Charlie Geter had been living in the Palace Hotel, a flophouse on New York City’s Bowery, for over twenty-five years when producers David Isay and Stacy Abramson met him while working on their documentary The Sunshine Hotel. Impressed by his heart and drive, they gave Charlie a tape recorder and asked him to interview other residents of the Palace Hotel and to tell his life story.

Charlie worked on the project for nearly two years, recording late into the night and struggling to get interviews from the other hotel residents. Charlie now lives — in his own apartment — in Manhattan.

Recorded in New York City. Premiered December 30, 1998, on All Things Considered.

This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.