The Dakota

The Dakota
Dakota Apartments
The Dakota
The Dakota is located in New York City
Location: Manhattan, New York
Coordinates: 40°46′35.74″N 73°58′35.44″W / 40.7765944°N 73.9765111°W / 40.7765944; -73.9765111Coordinates: 40°46′35.74″N 73°58′35.44″W / 40.7765944°N 73.9765111°W / 40.7765944; -73.9765111
Built: 1880
Architect: Henry J. Hardenbergh
Architectural style: Renaissance
Governing body: Private
NRHP Reference#: 72000869
Significant dates
Added to NRHP: April 26, 1972[1]
Designated NHL: December 8, 1976[2]

The Dakota, constructed from October 25, 1880 to October 27, 1884,[3] is a co-op 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.[4] The building is most widely known as the location of the murder of musician John Lennon.

The architectural firm of Henry Janeway Hardenbergh was commissioned to create the design for Edward Clark, head of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. The firm also designed the Plaza Hotel.[5]

The building's high gables and deep roofs with a profusion of dormers, terracotta spandrels and panels, niches, balconies, and balustrades give it a North German Renaissance character, an echo of a Hanseatic townhall. Nevertheless, its layout and floor plan betray a strong influence of French architectural trends in housing design that had become known in New York in the 1870s.

According to often repeated stories, the Dakota was so named because at the time it was built, the Upper West Side of Manhattan was sparsely inhabited and considered as remote as the Dakota Territory. However, the earliest recorded appearance of this account is in a 1933 newspaper story. 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.[6] High above the 72nd Street entrance, the figure of a Dakota Indian keeps watch. The Dakota was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.[2][7]



The Dakota from Central Park, c. 1890
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
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.[8] Since then, the large condominium building "The Harrison" occupies its spot. As of 2011, there is no onsite commemoration of the stable building having ever existed.

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. (In the Stuyvesant building, which was built in 1869, a mere ten years earlier, and which is considered Manhattan's first apartment building in the French style, many apartments have windows to one side only.) 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 (although in the apartment of Clark, the building's founder, famously, some floors were inlaid with sterling silver).

Originally, the Dakota had sixty-five apartments with four to twenty 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.

The Dakota was a huge social success from the very start (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.

Death of John Lennon

The building was the home of former Beatle John Lennon from 1973 on, and was the location of Lennon's murder by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980. As of 2010, Lennon's wife, 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. Every year, Ono marks the anniversary of Lennon's death with a now-public pilgrimage to the memorial, and by placing a single lit candle in the window of one of her apartments.[9]

In popular culture

Fence detail
  • In the film Rosemary's Baby, the Dakota is used for exterior shots of the apartment building where the couple lives.
  • In the film Cruel Intentions, the Dakota is used for the exterior shots of the apartment building where Kathryn and Sebastian live.
  • It is also the home of Hunter Rose, from the graphic novel series Grendel.[10]
  • It is also the home of Tsukasa Domyouji, from the popular 2007 Japanese live-action drama Hana Yori Dango Returns.

Notable residents

Archival photograph of the South entrance
Elevation (south, the front of the building)

Well-known residents of the Dakota building have included:

