PORTRAIT of a NEIGHBORHOOD… 1962
Although it's just four doors from the respectability of West End Avenue all shades of humanity pass through the filth-infested hallways of this building. Three slovenly dressed men in wheelchairs sit deceptively still in the sunlight. Then a pedestrian walks by and they spiel off obscenities from mouths twisted with hatred.
A maroon convertible purrs to a stop in front of the hotel. Five girls and the driver, a handsome black man decked out in pink, pile out of the car and stand around cracking jokes with the men. “Big Boy, you sure can peddle them white gals”, says one of them.
Suddenly a police siren pierces the air. The group fades silently into the building and the street is still. Only the men remain, their faces closed as they watch the squad car approach. The police rush into the building and the men place bets on who they’ll pick up this time. They all lose.
It’s just a family quarrel and the police are still breaking it up as they drag the couple to the squad car. The man holds his arm, blood seeping through the dirty towel that he’s twisted around it. “She used a bottle on him”, say the men knowingly.
And so it goes at THE WHITEHALL, the transient hotel where only vice and corruption find a permanent home.