The Changing Face of the Dakota: John Lennon's New York Home

From the 1880s to the 21st century, follow the changes
that have come to the historic Dakota building over the decades.


John and Yoko in front of the Dakota, November 1980. Yoko Ono still lives in the Dakota.
Photo by Allan Tannenbaum

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DAKOTA

The Dakota was designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh in 1882 and is a New York City landmark (it was given historic status in 1970). Built when the area around West 72nd Street consisted of vacant land and shacks, it has stood proudly as a symbol of wealth and grace for over a century. It has been said that its name came from the idea that the land it was to stand on at that time was “as far away as the Dakotas” from the rest of New York City’s real estate development. The official address of the Dakota is 1 West 72nd Street, New York, New York.

This dramatic luxury building was built around a central courtyard and decorated with turrets, towers, finials, balconies, and gables. Located across from Central Park, the views from the upper floors are spectacular. It also allows residents easy access to the many pleasures (still to be had) in the park. Those who have at one time called the Dakota home (aside from John and Yoko) include Leonard Bernstein, Boris Karloff, Lauren Bacall, Rex Reed, and Roberta Flack.

The Dakota Apartments triggered a gradual improvement of the lower park blocks. Waves of high class residential development radiated from the Dakota's lordly towers after the building opened in 1884. Slowly, lavish townhouses, patrician apartments, and grand houses of worship rose up in the Dakota's shadow.

The photos below illustrate the changes that have come to the Dakota from the 1880s to the present day. I hope you enjoy this photographic history trip.

The Dakota in the 1980s. The name of the luxury apartment building was chosen because when it was built, it was considered to be out in the middle of nowhere, as in being far away like North or South Dakota.


The Dakota in the 1980s. The people are skating in an area below the Dakota that is now Central Park.


The Dakota in the 1960s. By this time, Central Park had been in existance for quite some time and the Dakota stands as a beautiful piece of architecture from New York City's past.


The Dakota in the 1960s. This is a view of the Dakota that most people never get to see. It was taken for a book about the history of the luxury apartment building.


The main entrance of the Dakota in the 1960s during the winter months.


A rooftop view of Central Park taken from the Dakota (in the 1960s).

Ornate buildings like the Dakota are rarely found in western cities like
San Diego or Los Angeles. Such an exclusive address would be coveted by
any successful criminal defense lawyer in New York City. Lawyers may not
be as wealthy as most celebrities, but they still want to live in New
York's most famous apartment building.


PART TWO...COMING SOON!