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."[35] Even prior to this, both Gene Simmons,[36] Billy Joel,[37] and Carly Simon[38] 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.[39]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Dakota Apartments". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-11. 
  3. ^ Historic American Buildings Survey, The Dakota (Apartments), 1 West 72nd Street, Central Park West, New York, New York County, NY, page 2. URL last. Retrieved 24 October 2006.
  4. ^ Brockmann, Jorg et al. (2002). One Thousand New York Buildings, pp. 342–343. at Google Books
  5. ^ 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."
  6. ^ Gray, Christopher. New York Streetscapes. Harry N. Abrams, Inc.. pp. 326–328. ISBN 0810944413. 
  7. ^ Carolyn Pitts (1976-08-10) (PDF). National Register of Historic Places Inventory: Dakota Apartments. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-21  and Accompanying photos, exterior, undatedPDF (1.65 MB)
  8. ^ Christopher Gray: "Streetscapes: The Dakota Stables; A 'Soft-Site' Garage on the Booming West Side", The New York Times, 24 May 1987 accessed 7 December 2010.
  9. ^ The Dakota Retrieved July 18, 2007.
  10. ^ Grendel: Devil Child #1, pp. 1–5
  11. ^ "A Repository for the Rich" "The New York Times" April 20, 2008
  12. ^ "At Home With Lauren Bacall" The New York Times Home & Garden section, February 24, 2005
  13. ^ "New York Observer" 29 June 1992
  14. ^ "Ward Bennett, 85, Dies; Designed With American Style", "The New York Times" August 16, 2003
  15. ^ "Buy Leonard Bernstein's Dakota Apartment for Only 25.5 Million" November 5, 2006
  16. ^ a b c d Appleton, Kate. "Landmarks: The Dakota". New York Magazine website. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  17. ^ "Life At The Dakota", Stephen Birmingham, 1979.
  18. ^ "Thriller at the Dakota! Harlan Coben's Discounted Duplex", The New York Observor, April 21, 2010
  19. ^ a b c Kane, Larry (2005). Lennon Revealed. Running Press. p. 20. ISBN 9780762423644. 
  20. ^ Elder, Roberta Flack interview, The Sydney Mordning Herald, January 28, 2009 accessed 20 January 2010
  21. ^ Haughney, Christine (December 6, 2010). "Sharing the Dakota With John Lennon". The New York Times. 
  22. ^ "Homesteading at the Dakota," The New York Times. July 27, 2010, p. R–2; Ruth P. Smith's apartment was once the home of Lillian Gish.
  23. ^ a b "Here At The Dakota," "New York Magazine", June 18, 1979, page 44
  24. ^ Haughney, Christine (2010-12-06). "Sharing the Dakota With John Lennon –". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  25. ^ Rosenblum, Constance (August 2, 2009). "A Life in Pictures: Albert Maysles". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  26. ^ The contents of Rudolf Nureyev's Dakota apartment fetched almost $8 million in a two-day sale at Christie's ("Nureyev Auction Tops Estimates", The New York Times, January 15, 1995)
  27. ^ "Joe Namath Looses Some Of His Padding", "New York Daily News" February 21, 2000
  28. ^ Stephen Birmingham, Life at the Dakota: New York's most unusual address 1996:85.
  29. ^ "A Morning at the Dakota", "The Washington Post" February 19, 2008
  30. ^ "We lived in the legendary Dakota apartment building and held each other tight on the night John Lennon was killed." (Radner, It's Always Something)
  31. ^ He and his wife Lauren Bacall shared an apartment
  32. ^ A Morning at the Dakota", "The Washington Post" February 19, 2008
  33. ^ "Who's Killing Betsey?", "New York Magazine" May 13, 1996
  34. ^ Robert Ryan (I) - Biography
  35. ^ Neuman, William (June 19, 2005). "New Co-op for Soup Executive". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  36. ^ Tony Schwartz. "Plan by Nixon to Buy Co-op in City Is Opposed by Some Other Owners :Board Vote Called Favorable." The New York Times, August 1, 1979.
  37. ^ Albin Krebs. "Notes on People: Dakota Blocks Billy Joel's Bid to Buy Apartment." The New York Times, June 28, 1980
  38. ^ "Carly Simon Sues For Flat Deposit", BBC News, September 29, 2003
  39. ^ Max Abelson. "Dakota-Spurned Cardboard Magnate Mehiel Asking $35 M. for Carhart Mansion Duplex." The New York Observer, August 12, 2008
  • Birmingham, S.: Life at the Dakota, Syracuse University Press. Reprint edition, 1996. ISBN 0-8156-0338-X. Originally published by Random House, 1979, ISBN 0-394-41079-3.
  • Brockmann, Jorg and Bill Harris. (2002). One Thousand New York Buildings. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal. 10-ISBN 157912237X/13-ISBN 9781579122379; OCLC 48619292
  • 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 synopses, 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.

External links

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