Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel

Sherill Tippins. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30 (448p) ISBN 978-0-618-72634-9
In this wide-ranging history, literary biographer Tippins explores the Chelsea Hotel’s role as a refuge for artists and eccentrics for over a century. Built in 1884 by a French architect, Philip Hubert, who had been deeply influenced by the utopian philosopher Charles Fourier, the Chelsea immediately became a center of counter-culture in New York City. Evolving and devolving through two world wars, the Great Depression, and ever-changing management, the Chelsea somehow managed to provide a haven for bohemians from around the world, even as the rooms were subdivided, the plumbing decayed, and pimps, junkies, and dealers roamed the halls. Tippins smoothly conveys the atmosphere at the Chelsea in its early days through her descriptions of Gilded Age luminaries like William Dean Howells, while she focuses on the hard-drinking Thomas Wolfe and the suave composer Virgil Thomson in her treatment of the Depression era. However, the prose comes fully alive as Tippins documents the shifting currents of New York bohemia in the decades after WWII. The list of luminaries who helped to create the Chelsea magic include Arthur Miller, Arthur C. Clarke, Edie Sedgwick, Harry Smith, Bob Dylan, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jack Kerouac, and many, many others—a veritable who’s-who of American postwar artists. A fascinating account of how a single building in New York City nurtured a community of freaks, dreamers, and outcasts whose rejection of the status quo helped to transform it. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 12/03/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 448 pages - 978-0-7432-9561-1
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-544-00306-4
Paperback - 457 pages - 978-0-544-33447-2
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-1-4165-2754-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-5226-6698-1
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