Days Gone By,  Landmarks,  Streetscapes

Dakota Apartments a Magnet For the Rich and Famous

So much has been written about The Dakota Apartments over the years that it is almost impossible to come up with new or interesting facts that have yet to be documented! One thing for sure is that these apartments have been a magnet for the rich and famous since the building opened its’ doors in the late 1800’s.

History of the Dakota Apartments

Edward Cabot Clark, a co-founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, was the original owner. When he selected the location for the building site, it was certainly not among the more fashionable sections of New York. Initially referred to as “Clark’s Folly” due to its rambling size and isolated location, it was subsequently named ‘The Dakota.’ Legend has it that the Dakota got its’ name due to its remote standing in this uninhabited area of Manhattan. (The Dakota Territory (now North and South Dakota) was considered remote at the time).

Clark selected the renowned architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh to design the building. The structure was built between 1880-1884 in German Renaissance Revival style. Upon its’ completion, the apartments were fully rented and managed for over eight decades by the Clark family.

The Dakota’s address was originally 301 W. 72nd Street, as this was when addresses were based upon their distance from 5th Ave. That changed in 1886 when house numbers were assigned based on their distance from Central Park West. The Dakota’s new address then became 1 W. 72nd Street.

Famous Residents

In 1961, Dakota residents purchased the building and converted it into a cooperative. Over the years, residents have tended to live in the building for several decades. The New York Times once observed, “it is reported that no Dakota residents leave the building permanently unless it is feet first.” The apartments have been home to luminaries such as Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, Rosemary Clooney, Joe Namath, and Paul Simon. Its most famous couple was undoubtedly John Lennon and Yoko Ono. John Lennon was tragically shot and killed in the buildings archway (photo below) in 1980.

Over the years, the Dakota Board has refused entry to some high profile individuals. Reportedly, these have included Billy Joel, Carly Simon, Madonna, Cher, and Alex Rodriguez. The Dakota is probably the most famous of all Manhattan apartments and was designated a National Historic Landmark in December 1976.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *