You come back to Chelsea like you go to your mother when something is wrong.
- Nicola L., Performance Artist
Multimedia and performance artist Nicola L. has been at the Chelsea some 30 years. She came, she returned to France, she rented another New York apartment, and then she returned. "You come back to Chelsea like you go to your mother when something is wrong," she says.
But the building has been sold. Once filled with art by residents, the walls and stairwells are mostly bare now. Only the long-term residents remain. The staff — some of whom had been there for decades — have been let go. When the staff left, says Nicola L., "the bellman, the people at the desk — it was like we didn't have family anymore and we were in an empty boat. "
The Chelsea Hotel is unlike any other in New York. It's split between rental apartments, and tiny hotel rooms where people could stay for a night. Ed Hamilton, author of Legends of the Chelsea Hotel, has lived there for 16 years. The first apartment he had cost him $500 a month.