The Dakota

Location: 1 W 72nd St, New York, NY 10023

A few quirky facts about the building:

  • It has no fire escapes. Mud from Central Park was slathered between the layers of brick flooring to fireproof and soundproof the building.
  • Residents are forbidden to throw away original doors and fireplace mantels. If they want to get rid of them, there is a special storage area.
  • The original owner’s former apartment had sterling silver floors!

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 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. 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 south entrance of the building in 1980. Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, still resides there.

The building is prominently featured in Andrew Piddington's 2006 film “The Killing of John Lennon”, although The Dakota was only used for exterior shots. In Roman Polanski's 1968 film “Rosemary's Baby”, The Dakota building was used for exterior shots of "The Bramford", the apartment building where several of the characters lived.

Although historically home to many creative or artistic people, the Dakota NYC 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: "What's so shocking is that the building is losing its touch with interesting people. More and more, they're 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. Some of the famous residents of the Dakota besides John and Yoko have included: Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, Connie Chung, Rosemary Clooney, Roberta Flack, Judy Garland, Boris Karloff, Joe Namath and Gilda Radner to name but a few.

Constructed between 1880 and 1884, Henry Janeway Hardenbergh's architectural firm was commissioned to create the design for Edward Cabot Clark, head of the Singer Manufacturing Company. (Hardenbergh's firm also designed the Plaza Hotel.) 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 Dakota Apartments 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, the face of a Dakota Indian keeps watch. 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. The Dakota NYC was designated a New York City Landmark in 1969, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The Dakota's facade was renovated in 2015.

To see The Dakota, use the Uptown & Harlem Tour and hop off at Stop 19: Dakota Building.


This page was edited by Steven Thomas