A history of the Manhattan building and its famous tenants, from Lauren Bacall to John Lennon, by the New York Timesâ€“bestselling author of â€śOur Crowdâ€ť.
When Singer sewing machine tycoon Edward Clark built a luxury apartment building on Manhattanâ€™s Upper West Side in the late 1800s, it was derisively dubbed â€śthe Dakotaâ€ť for being as far from the center of the downtown action as its namesake territory on the nationâ€™s western frontier. Despite its remote location, the quirky German Renaissanceâ€“style castle, with its intricate faĂ§ade, peculiar interior design, and gargoyle guardians peering down on Central Park, was an immediate hit, particularly among the cityâ€™s well-heeled intellectuals and artists.
Over the next century it would become home to an eclectic cast of celebrity residentsâ€”including Boris Karloff, Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, singer Roberta Flack (the Dakotaâ€™s first African-American resident), and John Lennon and Yoko Onoâ€”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 â€śOur Crowdâ€ť, 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.