The Ghosts of the Dakota Building in New York

New York City is a fascinating place, brimming with culture and diversity. It’s safe to say that the Dakota Building haunting may be especially interesting to horror movie fans. Especially those of you who’ve seen Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968), starring Mia Farrow and John Cassevetes.

I ask you. Does this building look familiar?

The Dakota Building

CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

If you recall from the movie, these apartments were huge with hardwood floors and grand windows. Without the carpet, though, the wood floors made them a bit noisy. So much so, that nosy neighbors like the Castavets next door could be heard through the walls. Remember Minnie Castavets with her weird health shakes and stinky herbal sachets, like this:

Of course, nosy neighbors may not plague you if you ever decide to live there. It’s not every day that you’re the target of a secret conspiracy setting you up to have the devil’s baby, nor are your neighbors lesbian witches. But! The ghosts that haunt the Dakota Building could give you a very good reason to pause before signing one of the Dakota’s leases.

Why All the Ghosts?

As portrayed in the movie script, there has been a lot of misfortune in the building–except, I’m talking for real in the actual building, not in the fictitious version of the building the movie is talking about.  It’s not surprising that a lot has happened at the Dakota, because this is New York. Not a dull place. There’s a lot of life being lived by a lot of people all around you there. All those millions of New Yorkers have to die somewhere and the Dakota Building has had its own share of deaths, many of them involving famous people.

Okay, let’s talk about the next logical subject…

The Dakota Building’s Ghosts

Probably the most famous resident to lose his life at the Dakota was the legendary John Lennon of the Beatles. On December 8, 1980, the musician was gunned down under the arches in front of the building and a few feet from his wife, Yoko Ono. His killer lurked for hours that day, waiting outside the building for John to get home. When he did, the killer acquired John’s autograph and a few moments later, shot John five times from behind. John barely made it to the hospital before dying of major wounds to the arteries affecting his heart.

John Lennon Death

Artist’s rendering of John Lennon’s Death
By New York City Police Department – Wikimedia Commons

After that, folks began seeing “John” on occasion, including Yoko, who reported seeing him sitting at his piano, comforting her that he was still with her. Afterward uttering his reassurances, he vanished.  Another time, he was spotted by someone else, standing outside the entrance of the Dakota.

Besides Lennon, there were other high profile deaths there.  Back in 1976, Jo Mielzner died in the street outside the building. He was in a cab and had a heart attack in the back seat.  Jo was an accomplished Broadway set designer, famous for the sets for many popular plays, like Death of a Salesman.

In regards to ghosts, apparently one of the managers of the building still lives there. They call her The Crying Lady.  Her son died outside the building when a truck on the street hit him. In life, this lady was known to be a believer in the paranormal, but has been seen roaming the building, presumably crying, as per her name.

Edward Clark who built The Dakota

Edward Clark Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The builder of the Dakota was Edward Clark, another ghost in the building. Clark owned Singer Sewing Machine Company and had the Dakota built, but died in 1882, before the building was complete in 1884.  He is said to haunt the building and has been known to rush about, looking anxious and impatient.

One of the more recent residents has reported being tripped by a rug that inexplicably gets in the way, even after stepping over it. The spirit could possibly be the one responsible for making all the noise. It’s been heard pacing furiously in the dining room, its disembodied footsteps a noisy sign of its presence. The man living there has also seen a crystal chandelier through the street-facing window, but in actual fact, there is no chandelier in their home.

Another ghost is that of a girl in a yellow dress who’s made herself known to workers in the building. She cheerfully told the men it was her birthday, then headed down the hall and disappeared. She’s become known by the red ball she plays with. It can be seen bouncing down the halls of the apartment building.

The basement is the home of what they call “The Phantom of the Dakota” also known as the “Mad Slasher.” Objects have been thrown violently about, and people have witnessed large gashes in walls. After he walls were repaired, the gashes would reappear.

Besides the above, there actually could be more ghosts living at the Dakota Apartments, but those are some of the most sighted or most famous.

TV Shows

When I learned of the hauntings at the Dakota Building, my initial question was whether this was the same building used in the show 666 Park Avenue.

Some of you may know that 666 Park Avenue was a 2012 TV show that ran for 13 episodes and plays on Netflix.  It was one of my binge-watching favorites, although I didn’t get to the end of the series before cancelling Netflix.  It’s a great show, at least to start out, so I highly recommend it if you can find it.

Anyway, with all that said, the Dakota Building is not THAT building. The build in 666 Park Avenue is the Ansonia, also in New York, but known on the show as “The Drake.”

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