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The Sunshine Hotel by David Isay

The Sunshine Hotel

by David Isay

Title Details

Running Time
40 Min.


The Sunshine Hotel is an audio portrait of one of the final vestiges of the Bowery, New York's notorious skid row. In the first half of this century, the mile-long Bowery's bars, missions, and cheap hotels (or flop houses) were home to an estimated 35,000 down-and-out men each night. Today, a handful of flop houses, virtually unchanged for half a century, are all that remain of a once-thriving culture of alcoholism and despair. For several months, David Isay and Stacy Abramson had unprecedented 24-hour access to the Sunshine Hotel, one of the last of the no-frills establishments. "It was like stepping into King Tut's tomb," Isay says. "The Sunshine is this fascinating, self-contained society full of unbelievable characters. While it's a profoundly sad place, it is, at the same time, home to men with powerful and poetic stories to tell." Charlie's Story is the first person story of Charlie Geter, who has lived at the Palace Hotel in the Bowery for more than 25 years. Producers David Isay and Stacy Abramson gave Charlie a tape recorder and asked him to interview other residents of the Palace Hotel and to tell his life story. For 2 years, beginning in April 1997, Charlie worked on this project, recording his story late into the night and struggling to get the other residents to talk to him on tape. The Palace Hotel, which once slept 600 men nightly, used to be the biggest hotel on the Bowery. Now less than 30 old timers remain, many of whom, in Charlie's words, "are trying to escape the world." Charlie's Story not only depicts life on the Bowery, it also records Charlie's struggle and determination to complete his project.

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