The Chelsea Hotel, since its founding by a visionary French architect in 1884, has been an icon of American invention: a cultural dynamo and haven for the counterculture, all in one astonishing building. Read more...
The Chelsea Hotel, since its founding by a visionary French architect in 1884, has been an icon of American invention: a cultural dynamo and haven for the counterculture, all in one astonishing building. Sherill Tippins, author of the acclaimed "February House," delivers a masterful and endlessly entertaining history of the Chelsea and of the successive generations of artists who have cohabited and created there, among them John Sloan, Edgar Lee Masters, Thomas Wolfe, Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Sam Shepard, Sid Vicious, and Dee Dee Ramone. Now as legendary as the artists it has housed and the countless creative collaborations it has sparked, the Chelsea has always stood as a mystery as well: Why and how did this hotel become the largest and longest-lived artists community in the known world? "Inside the Dream Palace" is the intimate and definitive story.
Today the Chelsea stands poised in limbo between two futures: Will this symbol of New York's artistic invention be converted to a profit-driven business catering to the top one percent? Or will the Chelsea be given a rebirth through painstaking effort by the community that loves it? Set against these two competing possibilities, "Inside the Dream Palace" could not be more fascinating or timely."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-08-05
- Reviewer: Staff
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.)