The Dakota (also known as Dakota Apartments) is a cooperative apartment building located on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. Constructed between October 25, 1880 and October 27, 1884, the building is known as the home of former Beatle John Lennon from 1973 to 1980 as well as the location of his murder. The Dakota is considered to be one of Manhattan's most prestigious and exclusive cooperative residential buildings, with apartments generally selling for between $4 million and $30 million.
The Dakota was purportedly so named because at the time of construction, the Upper West Side of Manhattan was sparsely inhabited and considered as remote in relation to the inhabited area of Manhattan as the Dakota Territory was. However, the earliest recorded appearance of this account is in a 1933 newspaper interview with the Dakota's long-time manager, quoted in Christopher Gray's book New York Streetscapes: "Probably it was called 'Dakota' because it was so far west and so far north". According to Gray, it is more likely that the building was named the Dakota because of Clark's fondness for the names of the new western states and territories. High above the 72nd Street entrance, the figure of a Dakota Indian keeps watch.
The Dakota c. 1890; at the time, this area of Manhattan was only sparsely developed, and remote from the core of the city's population
South entrance, where John Lennon was shot
The Dakota is square, built around a central courtyard. The arched main entrance is a porte cochère large enough for the horse-drawn carriages that once entered and allowed passengers to disembark sheltered from the weather. Many of these carriages were housed in a multi-story stable building built in two sections, 1891–94, at the southwest corner of 77th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, where elevators lifted them to the upper floors. The "Dakota Stables" building was in operation as a garage until February 2007, when it was slated to be transformed by the Related Companies into a condominium residence. Since then, the large condominium building The Harrison occupies its spot.
The general layout of the apartments is in the French style of the period, with all major rooms not only connected to each other, in enfilade, in the traditional way, but also accessible from a hall or corridor, an arrangement that allows a natural migration for guests from one room to another, especially on festive occasions, yet gives service staff discreet separate circulation patterns that offer service access to the main rooms. The principal rooms, such as parlors or the master bedroom, face the street, while the dining room, kitchen, and other auxiliary rooms are oriented toward the courtyard. Apartments thus are aired from two sides, which was a relative novelty in Manhattan at the time. Some of the drawing rooms are 49 ft (15 m) long, and many of the ceilings are 14 ft (4.3 m) high; the floors are inlaid with mahogany, oak, and cherry.
Originally, the Dakota had 65 apartments with four to 20 rooms, no two being alike. These apartments are accessed by staircases and elevators placed in the four corners of the courtyard. Separate service stairs and elevators serving the kitchens are located in mid-block. Built to cater for the well-to-do, the Dakota featured many amenities and a modern infrastructure that was exceptional for the time. The building has a large dining hall; meals also could be sent up to the apartments by dumbwaiters. Electricity was generated by an in-house power plant and the building has central heating. Beside servant quarters, there was a playroom and a gymnasium under the roof. In later years, these spaces on the tenth floor were converted into apartments for economic reasons. The Dakota property also contained a garden, private croquet lawns, and a tennis court behind the building between 72nd and 73rd Streets.
All apartments were let before the building opened, but it was a long-term drain on the fortune of Clark, who died before it was completed, and his heirs. For the high society of Manhattan, it became fashionable to live in the building, or at least to rent an apartment there as a secondary city residence, and the Dakota's success prompted the construction of many other luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan.
An entrance to the 72nd Street station (ABC trains) is outside the building.
The Dakota was the home of former BeatleJohn Lennon from 1973 until his murder. On the night of December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman shot Lennon in the Dakota's 72nd Street entryway as the singer was returning home from a recording session. Lennon was pronounced dead upon arrival at nearby Roosevelt Hospital. As of 2010, Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, still has several apartments in the building. The Strawberry Fields memorial was laid out in memory of Lennon in Central Park directly across Central Park West.
Although historically home to many creative or artistic people, the building and its co-op board of directors were criticized in 2005 by former resident Albert Maysles. He attempted to sell his ownership to actors Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, but they were rejected. Maysles expressed his "disappointment with the way the building seems to be changing" by telling The New York Times: "What's so shocking is that the building is losing its touch with interesting people. More and more, they're moving away from creative people and going toward people who just have the money." Even prior to this, Gene Simmons,Billy Joel, and Carly Simon were denied residency by the board. In 2002 The Dakota rejected corrugated-cardboard magnate and Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of New York, Dennis Mehiel.
In popular culture
In the film Rosemary's Baby, the Dakota is used for exterior shots of "The Bramford," the apartment building where several of the characters live.
In the TV series Frasier, Niles Crane lives in an exclusive apartment called "The Montana" - a parody of The Dakota.
^The superintendent of the construction of the Dakota Building was George Henry Griebel, born and trained in Berlin, Prussia, and Karl Jacobson, who were hired as architects for the project. "Griebel also designed and supervised buildings for the Clark Estate for a period of eighteen years after building the Dakota Building including the Singer Manufacturing Company Office Building on Third Avenue and Sixteenth Street, fourteen houses on West Eighty-fifth St, a row of houses on West Seventy-fourth Street; both being near Columbus Ave,the Barnett Store, Columbus and Seventy-fourth St and many others."
^Gray, Christopher. New York Streetscapes. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. pp. 326–328. ISBN0-8109-4441-3.
Schoenauer, N.: 6000 Years of Housing, 3rd ed., pp. 335 – 336, W.W. Norton & Co., 2001. ISBN 0-393-73120-0.
Alpern, A.: New York's fabulous luxury apartments: with original floor plans from the Dakota, River House, Olympic Tower, and other great buildings. New York: Dover Publications, 1975, 1987, Exterior views and sample floor plans as well as brief historical synopsis, each with architect, builder, date built, and when applicable, date razed.
Van Pelt, D. Leslie's History of the Greater New York, Volume III New York: Arkell Publishing Company 110 Fifth Avenue, 1898,
L. A. Williams Publishing and Engraving Company. Encyclopedia of Biography and Genealogy, vol. III pp. 656.
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