The Dakota Apartments

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The Dakota Apartments, New York.

John Lennon YokoOnoToday probably most people who have heard about the Dakota Building know it because it was the place where John Lennon lived – and died.

John and Yoko moved there in 1973 and he was gunned down at the entrance to the building in 1980. But the building was well-known a long time before that.

It’s true that the Dakota was and is a rather spooky looking building.  That’s probably why Ira Levin set his book Rosemary’s Baby there.

The building was constructed in the 1880s. It originally had only sixty five apartments but had croquet lawns, tennis courts, a playroom for children and its own electrical generator. Apartment there can cost up to $30 million.

In Rosemary’s Baby, she and her husband Guy have to undergo the rigmarole of being accepted as owners. (In the book, it was referred to as ‘The Bramford’).  They were accepted and approved. But in reality, several well-known people were denied ownership. There were plenty of famous people who lived there though, including:

  • Lauren Bacall
  • Roberta Flack
  • Rosemary Clooney
  • Rudolph Nureyev
  • Judy Garland
  • Boris Karloff
  • Leonard Bernstein

Actor Robert Ryan had occupied the Lennon’s property and they believed that his wife, who died in the apartment, haunted the place. They held an exorcism. And there have been many reports by residents and workers of ghostly figures. So there certainly were some spooky tales in addition to those invented by Ira Levin in Rosemary’s Baby.

The Dakota’s developer, Edward Clark, was determined that it should be the most opulent accommodation in the city. Boris Karloff was the first actor to move into the building – that was in 1930. It’s amusing to note that other residents were concerned, believing that an actor ‘lowered the tone’ of the property.

Newspapers reported in 1980, about six months before Lennon was shot, that singer Billy Joel had been refused when he applied to live in the building. Residents said that they feared he would attract ‘groupies’ and they also disapproved of him because he had publicly admitted drug use. They said that they had had enough of singers, musicians and movie stars because of the fans.

Would you like to live in the Dakota?

At the end of 2014, it was reported that Lauren Bacall’s apartment was for sale. To save you the bother of calling her realtor, here are the details.

You can snap up the property for a mere $26,000,000. For that, you get 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. Bacall had evidently occupied the apartment since 1961 when she picked it up the for chickenfeed sum of $48,000.  At $11,146, the monthly maintenance fee was reported as being ‘reasonable’.



Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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1 Comment

  1. I had no idea that Yoko Ono was that old. My mother was born in 1931 so only a couple of years older than Yoko. I’ll have to tell her that the next time I see her!

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