of a violent fight between a couple coming from room 100. Whenever someone goes to investigate the shouting voices and thuds on the walls, nothing and no one is found in the room, just an eerie silence. Some believe the fight that is heard is the final moments leading up to the gruesome demise of Nancy Spungeon. The noises are not the only unexplained activity coming from the room. A tall, lanky shadow has been seen lurking near the room. The shadow is believed to be the ghost of Sid Vicious, returning to the room that destroyed the lives of him and the woman he adored.
The ghosts of punk rockers aren’t the only ones to haunt The Chelsea. Welsh poet Dylan Thomas joins Sid and Nancy and his ghost is purportedly the most active haunt in the hotel. In 1953, Thomas came to The Chelsea to be part of the burgeoning Beat culture in New York. Sadly, his stay was short lived as he died not long after his arrival. After moving into the Chelsea, Thomas suddenly fell ill and died. Some believed he may have had an underlying medical condition that he was unaware of. However, others believed something else took the brilliant poet’s life.
Those who knew Dylan Thomas well, knew that he had a serious drinking problem. It wasn’t uncommon to see Thomas stumble out of a bar or pub in the wee hours of the morning. And it was his drug of choice that finished him off. According to rumor, right before he died, Thomas was seen at a local bar downing an unbelievable 26 shots of whiskey. How anyone could survive that staggers the imagination. It was the creature, and not an unknown medical condition, that finally got the better of the heavy drinking writer.
Room 206, the room where Dylan Thomas worked and lived, is allegedly haunted by the poet. People who have stayed in room 206 have reported the uneasy feeling of being closely scrutinized by an unseen presence that sends chills down their spines. While others have reported catching a glimpse of the Welshman plucking away on the typewriter he carried with him wherever he went. Dylan Thomas, is forever writing his poetry from the other side of the veil.
While staying at The Chelsea, Janis Joplin was once overheard saying, “A lot of funky things happen at The Chelsea.” Whether or not she was talking about ghosts is of course debatable. Nevertheless, the immensely talented musician wasn’t wrong. Funky things do indeed happen at The Chelsea Hotel.
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