Twenty-four years ago, when writer Ed Hamilton and his wife Debbie Martin moved into the Chelsea Hotel “everybody at the hotel was in the arts. There were always parties, and somebody was always having a show of some kind.” They’ve spent more than two decades in a 220-square-foot SRO room, and despite not having a kitchen and sharing a bathroom, they have loved every second of it. Where else could you live down the hall from Thomas Wolfe’s one-time home? Or share a bathroom with Dee Dee Ramone?
But eight years ago, the landmarked property was sold to a developer, and since then, it has changed hands several times. Ed and Debbie have lived through nearly a decade of “renovations” (it’s still unclear when and if the property will eventually become luxury condos), all the while watching their rent-stabilized neighbors dwindle as the construction and legal battles got to be too much. In true old-New York fashion, however, Ed and Debbie have no thoughts of giving up their Chelsea Hotel life. They recently showed us around their bohemian apartment, and even as they took us through the building, covered in dust and drop cloths, they speak fondly of their memories and their commitment to staying put. Ahead, get a closer look at why trading off space for history was the right choice for this couple and learn how they’ve made it work, what their wildest stories are from the hotel’s heyday, and what their most recent tenant lawsuit may mean.