Friday, September 11, 2015

15 Crazy Facts about The Dakota That You May Not Have Heard Before

The Dakota was built between 1880 and 1884, and is famous 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.


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. (via Wikipedia)

Stories of ghost sightings have loomed around the building — located at 72nd Street and Central Park West — for years. But even more intimidating than its rumors of hauntings is the Gothic-style building's picky co-op board, which has made a sport of rejecting rich and famous applicants. Here are the 15 most fascinating facts about The Dakota, via Business Insider.

1. John Lennon was shot dead in front of The Dakota by a crazed fan

On December 8, 1980, Lennon was assassinated by Mark David Chapman outside The Dakota. He died at Roosevelt Hospital at age 40 after releasing his album "Double Fantasy."

John Lennon signs an autograph for Mark Chapman - his murderer. December 8, 1980.

2. Yoko Ono still lives in The Dakota and says she saw Lennon's ghost there

Ono and husband Lennon moved into The Dakota in 1973. Ono stayed in the building after Lennon's death and, according to the New York Post's Page Six, saw her husband's ghost sitting at his white piano. She says he told her, "Don't be afraid. I am still with you."

Yoko Ono in the music room of her Dakota apartment just months after the murder of her husband, 1981. (© Allan Tannenbaum)

3. When he was alive, Lennon told Ono he saw a 'crying lady ghost' in the building

The Beatles musician told his wife he had seen the ghost roaming the halls.

Yoko Ono and John Lennon outside the Dakota in New York City, November 21, 1980. (© Allan Tannenbaum)

4. The building has no fire escapes

Architect Henry J. Hardenbergh purposely avoided fire escapes by slathering mud from Central Park between the layers of brick flooring to fireproof and soundproof the building.

Dakota elevation (via Wikipedia)

5. Tenants are 'forbidden' to throw away original doors and fireplace mantels

If tenants want to rid apartments of these items, there is a special storage area.

The Dakota from Central Park, c. 1890. (via Wikipedia)

6. The original owner's former apartment has sterling-silver floors

Singer Sewing Machine Company founder Edward Clark commissioned The Dakota as a $1 million apartment building for 60 families, including his own. Clark, however, died in 1882, two years before the building was completed.

Edward Clark, c. 1850 (via Wikipedia)

7. According to legend, it gets its name from its far-west location

People liked to joke that it might as well have been built in the Dakotas.

The Dakota’s rooftop and courtyard complex from the adjoining apartment house at 15 West 72nd St., looking east to Central Park. (Source: Columbus Ave. Magazine via Bloomberg)

8. It has been a magnet for the rich and famous since it opened in 1884

The building was reportedly fully rented before it even opened, thanks to a glowing New York Times review. The Steinway family, of Steinway piano fame, was one of The Dakota's first residents. Though he died in 1883, Peter Tchaikovsky is said to have lived there (perhaps he lived in it before its completion). Actress Lauren Bacall owned a nine-room apartment for 53 years that recently sold for $23.5 million.

Other notable residents have included author Harlan Coben, U2's Bono, Rex Reed, Jack Palance, Lillian Gish, Boris Karloff, Rosemary Clooney, Connie Chung, and Maury Povich.

Lauren Bacall in her N.Y.C. apartment in 1969. (Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

9. The building had zero vacancies for 45 years after it opened

From 1884 to 1929, all 65 of The Dakota's apartments — each with a reported four bathrooms, parlor, and servant quarters — remained spoken for.

The western facade of the Dakota, circa 1889. (Source: Office for Metropolitan History via Bloomberg)

10. The current application process is insane

Hopefuls must submit years of financial statements and tax documents, go through a background check, and pay a fee of over $1,000. After applicants complete the rigorous application process, the co-op board can still deny them.

Back in 2011, the co-op board was accused of bias and faced a defamation and racial-discrimination lawsuit by a former board member who lived in The Dakota.

The Dakota's South entrance, 1964. (Image courtesy of Historic American Buildings Survey—HABS.)

11. Celebrities don't get special treatment

Notable celebrities who have been rejected by The Dakota co-op board include Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, Cher, Billy Joel, Madonna, Carly Simon, Alex Rodriguez, Judd Apatow, and Tea Leoni.

(Photo: Flickr/Wally Gobetz)

12. One particularly odd 10-room apartment has been for sale for 8 years

Apartment 26 has been on and off the market for the past eight years, dropping from a $19.5 million asking price to a recent price of $14.5 million.

Apartment 46: A 10-room, four-bedroom apartment listed (by Warburg) at the Dakota for $14.5 million. (Source: Warburg via Bloomberg)

13. It's rumored that $30,000 is buried under the floor of Lennon and Ono's apartment

According to author Stephen Birmingham's 1996 book, "Life at the Dakota," the previous resident of John and Yoko's apartment hid the money under the master-bedroom floor. Whether that's true will remain a question, as the board refuses to destroy the floor to solve the mystery.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono in their Dakota's living room, 1980. (Photo by Kishin Shinoyama)

14. Its boilers could heat every structure in a 4-block radius

The Dakota has an in-house power plant, so its residents will never have to shiver.

New York circa 1912. Dakota Apartments, Central Park West and West 72nd Street. (via Shorpy)

15. Leonard Bernstein's former apartment was the building's most expensive sale

Located on the second floor, the four-bedroom, four-bathroom apartment had a library, a formal dining room, a wood fireplace, kitchen and breakfast areas, and views of Central park. It was listed at $25.5 million and sold for $21 million.

Leonard Bernstein with Felicia, Jamie, Alexander, and Nina in their Dakota apartment. Holiday card. (Library of Congress)

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