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The Dakota: 1912

The Dakota: 1912

New York circa 1912. "Dakota Apartments, Central Park West and West 72nd Street." 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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I've been inside once

I was inside the Dakota once, at a political fundraiser in about 1995. The apartment belonged to the head of the European equities desk at a large hedge fund. It was very large, and clearly very expensive, but it was not as fabulous as the glass-walled penthouses overlooking the city in many other buildings, or even some of the (probably much less expensive) apartments in less famous buildings, but which have large terraces overlooking central park.

In Memoriam

In the new 4-CD Lennon compilation "Gimme Some Truth" there's a booklet that includes a photo of Lennon and Ono in their bedroom. Assuming it was taken at the Dakota, it's far less fancy then you would expect the apartment of a wealthy icon to be today.

While it's a large room by New York City postwar apartment standards, it's not large by McMansion standards. The wall behind the bed is painted brick and there's nothing all that fancy in the room.

As for Jenny Pennifer's comments, you certainly have the right to make any comments you like, but you obviously don't have a clue as to Lennon's impact, either culturally, politically or musically. To understand that impact, all you have to do is look up the hundreds, if not thousands of other artists who have recorded his songs, see the number of people who gather at Strawberry Fields or at the Dakota each day and listen to the radio where his songs are still played 30 to 47 years after they were written.

Lennon did not tear at our society except to try and stop an illegal and useless war (what happened when we finally pulled out? Nothing except people stopped being killed.) and to fight for peace and the rights of all human beings.

And I'll take "hippie freakdom" over the money and 15 minutes of fame obsessed (think Jersey Shore) and the cruel internet culture we live with today.

Time and Again and Again

Nobody is going to mention Simon Morley using the Dakota as a time machine to travel back to the blustery cold winter days of 1882 in Jack Finney's novel "Time and Again?" It's such a fun and well researched book.

[Somebody did mention it! - Dave]

A creepy place.

I never liked that building from the time I first saw it in Rosemary's Baby, and that was some 12 years before Lennon was shot. It creeped me out then and creeps me out now, just looking at it.

The Killer

It sort of pleases me that none of the 27 or so commenters has mentioned the name of John Lennon's murderer and neither will I. He is now 55 years old, serving 20 years to life, he has been denied parole six times. Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York houses him, it is a perfect alternative to a death sentence.

They don't build them like that anymore

The Dakota is one of the most beautiful buildings in NYC.

BTW, I was a teen watching Monday Night Football when Cosell announced Lennon's death on air. You can hear it here.

December 9, 1980

I was decorating my Christmas tree as my first child, who was three months old to the day (she's 30 now, obviously), watched from her infantseat. I was never a Beatles fan but I do remember the night they debuted on the Ed Sullivan Show; I was sitting on the couch after my bath, in my pajamas, a five-year-old wondering what all the fuss was about. The night John Lennon died I was listening to the radio and honestly -- and I know this next part won't be appreciated by many, but it's a free country and I believe we still enjoy free speech, at least for a little while longer -- after an hour or so I got a little tired of hearing the late Beatle practically elevated to sainthood by the announcer and every caller. I called the radio station not to speak ill of the dead, but to point out that perhaps we should temper our comments understanding that this man and what he stood for did a great deal to tear at the fabric of our society. (I don't think anyone really believes hippie-freakdom fueled by rock music has done all of us a world of good. Why do we have to act like it has?) The announcer, once he was onto my gist, hung up on me. So much for free speech. But I do adore Johnny Depp so maybe I'm a great big hypocrite. You make the call.

Every time I see the Dakota

One of my favorite Christine Lavin songs: The Dakota. [YouTube link]

It was a Monday morning, I was coming in from a long trip on the road.
I flagged a cab near the East Side Terminal,
I said, "Please take me home."
We drove up along Third Avenue, crossed through Central Park.
When we came out at Seventy second Street,
I felt a cold chill in my heart.

Every time I see the Dakota, I think about that night.
Shots ringing out, the angry shouts,
A man losing his life.
Well, it's something we shouldn't dwell upon,
But it's something we shouldn't ignore.
Too many good men have been cut down,
Let's pray there won't be any more.


Words and Music by Christine Lavin

Unforgettable moment

I was living in Madison, Wisconsin on Langdon Street and walked over to Rocky Rococo's Pizza on State Street near campus to enjoy a slab of Pizza and watch Monday Night Football. The game coverage (the voice over commentary) was interrupted and I think I first heard of the news either from an announcement read by Howard Cosell or Frank Gifford. Then they broke in with an actual news bulletin that indicated he had been shot and was en route to the hospital. In the time that it took to walk back over to Langdon Street and enter my apartment it was announced that he had died. I turned on the radio and heard the actual announcement he had died and just recall thinking what a bizarre thing this was. His then recently released album was already getting a lot of play in Madison, and after the news it was complete saturation.


I was home on leave from the Navy watching the Dolphins/Patriots game on Monday Night Football with my Dad when Howard Cosell came on and announced that John Lennon had been shot. Awful.

I heard the news that night oh boy

I had read about Lennon's upcoming album back in October. And every so often, I'd tune up the AM dial (how quaint) and down the FM dial, hoping to hear one of the new songs. I was doing that the night of December 8, when I caught "Just Like Starting Over" halfway through. I recognized the old-time rock-and-roll style which had been described in the newspaper preview (which Lennon referred to as "Elvis Orbison.") And I liked it-- no avant garde, experimental, primal scream, political stuff-- just fun.

