The Upper West Side Gold Coast: “History and Mystery Behind The Dakota” By: Chelsea Laverack

           On my tour of Central Park West on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in late May, the calm atmosphere and carefree attitudes of the residents and tourists of the area interested and amazed me.  Everyone that passed was merrily on their way to a picnic in a park, enjoying an afternoon walk with a loved one or friend, indulging in an ice cream cone, or merely sitting on a park bench soaking up the first summer-like day of the season. However, although my entire tour of Central Park West filled me with a sense of love for the city and eagerness to settle in this area, my interest and awe of the famous “Dakota” residence is something that I believe everyone should experience and visit while in Manhattan.

            The Dakota is located on 72nd street and Central Park West. Although there were very few tourists in this neighborhood, the area surrounding the Dakota was filled with people taking pictures and remembering the tragic event that took place right at the entrance in 1980. The assassination of John Lennon has made the building infamous and is still a tourist attraction where people pay their respects to “Strawberry Field” and remember Lennon for his talent and inspiring words and outlook.

            The building itself has just undergone a refurbishing process and the stonework and entranceway are newly buffed. The once dark and gloomy looking building now fits in with the historic and beautiful architecture of the surrounding buildings in the area such as “The San Remo” and “The Historical Society.”

            There are many reasons why this building is an interesting addition to “The Gold Coast.” After my walking tour, I came to realize that there is a true appreciation in the area for the arts and sciences. All of the buildings seemed filled with history and beauty. The thought of how many famous artists, historians, scientists and philosophers have once lived and still reside in the buildings of Central Park West is astounding. “The Dakota” carries with it a love of art and a strong belief in the preservation of history. Nevertheless, what is also interesting about this particular building is the conflicting idea that there are still people in the world who wish to destroy this so called “idealized fantasy of art, discovery and peace.” It is worth visiting this part of the city not only to admire the traditional and historical architecture of the building, but also to ponder the consequences and implications associated with the assassination that occurred in such a beautiful and serene setting.


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