The Dakota almost alone on the Upper West Side

Completed in 1884, the Dakota might be the most famous (and most visually spectacular apartment) house in New York City.

It’s even more incredible when you see it standing alone with the trees of Central Park in the distance—at a time when the “West End,” as the Upper West Side was called in the 1880s, was being parceled out for development.

Only a lovely row of townhouses a block over hint at what this part of Manhattan would soon become.

Photo: Office for Metropolitan History via The New Republic, which ran a thorough overview of the building’s early history a few years ago.

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19 Responses to “The Dakota almost alone on the Upper West Side”

  1. keenanpatrick424 Says:

    Great photo! Is it from NEW YORK:AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY ?

  2. The Dakota once stood alone on Central Park West | Real Estate Marketplace Says:

    […] Source: FS – NYC Real Estate The Dakota once stood alone on Central Park West […]

  3. Jim Says:

    Any idea what the two machines (with smokestacks) in the foreground would have been used for?

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I have no idea, but if anyone does I’d love to know too.

      • Bob Says:

        They look to me like air compressors used to power tools that would be used to drill and remove the rock obstructing the building site.

  4. Mar Says:

    Love this side view of the Dakota. So many changes happened on Manhattan so fast! Still do. What is the ofgicial name of the building?

  5. petey Says:

    i’m always gobsmacked when i see pictures of when manhattan was unbuilt like that – some from much more recently!

  6. Andrew Porter Says:

    My building in Brooklyn was built the same year, but, alas, it was gut renovated in the late 1930s, during which they removed the cornice and rounded windows, took the fireplaces out of all the apartments, and made it the nondescript place it is now.


  7. Tom B Says:

    Did they have to clear out anybody/building to construct this apartment building? Are Mansard roofs still being built anywhere?

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I wish mansard roofs were back in fashion! They don’t look right on the glass-box buildings that are going up all over the city, though…

      The Upper West Side when the Dakota was being built was a sparsely populated collection of villas and small villages. I’m sure they had to clear out some shanties and small homes. Here’s a photo of West 72nd Street then:

      • Tom B Says:

        So this could be the first gentrification of NYC. LOL

      • David H Lippman Says:

        That is accurate…there was nothing out by the “Dakota,” hence the name.

        Some work was done on its southeast corner for a snappier entrance to the 8th Avenue subway when it was built in the 1930s.

        It was the home of many famous people, the most lustrous of which we all know as being John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

  8. kc Says:

    Unfortunate that the building immediately to the west of the Dakota is such an eyesore today,-73.9774963,3a,75y,75.9h,119.85t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1s3dTiNLUk5U_8XU0u-RwOJw!2e0!

  9. The most dazzling luxury apartment ads of 1935 | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] shine on Central Park West, its two towers as impressive as other iconic West Side buildings like the Dakota and the San […]

  10. The amazing survival story of the last 3 single-family row houses on Central Park West | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] story begins with the Dakota. When this Gothic-inspired apartment building was completed in 1884, Gilded Age real estate […]

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