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

Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 8:39 am

In brief


A history of the Chelsea Hotel, also known as the coolest building on Earth.

In May 2012, I had the good fortune of being in New York City when Jerry Weinstein was offering one of his rare tours of the Chelsea Hotel. Jerry is perhaps as legendary as the hotel, having worked at the front desk since 1979, and he had all the inside scoop on many of the hotel's celebrity residents, including writers, actors and musicians. He showed me Meryl Streep's favorite suite; the room where Marilyn Monroe lived with her husband, playwright Arthur Miller; and the exact spot where Sid Vicious killed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungeon.

A refuge for misfits and miscreants, artists and poets, geniuses and junkies, the Chelsea Hotel, built 1883-1885, sheltered the likes of Mark Twain, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Charles Bukowski, Bob Dylan, Dylan Thomas (who died there), Stanley Kubrick and Ryan Adams. The hotel has inspired songs, poems, movies, photo essays and books, including Chelsea Horror Hotel: A Novel by Dee Dee Ramone.

Although an excellent and accommodating backdrop, Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel by Sherill Tippins puts the Chelsea at center stage and offers readers a thorough look at the hotel's beginnings and long history as a New York City landmark and must-see for visitors around the world.

Tippins loves the Chelsea as much as Jerry Weinstein-- as much as me-- and Inside the Dream Palace is a textbook primer in how a hotel can be transformed, by understanding and extremely generous people, to a home for creative, lost and curious souls.