When the record ended, the DJ said "We'll have more details on the death of John Lennon right after this," and they went to a commercial break. I was so shocked, I tried to bend what the DJ had said, to something I could handle. Perhaps he had introduced the record by telling people to listen for "clues" that John is Also Dead? (Goofing off on the Paul is Dead hoax.) Or, if he was really dead, I was wondering, From What?

Before the DJ returned, a friend called me and said that Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football had reported John Lennon had been murdered. So I had just that minute and a half of "Cool, he's back, and it sounds great!"

John Lennon at 70

Here's a computer image of what John may have looked like when he was 70 years of age.

Si Morley was here

I first heard of this building in one of my favorite books, Jack Finney's "Time and Again," published in 1970 or so. The Dakota is nearly a character in its own right in this book. What a beautiful building.

Happy Birthday John

His music is so timeless and inspirational. I hope he found the peace he wanted so much in life.

What were you doing the evening of 9 Dec. 1980?

I see that there are many here who also know that John Winston Ono Lennon would have been 70 years old today. I would guess that you also remember what you were doing when you heard the terrible announcement that he had been murdered. I was on my way home from a job I had singing Christmas carols for shoppers at ZCMI Center in Salt Lake City. I shed quite a few tears that night, and the next day. It is hard for most people to understand why some of us love him so much. It is absolutely not your run-of-the-mill celebrity worship. There was something special about John Lennon that was still developing, the older he got.

More Dakota Trivia

The Dakota also plays a major part in Jack Finney's novel "Time And Again," a beautifully crafted mystery novel set in the 1970s and 1880s.

If you saw "Rosemary's Baby"

rest assured that the interior of the Dakota is a far cry from that which Mia Farrow moved around in. I have seen a few a few of the apartments, ranging from a very large one that Robert Ryan and his wife lived in to a much smaller, but far from cramped one that was Roberta Flack's residence. They ere all quite elegant. I live farther up on Central Park West, so I frequently pass by the Dakota and it is not unusual to see Lennon fans hanging around the entrance. Of course it did not all begin with Lennon, the Dakota was a home to celebrities for a few decades before he and Yoko moved in. A great building that once seemed to stand out of town. I believe that's how it acquired the name—it seemed to be in the sticks.

Film location

Rosemary's Baby.

Living life in peace

This was John Lennon's home in New York, and where he was murdered on the street in 1980. Had he lived, Lennon would have turned 70 tomorrow.

Strawberry Fields Forever

The site of the murder of John Lennon (born on this day in 1940).

Performing Flea.

I don't intend to be a performing flea any more. I was the dreamweaver, but although I'll be around I don't intend to be running at 20,000 miles an hour trying to prove myself. I don't want to die at 40. ~ John Lennon

In Memoriam

T'is sad that the main thing that this building is known for is the tragedy that happened outside.


Happy Birthday, John.

Beautiful Building

A sad way to commemorate tomorrow being John Lennon's 70th birthday. (How is that even possible?)

Happy birthday John!

John Lennon would have been 70 years old today had he not been shot at the Dakota.

Happy birthday John Lennon

That's a grand old building John and Yoko lived in.

Happy Birthday John

John Lennon would have been 70 on Saturday the 9th.
Nice of you to remember Dave. Thanks.

Dakota Trivia

John Lennon, who would have turned 70 on Oct 9th, was murdered outside The Dakota. His widow, Yoko Ono, still lives there. The 1968 film 'Rosemary's Baby' filmed some scenes at The Dakota. It was renamed 'The Bramford' in the movie.

The Dakota Territory

Possibly my very favorite building in all of Manhattan. In the late 70s, when I was a teenager, I would cut school and hang out there with a fellow John Lennon adorer. We met him many times, and he'd let us walk with him to Broadway where he bought his gum and newspapers. We'd also regularly see the other celeb denizens - Paul Simon, Rex Reed, and Lauren Bacall ( Bacall still lives there.)

The night Lennon got shot, we were there within hours, holding a vigil outside with dozens of other people. When I became a horse-drawn carriage driver in the early 80s, it was one of the most requested sites by my customers, as it sits directly facing Central Park at 72nd St. I had a long line of trivia I would tell them about the building, including that it was named "The Dakota" because the owner and builder, Mr. Singer of Singer Sewing Machine Co. fame, was teased by his 5th Ave and downtown friends that his new building was so far away from the chic parts of NYC at the time, that "it might as well have been in the Dakota Territory."

A few things - where the man is standing at the right in the Park (near that wonderful sign that should be reproduced and again posted for today's selfish Handy Andys) is about 20 feet from where the Lennon memorial, Strawberry Fields, is today. The building has not, to my eye, changed even one iota - masonry is still all intact, carriageway is still there, planters and fabulous railing all still there. It has even managed to retain its original windows, a great architectural boon in my opinion, with so many other old lovely buildings having had theirs replaced.

The one difference is that there has been for decades a large, nice, bronze doorman's booth on the left side of the carriageway.

I'm loving the horse-drawn wagon at the back of of the line of cars (taxis?) Kind of a metaphor, as it was 1912 and the horse-drawn vehicle was on its way out. I don't have a magnifying glass - can anyone tell me what it says on the back of the wagon?

Thank you SO much for this pic - I have seen many photos of The Dakota, but never this one, what a treat.

[Below: Stern Brother department store delivery van. - Dave]
Thank you!


When this photo was taken, the Dakota was only 28 years old. Here's nearly the same view today.

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