Inside the Dream Palace
The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel
“Tippins tells riveting stories about the Chelsea’s artists, but she also captures a much grander, and more pressing, narrative: that of the ongoing battle between art and capitalism in the city.” — The New Yorker
Since its founding by a utopian-minded French architect in 1884, New York’s Chelsea Hotel has been a hotbed of artistic invention and inspiration. Cultural luminaries from Bob Dylan to Sid Vicious, Thomas Wolfe to Andy Warhol, Dylan Thomas to Dee Dee Ramone — all made the Chelsea the largest and longest-lived artists’ community in the world. Inside the Dream Palace tells the hotel’s story, from its earliest days as a cooperative community, through its pop art, rock-and-roll, and punk periods, to its present transformation under new ownership. By exploring what it takes to maintain a creative community and how artists have enhanced and informed New York City life, Tippins, author of the acclaimed February House, delivers a lively and masterly history of the Chelsea and those who cohabitated there.
"Not only essential to the understanding of this crucial New York City — and therefore American — cultural landmark, but as majestic and populous as the edifice itself, and completely entertaining." — Daniel Menaker, author of My Mistake
“With her lively Inside the Dream Palace, literary biographer Sherill Tippins succeeds where other historians studying New York landmarks have failed: She understands that even the most splendid buildings are mere settings for the personalities that inhabit them, and wisely bypasses rote chronology for the vigor of cultural excavation . . . The Chelsea Hotel may face an uncertain future, but Tippins’s enchanting book guarantees its renown for generations to come.” — Time Out New York
Praise For Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel…
"Tippins tells riveting stories about the Chelsea’s artists, but she also captures a much grander, and more pressing, narrative: that of the ongoing battle between art and capitalism in the city."
—The New Yorker
"An impossible order for any writer: Get the Chelsea’s romance down on paper and try to keep up with Patti Smith and Joni Mitchell and Arthur Miller. But Sherill Tippins’s history does a vivid job of taking you up into those seedy, splendid hallways, now gone forever."
—New York Magazine
"An inspired investigation into the utopian spirit of the Chelsea Hotel" —
"Cool hunters will appreciate Sherill Tippins’s Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel, a social history of the city’s sanctuary for postwar artists and It girls."
“With her lively Inside the Dream Palace, literary biographer Sherill Tippins succeeds where other historians studying New York landmarks have failed: She understands that even the most splendid buildings are mere settings for the personalities that inhabit them, and wisely bypasses rote chronology for the vigor of cultural excavation… The Chelsea Hotel may face an uncertain future, but Tippins’s enchanting book guarantees its renown for generations to come.”
—Time Out New York
“Inside the Dream Palace opens door on a vivid Chelsea Hotel……[an] engaging, readable history”
—The Los Angeles Times
"A revealing biography of the fabled Manhattan hotel, in which generations of artists and writers found a haven...A zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture." —
"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." —
"Zealous, big-picture researcher Tippins not only tells compelling tales, she also weaves them into a strikingly fresh, lucid, and socially anchored history of New York’s world-altering art movements. Though its future is uncertain, Tippins ensures that the Chelsea Hotel, dream palace and microcosm, will live on in our collective memory."
“Not only essential to the understanding of this crucial New York City—and therefore American—cultural landmark but as majestic and populous as the edifice itself, and completely entertaining.” —
Daniel Menaker, author of My Mistake: A Memoir
“New York, the greatest city in the world, has been a magnet for bohemians since it was founded, and the Chelsea Hotel has been Bohemia's home address for more than a century. Sherill Tippins captures the mad magic of this storied building. She has written a history, not just of a hotel, but of a dream: the dream that art can change the world. Her serene and nonjudgmental eye gives coherence and shape to a story that resists any conventional frame. The Chelsea has had its high points and low, supreme artistic achievements and drug-addled suicides, sometimes in the same room. Tippins is an indispensable urban historian; her book is a guide to the lofty aspirations and crashing disappointments of America's artistic avant-garde over the last century and a half. An unforgettable read.”
—Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, New York Public Theater
“The Chelsea Hotel is so much more than the place where Sid Vicious may or may not have killed his girlfriend; it was a social experiment turned incubator for creativity. It was home for the artists and weirdos that made this city so interesting—famous, infamous, and everything in between. Sherill Tippins has done a masterful job of condensing a history that could be volumes long, into a book that’s enthralling, enlightening and understandably wistful.”
—Judy McGuire, author of The Official Book of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Lists
“An amazing history of not only the Chelsea Hotel but New York City itself. Thank you, Sherill Tippins, for this exciting story of how a building became a community and went on to be a legend. Inside the Dream Palace reads like the best fiction and never ever slows down from beginning to end.”
—Country Joe McDonald, activist and lead singer of Country Joe and the Fish
Mariner Books, 9780544334472, 496pp.
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
About the Author
SHERILL TIPPINS is the author of February House: The Story of W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten and Gypsy Rose Lee Under One Roof in Wartime America. She lives in New York City.