Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Haunted Manhattan: The Dakota Building

Located on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West in New York City, The Dakota Building is a well-fixed image of the Manhattan landscape. It is ingrained in our minds as the place where John Lennon exhaled his last breath. However, the building has a very long, haunting past that goes back to the very beginnings of the city. 

It was commissioned in 1881 by Edward Clark, head of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Its architecture has a bit of German Gothic, a lot of French Renaissance, and of course, a whiff of English Victorian. As the story goes, back in 1884 when the building opened its doors as an apartment co-op, the Upper West Side of Manhattan was as sparsely populated as the Dakota Territories, hence the name. In 1976, it was declared a National Historical Landmark.

The first reports of strangely apparitions came from a troop of painters in the 1960s and since then two main figures have been consistently seen in the premises. The first, and gentler spirit, is that of a girl dressed in turn of the century garb. She's usually smiling or playing with a rubber ball, then she disappears into thin air or walks into closed closets to never be seen again.

The second, and more violent apparition, is that of Mr. Clark himself. One of the porters reported being attacked by this ghost on the building's basement. He was thrown a shovel and several heavy objects. When the terrified man called a tenant for help, a piece of metal flew into the air toward the men.

There have been reports of a ghostly chandelier alight in one of the third floor apartments, and a worker was trapped inside a closet while doing reparations to Judy Holliday's appartment. When he found his way off the ladder he had been using, he tried to turn on the light. No luck there, so he went for the closet door... and felt a cold hand grabbing his arm. I'll go out on a limb here and say he never set foot inside the building again.

Then of course, is the story of John Lennon. I must confess that after all my wanderings about, of all the supposedly real ghost pictures I've seen, the one picture that makes me break in goosebumps doesn't even have a supernatural element to it. It is this picture, where Lennon is giving an autograph to Mark David Chapman mere hours before the crazy bastard shot Lennon at the entrance of the building. Seriously creepy...

John Lennon's ghost has been reported, too, despite the fact that a group of spiritualists tried guiding his soul to rest in peace at Yoko's request.

Finally, there are the many twisted coincidences that surround the filming of Rosemary's Baby. The film, directed by Roman Polanski, used the exteriors of the Dakota as well as limited interior locations. After its release in 1968, Krzysztof Komeda, who had worked on the movie soundtrack, died of a brain clot. The same way a supporting character died within the movie. Also, at the exact same time, William Castle, the movie producer, was admitted to the same hospital for renal problems. While being treated he yelled "Rosemary, for God's sake drop that knife!" Afterwards he would swear the movie was curse.

But for all the possible spooky coincidences, here's a truly mind-boggling one: Roman Polanski (married to Sharon Tate) shot Rosemary's Baby (A story about a pregnant woman besieged by a satanic cult) in the Dakota building. A few months after the movie's release, Charles Manson and his cult followers broke into Sharon Tate's house and murdered five people two weeks before her due date. They followed this heinous act with the murder of two more people, the following night. They called this rampage "Helter Skelter" after a The Beatles song. John Lennon was a member of The Beatles that would come to live at the Dakota several years later, where he would be murdered by Mark David Chapman.


Yolanda Renee said...

So awesomely creepy! But really enjoyed learning the back story.

FYI: I just recently read this regarding Rosemary's Baby written by Anton LeVay - the founder of the Church of Satan.

"One of the unanswered questions about the book and film “Rosemary’s Baby” is why the girl who was originally living with the elderly couple met her untimely death on the pavement outside the building—whether she fell, jumped, or was pushed.

To the Satanist, the reason is quite obvious. The girl in question had been established in the story as a “loser.” Satan, in selecting a suitable choice of woman to impregnate, would want no such woman to carry his own child, but would look for one with some enthusiasm for life. No one had to push the girl out of the window. She was destined to lose, by her own actions. Her own accident-proneness caused her destruction, prompted by the very fear of the unknown which she evidenced."

Again creepy!

Georgina Morales said...

And just when you think things can't get any spookier... Thanks for that, Yolanda! Anton LaVey has always intrigued me. What a character. One of those cases where reality is so much more baffling than fiction. :)

Nicole said...

