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Life at the Dakota: New York's Most…

Life at the Dakota: New York's Most Unusual Address (1979)

by Stephen Birmingham

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It took four years to build from `1880-1884, it was, and still is a monument to New York City's image of love and care of older structures. It continues to be the home of many famous people. Most people heard of this building because John Lennon, and Yoko Ono lived there, and John was shot at the front of the building.

It was interesting to learn of the building, but I thought the book tended to drag for too many pages.
  Whisper1 | Sep 14, 2017 |
New York's most unusual address
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
This was an entertaining social history of the Dakota apartment building in New York. The early parts of the book discusses the early history of the building, its first tenants, & its place in the history of the city & this is where the book is at its most interesting. Who knew that early apartment buildings & hotels were frowned upon because they were so much like the tenements of the day?

The last bit of the book is a bit gossipy, but that's also delicious in its own way, although somewhat disconcerting after the earlier historical writing. There are some cool photographs, as well, but I would've liked to have seen more photos of the interior of the building - maybe not the insides of people's apartments, but surely there's a picture of the lobby somewhere!

I love the notion of this building going up on the west side of Central Park & being called the Dakota because at the time it was so far out west. Its original budget was a million dollars & it took four years to build - from 1880 to 1884.

This, of course, is where John Lennon lived & where he was shot. The exterior of the building has been used in a couple of movies, Rosemary's Baby most notably, but they don't allow filming inside.

This is an enjoyable, if not terribly scholarly, book. ( )
1 vote kraaivrouw | Oct 19, 2009 |
Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of the Dakota. Since then, I see it everywhere! I wonder how I remained ignorant of it so long. The building is architecturally fascinating and its inhabitants not one scintilla less so. It's not great, but it's a good, gossipy page-turner. ( )
1 vote AlexTheHunn | Aug 14, 2007 |
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A riveting history of Manhattan's most eccentric and storied apartment building and the famous tenants who called it home When Singer sewing machine tycoon Edward Clark built a luxury apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side in the late 1800s, it was derisively dubbed "the Dakota" for being as far from the center of the downtown action as its namesake territory on the nation's western frontier. Despite its remote location, the quirky German Renaissance-style castle, with its intricate fa?de, peculiar interior design, and gargoyle guardians peering down on Central Park, was an immediate hit, particularly among the city's well-heeled intellectuals and artists. Over the next century it would become home to an eclectic cast of celebrity residents-including Boris Karloff, Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, singer Roberta Flack (the Dakota's first African-American resident), and John Lennon and Yoko Ono-who were charmed by its labyrinthine interior and secret passageways, its mysterious past, and its ghosts. Stephen Birmingham, author of the New York society classic "Our Crowd", has written an engrossing history of the first hundred years of one of the most storied residential addresses in Manhattan and the legendary lives lived within its walls.… (more)

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