Today, the Dakota building in New York City is famous for being the last home where John Lennon lived and for being the sight of his horrible murder, but this building has a long and detailed history of paranormal activity. Even Lennon himself, who was open to the paranormal, witnessed a UFO from the window of his apartment and also encountered the apparition of a woman walking down the long halls of the building, who he named the Crying Lady Ghost. Other celebrities and notable figures who have lived in that building have also had very similar experienced. Maury Povich described the building as “very haunted”, for example.
Standing at Central Park West and 72nd Street, the Dakota was built across from Central Park by Edward Clark, who was head of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, between 1880 and 1884. In those days, the Dakota was so far removed from the city that there were no other buildings around it. The architecture was a mix of German Gothic, French Renaissance and English Victorian, with high gables, terracotta features, gargoyles and exotic decor, giving it an imposing appearance even for it’s time. The name “Dakota” in reference to this building first appeared in a 1933 newspaper and came about because of Edward Clark’s interest in the Western territories. The building contains 65 co-op apartments and no two are alike.
|The Dakota in the 1880s from Central Park.|
|The Dakota in 1890.|
The Dakota has had a long history of being haunted, going back to stories from the 1960s, if not earlier. In the 1960s, construction workers reported seeing the apparition of a young man’s body with a young boy’s face. Several years later, reports surfaced of a little girl in turn-of-the-century clothing appeared to painters working in the building as well. This little girl seems to be the most frequently witnessed apparition and is always quite friendly, often smiling at people and approaching them as if to greet them.
Some of the stories I have collected about the Dakota:
The Little Girl – Painters working in the hall saw a girl with long blonde hair and dress of an earlier time bouncing a ball. None of them saw her before and she didn’t fit descriptions of children who lived there or of guests. A woman, waiting for a friend in the foyer, saw the same apparition who walked into what she thought was an adjacent room. Later, she discovered it was a closet and she had seen the “ghost-in-residence” by others who sighted her.
Judy Holliday’s Dakota Apartment – In 1965, after her death, the Smiths bought the apartment. They hired three men to repaint walls and re-varnish woodwork. The workers felt they were being watched. One saw a ghost of a boy of about 10 dressed in a Buster Brown suit, a style of the early 1900s. A musty odor accompanied the apparition. The three saw a ghost that had the body of a male in his 20s and a face of a young child. After the job was done, one of the painters was doing some touch-up work in a large closet. Suddenly, the door slammed and the light went out. He groped his way off the ladder, propped the door open and turned the light back on. He felt something grab his arm and put it against the light bulb.
Third Floor Dakota Apartment – Frederick and Suzanne Weinstein have heard footsteps and other noises in their home. In the dining room, other paranormal phenomena happened. Rugs and chairs slid on their own. One day, when Weinstein was coming home, he saw, through his living room window, a large crystal chandelier, lights aglow, although none had been there. He thought Suzanne had it installed as a surprise. When he went into the living room, there was no chandelier, although bolts for one remained.
Basement in the Dakota – The porter summoned tenant Wilbur Ross to the cellar because a heavy snow shovel flew off the wall and nearly hit him. He showed him garbage that was thrown about, explaining the bags began to move of their own volition. Ross was skeptical until a metal bar flew across the room, landing by his feet. He tried to pick it up, but it was too heavy. Other tenants had similar experiences. An electrician, working in the basement, saw the ghost of a short, long-nosed man with a beard, no mustache, wire-framed glasses and a wig, wearing a frockcoat and high hat. Later, others sighted the same apparition. The description matched that of Edward Clark.
John Lennon – In 1983, Joey Harrow, a musician who lives near to the Dakota Building, claimed he saw John’s ghost in the Dakota entrance doorway, the spot where he’d been shot three years previously. “He was surrounded by an eerie light,” he claimed. At the time of the sighting he was accompanied by a writer called Amanda Moores, who confirmed that she had also seen the ghost. “I wanted to go up and talk to him, but something in the way he looked at me said ‘No’,” she said. John’s ghost had been reported by various other witnesses who claimed it had been haunting the Dakota. Psychic Shawn Robbins said she saw John’s ghost in the building and Yoko Ono herself was reported to have seen John sitting at his white piano. He turned to her and said, “Don’t be afraid. I am still with you.” According to several Spiritualists, John’s spirit lingered on Earth for a short time before a group of spirit Guides helped him to adjust to the ‘other’ world. A person who won’t ‘let go’ after they are dead becomes a ghost who haunts the area of the tragedy. The Guides convinced him to join them in the spirit world and various Mediums began receiving messages from him. Lennon periodically makes visits to the Dakota still.
|Yoko Ono and John Lennon outside of the Dakota.|