And the creepiness just keeps compounding! Yikes!

Mina Lobo said...

Dude, that's a LOT of creepy coincidences! Once I read your explanation about the Lennon picture, I felt a bit chilled as well...

Poor Sharon Tate, and her poor baby and guests. What a nightmare.
Some Dark Romantic

Chris Fries said...

Hey Gina! Long time, no comment! Sorry about my absence from blogging.

Anyway -- yes, very creepy!

But also consider this chain of connectedness:

-- This hotel was called the Dakota
-- Dakota is also the first name of actress Dakota Fanning
-- Dakota Fanning starred in "The War of the Worlds" in 2005
-- "The War of the Worlds" was originally written by HG Wells in 1898
-- The 1979 movie "Time After Time" featured Malcolm MacDowell portraying HG Wells traveling through time to pursue Jack the Ripper.
-- "Time After Time" is also the name of a classic 1984 song by Cyndi Lauper.
-- Cyndi Lauper also performed "Strawberry Fields" on 11/12/2010 as part of a tribute to...

John Lennon!

Coincidence??? Perhaps not... ;)

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

Here from Alex's blog and glad I came. Your post was interesting and creepy too.
It's amazing what we find when we open our eyes and look around. I didn't know about the Lennon piece. That's a very, very strange coincidence indeed. Enjoyed your post, thanks for sharing. I like your blog and am now a follower.

Lexa Cain said...

OMG - those are great stories, especially the last part. That is a FREAKY coincidence about the connection between "Rosemary's Baby" and the Manson murders. Great post! :-)

Anonymous said...

How about this for an extra co-inkie-dink involving those in the building's shadows? The buildup to Chapman's heinous murder of Lennon is dramatized in the film Chapter 27 (2007) starring Jared Leto & Lindsey Lohan.
Lohan starred in the 2003 remake of Freaky Friday.
And who starred in the original 1977 film? The trigger, in Chapman's mind, for Lennon's murder: Jodie Foster.
And where is the entire Freaky Friday story set in the novel? Specifically, the building right across the street from the Dakota. Annabelle even talks about the difficulty of growing up in its famous shadow.

Georgina Morales said...

Holy! That's an awesome chain of coincidences right there! What do you know, the story just got a whole lot creepier. Thanks for sharing!

Liz Santiago said...

Someone was talking to me about this the other day. And I can recall this as if it happened last night! It was December 8, 1980, I thought I would be out Christmas shopping with my husband. But, I was home in bed with the flu! I had taken as much cold medicine as my body could take and I went to sleep. I was in this fitful sleep, it was cold and I was floating in front of the ominous looking building I had never seen before. I saw this man and woman exit a car. And another man whose energy was to harm the man from the car. I screamed no don't listen to him, get back in the car! I screamed lady make him get back in the car! You can feel he does not mean what he is saying, PLEASE, GET BACK IN THE CAR! But still I'm floating behind them not able to stop what is about to happen,no one can hear me. Then all of a sudden I can hear a woman screaming, I taste blood, I look up and I see these gargoyles on top of the building! I feel my life draining from us, it's getting colder and it's dark. I'm asking myself where am I? Why am I not in front going into the building? Why am I not inside were it is warm? Why is my wife not here? Then I wake up, i'm in my bed my husband is sleep beside. I still have to go to work because I have no sick days left for the year. If I use the days I have I won't be able to take time off for the Christmas Holiday. I leave my husband a note telling him about the dream. That I know he would surely think is crazy like he always does. And besides, John Lennon, was never my favorite Beatles. When, I got to work I told my best friend at work the dream and she burst out crying and said that did happened, John Lennon, is DEAD! She said, I always believe your dreams because they have been true about things you have said about me! I was rocked to my core, she took me to our medical department. They gave me a Valium and said I could go home, but I would loose a day from my vacation. I worked that day in daze. I never tell people of this dream, because they won't believe me, but I don't care. But, the people who know me and have listened to my dreams and visions do! I have no website or agenda, but there are things of this WORLD that we can not UNDERSTAND with our NATURAL MINDS!

Liz Santiago said...

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Liz Santiago said...

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