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131-Year History of the Iconic Dakota Chronicled in New Book

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When the Upper West Side's storied co-op The Dakota was built in 1884, it was just an apartment building on the far reaches of town. It was—believe it or not—built as housing for the aspirational upper middle class, as opposed to the monied elite who are welcomed in (or barred) by the building's notoriously fussy co-op board these days. At the time, before it converted into a co-op in the 1960s, rents ranged from $1,000 to $5,600 a year (or roughly, Bloomberg says, $24,000 today.) In his new book The Dakota: A History of the World's Best-Known Apartment Building (h/t Bloomberg), author Andrew Alpern digs deep into the legendary building's past and its rise in status to become one of the city's, or as the book's title suggests, the world's, most well-known apartments buildings.

More coverage of The Dakota
Truly Bizarre Dakota Pad Won't Give Up, Returns For $14.5M
These Scathing Reviews Decimate 7 of NYC's 'Best' Buildings
First Look Inside Lauren Bacall's Dakota Apartment of 53 Years

"In a sense," Bloomberg writes, "the Dakota's history as told through Alpern's book is the same story as New York's." They elaborate:

When it was built, much of upper Manhattan was still farmland. Accordingly, Alpern includes an 1881 clipping from the Real Estate Record and Builder's Guide, which deems the promise of the future apartment building 'a marvelous change on the West Side.' Just four years later, as the first residential apartment boom was under way, Alpern includes a triumphant 1885 article from the same publication that calls the Dakota 'one of the noblest apartment houses of the world.' By 1932, three years after the stock market crash and three decades after the novelty of elevators had worn off for most city residents, a piece from the New Yorker refers to the Dakota merely as a 'solid, commodious, respectable building.' Thirty years after that, as similar buildings were being torn down across New York, there's a clip from House & Garden magazine that calls it 'the famous septuagenarian chateau on Central Park West.'

As the city grew around the Dakota, its once relatively arbitrary parkside location became one of its main draws. (Although the origins of the building's name are unknown, it's suggested that it's so named because it was so far west and north in Manhattan, like Dakota territory.) Ambitious bohemians flocked to the building in droves, which manifested in famous tenants like John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, and later, Roberta Flack. The building gained international recognition when Lennon was infamously gunned down under its archway on December 8, 1980.

These days, apartments in the building regularly sell in the eight digits. Lauren Bacall's nine-room apartment of 53 years sold less than a month ago for $23.5 million. Another of the building's apartments has been on the market for nearly a decade seeking $14.5 million. The least expensive apartment in the building is a tight two-bedroom, two-bathroom pad seeking $3.6 million. By the Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation counter, that $3.6 million ask whittles down to just $149,348 1913 dollars, likely an insurmountable sum to the building's erstwhile occupants. The times, within the walls of The Dakota and in New York City at large, sure have changed.
· A New Look Inside the Most Extravagant Apartment Building in New York [Bloomberg]
· The Dakota: A History of the World's Best-Known Apartment Building [Amazon]
· First Look Inside Lauren Bacall's Dakota Apartment of 53 Years [Curbed]
· Buyer Sues After Being Barred From Dakota Pad For 16 Years [Curbed]
· All coverage of The Dakota [Curbed]

The Dakota

629 U.S. 190, , LA 70433 Visit Website