The History of One Famous House: The Dakota. The Place Where Politicians and Celebrities Stay

12:24 pm  |  28.05.2021

From time to time, someone monitors the high-end real estate market of different cities in case he suddenly has a lot of money. Is there an urgent need to choose a dream apartment in New York or Rome?


We’re talking about the famous “Dakota” house. One of the bright representatives who were fortunate to live in this house was John Lennon, and it was on the doorstep of «Dakota» that he was shot.

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In the 1880s, a number of businessmen decided to build an elite country house where they could take a break from the urban noise. Prior to this, wealthy Manhattans preferred to live in separate villas and the idea of combining many expensive apartments under one roof was new. It was a revolution in architecture.

The excitement around Dakota began before the house was put into service, and all apartments were sold or rented long before construction was completed. 

Among the millionaire initiators of the building was the sewing king, the owner of “Singer” Edward Clarke, who commissioned the project to the architect Henry Hunderberg. Unfortunately, the customer did not have time to enjoy life in this house because he died before the house was built. His grandson inherited the residence.

A big fan of French architecture, unlimited in resources – Handerberg has unleashed a fantasy. The exterior decoration of the house is astonishing with its artsy, luxurious, and picturesque details. The house is built of light yellow brick with a dark brownstone finish, wall thickness – 40 cm, each of eight floors – twice as high as the floors of the modern house. In apartments – fireplaces with marble lining, oak ceilings, copper fittings. Plus a delightful view of the park of giant arrow-shaped French windows.

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“Dakota” was equipped with the most advanced technology, at the services of residents – its own kitchen with a chef and waiters who are ready to deliver food to the apartment, swimming pool, court, croquet court, comfortable lifts, a closed courtyard at any moment. horse yard. The house had its own electric generator as well as central heating.

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The address of the Dakota complex is at the corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West. In total, the building has ten floors, the ceilings in the apartments are four meters high, the maximum footage is 300 sq. m.

At first, there were 65 apartments in Dakota, with service personnel living on the 8th and 9th floors. After the Second World War, the servants were evicted, and the vacated premises were converted into housing for “ordinary” people. There are now 130 apartments in Dakota.

Here are some facts collected in more than 130 years of the famous residence:

  • The complex was named after the Dakota tribe because it was built on land belonging to that tribe.
  • There is no fire escape in the Dakota residence. The idea that metal stairs would hang on the facade of the building seemed unpleasant to the architect, and he abandoned them altogether. And to make the building fire-resistant, he picked up dirt in Central Park, and he missed it in the gaps between the bricks that made the building. Obviously, there was a lot of dirt in the park then, so you won’t find it this afternoon with fire.
  • A grey sandstone has gone to the finish of the window and door openings, forged iron ornaments are built around the perimeter of the house, and the entire seventh floor is surrounded by a solid balcony.
  • The owners of apartments do not have the right to change the front doors and chimneys at their own discretion, with which design the house was born. If you really want to change them to modern ones, you have to ask the housing committee for official permission. If the answer is yes, the old doors are not thrown out but stored in a special warehouse in the house.
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Lauren Bacall, 1969

  • The owner of the house, Edward Clarke, wanted the floor to be made of real silver. This silver luxury was used by Edward Clark’s grandson, who inherited Dakota after his grandfather’s death.
  • From the very first days of its existence, Dakota has been a real magnet for the rich of Manhattan. For example, one of the first residents of the complex was the Steinway family, a world-renowned piano and piano manufacturer.
  • The rumor that Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky lived there is still going on in New York. The rumor is false, Tchaikovsky was not there.
  • Actress Lauren Bacall lived in Dakota for 53 years, and her nine-room apartments were sold after her death for $23.5 million. She has appeared in many films, most notably “The East Express Murder”, “Dogville” and “How to Marry a Millionaire”.
  • Other celebrities living or living in Dakota include U-2 soloist Bono, Rudolf Nuriev, American composer Leonard Bernstein, film actor Boris Karloff, John Lennon, American actress Judy Garland, and Bill Clinton as a member of the so-called board of the house.

In the first 45 years of existence of the apartment complex, from 1884 to 1929, there were no vacancies in it, absolutely all apartments were occupied. Each of them had at least four bathrooms, a dining room with a living room, an office, and a room for servants.

John and Yoko in their apartment, 1980

  • To apply for accommodation in the vacated apartments, you have to pay $1,000 for this application alone, no one will discuss a potential tenant for free. Even if the application is rejected, the money is not returned.
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