In Living Color

People think they know what the Parker Spruce Hotel holds, but a night in a room there provides a clearer view.

By Steve Volk
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 7 | Posted Oct. 25, 2006

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Photographs by Jeff Fusco

Over my shoulder, I can hear the hotel's manager in conversation with a tenant. "She's out tomorrow," he says. "At 12 o'clock."

I'm waiting in line for a room at the Parker Spruce Hotel, a longtime fixture at the corner of 13th and Spruce, when I look back over my shoulder to get a better view of the people speaking.

The manager Ed Jervis is big, and as he speaks he rocks back and forth on his heels as if to find better leverage against his own weight. The woman is dressed in faded jeans and a dusty-looking windbreaker.

"You're throwing her out," she says. "Why?"

"Hey," replies Jervis, "when Philly PD comes in here and tells me I'm gonna lose my license 'cause she's out tricking--with her kid--at 2 a.m.? She's got to go. That's it."

Jervis could be intimidating--broad and bald, with round forearms covered in tattoos. But his tone is even and matter of fact, and the woman responds in kind.

"Really?" she asks. "Is that what happened?"

"Last night," says the manager. "She's been a problem since she got here."

The conversation recedes behind me as the pair lower their voices, and I advance toward the counter. At the desk a woman with an impassive face stares up at me in silence by way of greeting.

"I need a room," I say.

She pulls out some paperwork.

"Do you need an ID?" I ask.

"You paying with a credit card or cash?"

"Cash."

"Then I don't need to see an ID."

She starts writing on the form. "Your name?" she asks.

Without having to give her any identification, I could tell her anything.

"Address?" she asks.

I pause. When she looks up at me, I open my mouth, but no sound comes out. She looks back down at her paperwork.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 7 of 7
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1. Spencer Starnes said... on Apr 19, 2010 at 10:33PM

“Steve Volk-

I'm trying to reach you to do an interview for a documentary about this marvel of a hotel.

It would be very helpful if I could get into contact with you soon, if you see this, please contact me at SpencerStarnes@gmail.com.

Thank you.
-Spencer Starnes

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2. Mary said... on Oct 1, 2010 at 12:55PM

“What a great article. Being a recent inhabitant of the Lenox building right across the street I have already been witness to plenty of "goings-on" at the Parker, mostly in my half asleep state at 5 in the morning. The most shocking occurrence was probably my first night in my new apartment when I was awoken at 7AM to a woman outside screaming repeatedly "I'll suck yo ---- !!!" It was pretty much verbatim that scene from "Don't Be A Menace." Anyway, great to have some clarification on what exactly the Parker is all about. I have to say, as disruptive and disturbing as the place is, there is definitely a perversely charming old-worldliness about it in the midst of all of the area's gentrification... I guess that's why I never feel truly threatened by it (aaand while writing this I can hear a group of men in the Manning alleyway bickering over a drug deal with numerous expletives... It's 2 PM by the way... gotta love 13th street)!”

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3. Anonymous said... on May 12, 2011 at 10:02AM

“I belive the hotel is a dirt bag of disgrace, I belive my brother was murdered in there and was made to look like he overdosed and fell.
When my mother called to asked about somethings that were missing, them low life scumbags said "we don't keep that fucking shit we throw it out." To a woman that just lost her only son. and according to the pictures that I have seen of this place there is no way of what they said happened, could have happened.. I will find out......”

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4. harv said... on Jul 23, 2013 at 08:13PM

“These scumbags took money from my debit card so watch when you pay your bill The managers are all Indians and very mean since I got ripped off L&I will be making a visit soon with the board of health and they harassed my girlfriend fucking roach infested dump don't stay there you'll get burned What a dump safer on a park bench”

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5. Ben said... on Sep 6, 2013 at 04:22PM

“The cries of horror and prejudiced vitriol at the intrusion of this unsavoury reality into the lives of the 'respectable' are born of fear of the unknown and a failure to realise their own responsibility for the circumstances that end in the lobby of the Parker.

A refuge of last resort that has clung on in a city where tidiness, property values and civility are valued at the expense of the marginalisation of the poor and unlucky is a surprise. It is certainly not good for anyone; not the locals, not the city, and not the residents; but, perhaps, it is less bad than many alternatives.”

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6. JOHN B BARE itt BARRETT said... on Mar 29, 2014 at 12:12AM

“The health of the tenants should be a concern . There only resort for care is the emergency room and that adds to the cost of health care in the long run..
WAKE UP TO THE FACT THAT SOMEONES HAND IS BEING WASHED HERE.
NO CITY WOULD ALLOW A PROPERTY TO INFECT OUR MANKIND WITH SUCH FILTHY CONDITIONS . HEALTH DEPARTMENT CANNOT PASS THIS DUMP AS FAR AS STATE REGULATIONS. PARKER IS A DISASTER IN THE MAKING. DEATH BY DISEASE , FIRE , MURDER AND FALLING DEBRIS ON THE STREET. JBB”

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7. Gustavo said... on May 4, 2014 at 03:34PM

“I.m living in front of the "Parker Hotel" I don' understand why the City give a permission to operation in this neighborhood when many tourist come every day.
Always, every night are problems, people outside the hotel screaming during the night and disturbing all the neighborhood and the residents that as me, need wake up at 6 am go to work.
Where is the owner, they must take responsibility with the "guesses" and not allow them stay during the night standing up and screaming outside the hotel. We deserve respect as other people in this Country, and is not fair that yours "guesses" not allow us, workers" sleep during night.
PLEASE City. take action in this matter and close this place or change to another hotel that enhance our neighborhood.”

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