ⓘ The Dakota


ⓘ The Dakota

The Dakota, also known as the 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 the borough of Manhattan in New York City, United States. Its construction was completed in 1884. The Dakota was the home of John Lennon, a former member of the Beatles, from 1973 until his murder in the archway of the building in 1980.


1. History

The Dakota was constructed between October 25, 1880, and October 27, 1884. Henry Janeway Hardenberghs architectural firm was commissioned to create the design for Edward Cabot Clark, head of the Singer Manufacturing Company. The building purportedly was named The Dakota because at the time of its construction, the area was sparsely inhabited and considered remote from the inhabited area of Manhattan, just as the Dakota Territory was considered remote. The earliest appearance of this story, however, was in a 1933 newspaper interview with The Dakotas long-time manager. Christopher Grays book New York Streetscapes quotes the interaction thus: "Probably it was called Dakota because it was so far west and so far north". Gray believed that the buildings name stemmed from Clarks fondness for the names of the new western states and territories.

The Dakota was designated a New York City Landmark in 1969. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

The buildings facade was renovated in 2015.


2. Features

The buildings high gables and deep roofs with a profusion of dormers, terracotta spandrels and panels, niches, balconies, and balustrades give it a German Renaissance character and an echo of a Hanseatic town hall. Its layout and floor plan, however, were strongly influenced by French architectural trends in housing design that had become known in New York City in the 1870s. High above the 72nd Street entrance sits the face of a Dakota Indian.

The Dakota is a square building built around a central courtyard. The arched main entrance is a porte-cochere 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 between 1891 and 1894, 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 connected to each other, in enfilade, and also accessible from a hall or corridor. The arrangement 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 feet 15 m long, and many of the ceilings are 14 feet 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 apartments 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 mid-block. Built to cater to 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. 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 Dakotas success prompted the construction of many other luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan.

An entrance to the 72nd Street station of the New York City Subways B and ​ C trains is outside the building.


3. Notable residents

Notable residents of The Dakota 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, who were rejected by the board. Maysles expressed his "disappointment with the way the building seems to be changing" by telling The New York Times: "Whats so shocking is that the building is losing its touch with interesting people. More and more, theyre moving away from creative people and going toward people who just have the money." Even before this, Gene Simmons, Billy Joel, and Carly Simon were denied residency by the board. In 2002, the board rejected Dennis Mehiel, the corrugated cardboard magnate and Democratic Party nominee for lieutenant governor of New York.


4. Cultural significance

The south entrance of the building was the location of the murder of John Lennon and is prominently featured in Andrew Piddingtons 2006 film The Killing of John Lennon, although the Dakota itself was only used for exterior shots. In Roman Polanskis 1968 film Rosemarys Baby, the Dakota was used for exterior shots of "The Bramford", the apartment building in which the story takes place.