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Gypsy Rose Lee
'Inside the Dream Palace' opens door on a vivid Chelsea Hotel
'Inside the Dream Palace' opens door on a vivid Chelsea Hotel

Before Patti Smith, before Allen Ginsberg, before Thomas Wolfe, before O. Henry, the Chelsea Hotel was populated by 80 convivial families of various levels of wealth, brought together by an idealistic board partly inspired by a French philosopher so radical some thought him mad. That was back at the turn of the century — the 20th century — which is where Sherill Tippins begins her engaging, readable history, "Inside the Dream Palace." It tells the story of the remarkable building, opened in 1884 on 23rd Street in New York City, and its legendary inhabitants, but it does something more, presenting an oft-overlooked current of American utopianism, one that was urban,...

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