15 crazy facts about one of New York's most exclusive buildings

The most fascinating facts about The Dakota

Stories of ghost sightings
The late-19th-century Dakota building is one of Manhattan's most mysterious and exclusive residences.

Stories of ghost sightings have loomed around the building — located at 72nd Street and Central Park West — for years.

But even more intimidating than its rumors of hauntings is the Gothic-style building's picky co-op board, which has made a sport of rejecting rich and famous applicants.

Here are the 15 most fascinating facts about The Dakota, from past to present.

John Lennon was shot dead in front of The Dakota by a crazed fanOn December 8, 1980, Lennon was assassinated by Mark David Chapman outside The Dakota. He died at Roosevelt Hospital at age 40 after releasing his album "Double Fantasy."

Yoko Ono still lives in The Dakota and says she saw Lennon's ghost thereOno and husband Lennon moved into The Dakota in 1973. Ono stayed in the building after Lennon's death and, according to the New York Post's Page Six, saw her husband's ghost sitting at his white piano. She says he told her, "Don't be afraid. I am still with you."

When he was alive, Lennon told Ono he saw a 'crying lady ghost' in the buildingThe Beatles musician told his wife he had seen the ghost roaming the halls.

The building has no fire escapesArchitect Henry J. Hardenbergh purposely avoided fire escapes by slathering mud from Central Park between the layers of brick flooring to fireproof and soundproof the building.

Tenants are 'forbidden' to throw away original doors and fireplace mantelsIf tenants want to rid apartments of these items, there is a special storage area.

The Dakota, circa 1890.

The original owner's former apartment has sterling-silver floorsSinger Sewing Machine Company founder Edward Clark commissioned The Dakota as a $1 million apartment building for 60 families, including his own. Clark, however, died in 1882, two years before the building was completed.

According to legend, it gets its name from its far-west locationPeople liked to joke that it might as well have been built in the Dakotas.

It has been a magnet for the rich and famous since it opened in 1884The building was reportedly fully rented before it even opened, thanks to a glowing New York Times review. The Steinway family, of Steinway piano fame, was one of The Dakota's first residents. Though he died in 1883, Peter Tchaikovsky is said to have lived there (perhaps he lived in it before its completion). Actress Lauren Bacall owned a nine-room apartment for 53 years that recently sold for $23.5 million.

Other notable residents have included author Harlan Coben, U2's Bono, Rex Reed, Jack Palance, Lillian Gish, Boris Karloff, Rosemary Clooney, Connie Chung, and Maury Povich.

The building had zero vacancies for 45 years after it openedFrom 1884 to 1929, all 65 of The Dakota's apartments — each with a reported four bathrooms, parlor, and servant quarters — remained spoken for.

Interior courtyards, a 24-hour white-glove doorman, and spacious apartments are only a few of the luxuries enjoyed by Dakota residents.

The current application process is insaneHopefuls must submit years of financial statements and tax documents, go through a background check, and pay a fee of over $1,000. After applicants complete the rigorous application process, the co-op board can still deny them.

Back in 2011, the co-op board was accused of bias and faced a defamation and racial-discrimination lawsuit by a former board member who lived in The Dakota.

Celebrities don't get special treatmentNotable celebrities who have been rejected by The Dakota co-op board include Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, Cher, Billy Joel, Madonna, Carly Simon, Alex Rodriguez, Judd Apatow, and Tea Leoni.

One particularly odd 10-room apartment has been for sale for 8 years Apartment 26 has been on and off the market for the past eight years, dropping from a $19.5 million asking price to a recent price of $14.5 million.

It's rumored that $30,000 is buried under the floor of Lennon and Ono's apartmentAccording to author Stephen Birmingham's 1996 book, "Life at the Dakota," the previous resident of John and Yoko's apartment hid the money under the master-bedroom floor. Whether that's true will remain a question, as the board refuses to destroy the floor to solve the mystery.

Its boilers could heat every structure in a 4-block radiusThe Dakota has an in-house power plant, so its residents will never have to shiver.

Leonard Bernstein's former apartment was the building's most expensive saleLocated on the second floor, the four-bedroom, four-bathroom apartment had a library, a formal dining room, a wood fireplace, kitchen and breakfast areas, and views of Central park. It was listed at $25.5 million and sold for $21 million.


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