The Dakota

Posted by in US Ghost Adventures

The Dakota building set the standard for Upper Westside apartment living, built at a time when the upper classes were just becoming familiar with the concept of apartment living.

Located on the northwest corner of Central Park West and 72nd Street across the road from Strawberry Fields, the building was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenburgh, who would go on to design the Plaza Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria. No detail was overlooked in the design and floorplan, which includes up to 16 rooms in some apartments, a highly embellished exterior, and an overall style that defies easy classification. Some called it ‘Chateauesque’ and some ‘German Renaissance.’

Edward Cabot Clark, the founder and CEO of the Singer Manufacturing Company, of sewing machine fame and wealth, was a New York Real estate speculator with a vision for the barren wastelands of the Upper West Side.

The Famous and Infamous Dakota

The Dakota has been home to artists and performers throughout its history. The notoriously choosy Condo Board has refused several well-known residents applying for the right to purchase an apartment in the building. Everyone from Billy Joel, Carly Simon, Gene Simmons, and Dennis Behiel were rejected from purchasing an apartment at The Dakota.

In 2005, Albert Maysles proposed selling an apartment to actors Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith. The board rejected the actor couple. Albert told the New York Times that he was disappointed with the way the building seemed to be changing. He felt the board was losing touch with its artistic roots, which encouraged interesting people to live there. He accused them of only being concerned with those who had the money.

The most famous residents were John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Lennon was murdered on the steps of the Dakota in 1980. It was a cold December night when he was killed in cold blood by Mark David Chapman. Mark was a music fan with mental health issues; he shot John Lennon four times in the shoulder and back. Lennon died almost instantly. The loss was worldwide news and marked another handy marker for a turning point in world history.

Hauntings at The Dakota

New York is a psychically active place, the site of many hauntings and so much human passion and energy that ghosts are perhaps inevitable.

Reports of ghostly activity at the Dakota Apartments began in the 1960s. A construction worker who was working near the apartments stated he saw a figure with the body of a man but the face of a young boy—coinciding with the death of another famous resident, Judy Holliday. The construction workers also felt like they were being closely watched while they worked, or perhaps they were just being too loud. Today, residents claim to have seen a little girl dressed in period clothing waving and smiling from several lower windows.

It is said that the spirit of John Lennon lives on in Dakota apartments to this day. One resident witnessed John Lennon playing the piano right in their apartment. Sometime after the murder, many people claimed to see Lennon leaning against the wall, in his characteristic white flared suit, in the stone archway where he died. One woman said Lennon spoke with her; she claimed he said, “Do not be afraid. I am still here with you”.

Prior to his death, John Lennon himself had reported seeing otherworldly happenings. He claimed to have seen a UFO from one of the windows of the apartment in the Dakota building. It’s said that he also repeatedly met a ghost he called the crying lady ghost. She was believed to be lurking benevolently in the hallways of the older parts of the by-now-extended and modified building.

Regular ghostly occurrences include objects moving around, including large objects such as furniture or rugs. Residents also often report hearing tiny footsteps and odd noises at strange times in their apartments. Frederick Weinstein, a resident, with his wife Suzanna, went on record reporting seeing the lights of a chandelier in his living room from below on the street. To add to the eerieness of the event, Mr. Weinstein did not have a chandelier in his apartment. When he ran into his apartment, the lights were gone. Upon further inspection, he did notice a patched-up set of bolts in the ceiling where a chandelier had once hung.

Haunted New York

The most sinister stories in the Dakota Building or New York come alive on a New York Ghost Tour with US Ghost Adventures. To discover the most haunted locations of the Big Apple, book a New York ghost tour with NY Ghosts!