NYC – UWS: Dakota Apartments
Image by wallyg
One of New York City’s best known apartment buildings, The Dakota was constructed from OCtober 25, 1880 to October 27, 1884–a time when the upper West Side was sparsely populated. George Henry Griebel and Karl Jacobson of Henry Janeway Hardenbergh was commissioned to do the design for Edward Clark, head of the Singer Sewing Machine Company whose firm also designed the Plaza Hotel.
According to popular legend, 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. High above the 72nd Street entrance, the figure of a Dakota Indian keeps watch. Note the railings with "griffins and Zeuses, or are they Neptunes and sea monsters?" (AIA)
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. The Dakota is built in a square-shape around a central courtyard, accessible through the arched passage of the main entrance, a porte cochère large enough that horse-drawn carriages could pass.
Originally, the Dakota had 65 apartments with four to twenty rooms, no two alike. The general layout of the apartments is in the French style of the period, with all major rooms accessible from a hall or corridor, allowing for a natural migration of guests. The principal rooms such as parlors or the master bedroom face the street, while the dining room, the kitchen, and other auxiliary rooms are oriented on the courtyard. Apartments are thus aired from two sides, which was a relative novelty in New York at the time.
The Dakota is well known through popular culture–best known as the home of former Beatle John Lennon, starting in 1973. He was murdered outside the building on December 8, 1980 by Mark David Chapman and is memoraliazed in the nearby Strawberry Fields of Central Park. Director Roman Polanski filmed the exteriors for Rosemary’s Baby at the Dakota, but the interiors were created in a Hollywood soundstage since the building does not allow filming inside. Similarly Cameron Crowe shot exteriors here for protaganist David Aames’ residence in Vanilla Sky.
Other well known one-time residents of the Dakota have include Yoko Ono, Andrew Carnegi Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, Bono, Connie Chung and Maury Povich, Roberta Flack, Judy Garland, Judy Holliday, John Madden, Boris Karloff, Mills Lane, Gilda Radner, Paul Simon and Jerry Seinfeld.
In 2007, The Dakota Apartments was ranked #87 on the AIA 150 America’s Favorite Architecture list.
The Dakota Apartments were designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1979.
National Register #72000869 (1972)