Life at the Dakota

New York's Most Unusual Address
Narrated by: LJ Ganser
Length: 9 hrs and 15 mins
4 out of 5 stars (88 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A history of the Manhattan building and its famous tenants, from Lauren Bacall to John Lennon, by the New York Times best-selling author of Our Crowd.  

When Singer sewing machine tycoon Edward Clark built a luxury apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the late 1800s, it was derisively dubbed “the Dakota” for being as far from the center of the downtown action as its namesake territory on the nation’s western frontier. Despite its remote location, the quirky German Renaissance-style castle, with its intricate façade, peculiar interior design, and gargoyle guardians peering down on Central Park, was an immediate hit, particularly among the city’s well-heeled intellectuals and artists.   

Over the next century it would become home to an eclectic cast of celebrity residents - including Boris Karloff, Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, singer Roberta Flack (the Dakota’s first African-American resident), and John Lennon and Yoko Ono - who were charmed by its labyrinthine interior and secret passageways, its mysterious past, and its ghosts. Stephen Birmingham, author of the New York society classic Our Crowd, has written an engrossing history of the first hundred years of one of the most storied residential addresses in Manhattan and the legendary lives lived within its walls.

©1979 Stephen Birmingham (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Life at the Dakota

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

AN ABSOLUTE MUST FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY NYC TRIVIA

I expected this book to be strictly about The Dakota's residents. While that was a significant portion of this work, it was far from the only interesting part.

The writer starts with an intriguing explanation of the life and times of NYC when an idea of The Dakota was not yet conceived. A thorough account of the originators' personalities and lifestyles help the listener to understand how this NY landmark came to be and why.

This building has an amazing history!

Bottom line - this story was far more spell binding than I ever anticipated.

FYI - this publication is from 1979. That means there are 40 more years of subsequent stories to be regaled!

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Written 40 years ago

Interesting history of an iconic NYC building and it’s inhabitants from conception until the late 70s. Unfortunately, it ends just a couple of years before the Lennon assassination, an event most closely associated with the building by modern readers.

15 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Travel back in time with this audiobook

Absolutely loved this book. The stories are so fascinating and detailed. The research this author did is astounding. The writing style is brilliant. I felt like I was right inside the fascinating history of this building and the evolving city of New York. I also loved the narrator. He’s such an entertaining reader I’m going to check out other audiobooks he’s read.

5 people found this helpful

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Fascinating Story - Social and Dwelling History

I lived a few blocks from this building in N.Y. and remember the night John Lennon was shot. I walked by this building almost every day and could not even remember what it looked like when I bought this book. An in-depth look into the early history of N.Y. dwellings and viewpoints of the neighborhoods. If you are involved with Real Estate at all this will be a very interesting book for you. If you enjoy stories about real people you will take a lot of pleasure from this book. Master storytelling. No matter what your interests are if you enjoy good stories you will enjoy this book. I will definitely be moving on to read his other books.

4 people found this helpful

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Time capsule that ends in 1979

Some of the reviews have disliked this book due to it not being current- I think I loved it for the very same reason! This book is a very comprehensive history of the The Dakota from its inception to about 1978. For many of us, the most well-known fact about this building is that John Lennon was killed in front of this building as he was returning home one night. It was cool to hear all about the building and it’s inhabitants including John Lennon without that event overshadowing it. Now it would be great to have volume 2 that opens right where this book leaves off to current time. Loved it!!

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting Stories

The stories of the Dakota, its neighbor hood, and it's residents was very interesting to listen too. I love being more knowledgeable about the history of this NYC icon. It was also narrated well. Since it was copy righted in 1979, it would be nice to hear a sequel to catch up on its happenings in the past 40 years.

2 people found this helpful

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Lovely Story

I liked the story and very eloquent by no means boring but I did not like the voices of the male characters they seemed women trying to speak like men. Other than that it is a very nice story.

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Oh Hum

Expected more about the people that live there instead of so in depth of the building. It tended to be dry and somewhat droning.

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    1 out of 5 stars

A boring look at boring people

Not what I expected. Just whining about how people of "quality" have disappeared and quirky chic oddities have driven the building into a cheesy haven of lazy, selfish yuppies. Pretty boring.

1 person found this helpful