Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: Life at the Dakota: New York's Most Unusual Address

Life at the Dakota: New York's Most Unusual Address Life at the Dakota: New York's Most Unusual Address by Stephen Birmingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Life at the Dakota is a strange, unconventional and often times wonderful place. It's exclusivity doesn't allow many people to see these sides of it, but in Life at the Dakota: New York's Most Unusual Address, Stephen Birmingham gives everyone a glimpse at the luxury life that was originally referred to as Clark's Folly.

This book does a good job at covering the history of Edward Clark, the building's founder, as well as the building itself. And along with that, you can't forget to include some history of New York itself and New York high society, including both inherited wealth as well as the nouveau riche. You get the inside scoop about the good and the bad side of tenants, from in-fighting, bigotry and wild parties to completely renovating the history out of certain apartments. The place also has plenty of ghosts to keep residents and readers busy.

What you won't discover in this book is anything to do with modern-day living in the Dakota. I didn't realize that this was not a comprehensive history of the building until about halfway through the book, when you realize some of the living tenants the author interviewed are long gone. The book was actually published in 1979, so more modern events (including John Lennon's death) are not addressed in the book. Some versions apparently have an additional afterward, but my copy did not. If you want to know what's going on there these days, the one-bedroom #97 is available for a cool $1.69 million (not that I've been looking or anything...).

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