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.