Perhaps the earliest known image of the Dakota, while still under construction. The Central Park statue of Daniel Webster, in bronze on a granite pedestal, was sculpted by Thomas Ball and erected in 1876, only four years before work on the Dakota was begun.
Perhaps the earliest known image of the Dakota, while still under construction. The Central Park statue of Daniel Webster, in bronze on a granite pedestal, was sculpted by Thomas Ball and erected in 1876, only four years before work on the Dakota was begun.From a lantern slide, courtesy of Brian Merlis
Perhaps the earliest known image of the Dakota, while still under construction. The Central Park statue of Daniel Webster, in bronze on a granite pedestal, was sculpted by Thomas Ball and erected in 1876, only four years before work on the Dakota was begun.
Edward Clark, about age 60
Prior to 1891 when the Hotel Majestic was begun. The statue of Daniel Webster is still there.
A colored flag would signal that the ice was thick enough to permit skating on the lake. The Dakota dominated the scene.
The west façade of the Dakota circa 1889.
A pencil drawing over a tinted gesso base
A romanticized drawing of the Dakota
The photograph can be dated to about 1910 by the automobiles at the curb, and by the presence of the Langham Apartmentsu2028at 135 Central Parku2028West between 73rd and 74th Streets, which was completed in 1906. The sentry box for the guard has been replaced by a sign that warns visitors that “Any Person Taking Flowers or Leaves or defacing shrubbery in any Portion of the Park will be detained or Arrested and Punished.” The central gable on 72nd Street has now gained another small dormer window, and the south side of the central gable on Central Park West has single one near the top as well.
Pencil drawing of the Dakota entrance by Richard Britell
The Dakota from the northeast with the 1930 Majestic Apartments at 115 Central Park West at the left. At the right is the corner of the 1906 Langham at 135 Central Park West.
Perhaps the earliest known image of the Dakota, while still under construction. The Central Park statue of Daniel Webste
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From a lantern slide, courtesy of Brian Merlis
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See Photos of the Most Famous Apartment Building in the World

Oct 12, 2015

Over the years, it appeared in the pages of TIME as the home of Lauren Bacall, the backdrop of Rosemary's Baby and the tragic scene of John Lennon's killing. When the New York City apartment building the Dakota was built, however, it was a stretch to believe that anything noteworthy might happen in such a place.

"A $1 million apartment house was considered a folly in the 1880s, when Entrepreneur Edward Clark broke ground west of Central Park at 72nd Street. Rich New Yorkers had never favored apartment living. The site was also so far north and west of fashionable society that it was nicknamed the Dakota after the remote Western territory," TIME explained in a 1979 review of a book about the building. "Yet Clark went ahead with his ersatz castle, variously described as German Renaissance and Victorian chateau."

As historian Andrew Alpern explains in his upcoming book The Dakota: A History of the World's Best-Known Apartment Building—from which the images above are drawn—that early doubt was quickly dispelled and the building went on to become one of New York City's most recognizable landmarks.

The Dakota: A History of the World’s Best-Known Apartment Building by Andrew Alpern, published by Princeton Architectural Press, will be available beginning Oct. 13.

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