Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Dakota

On a recent trip to New York City, one of my must-see destinations was to visit the Dakota, which is located across from Central Park on West 72nd Street. I wanted to see it for a couple reasons: 1) it's where John Lennon lived and died and 2) it was used in one of my favorite films - Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby.

The Dakota is a foreboding place, surrounded by wrought iron and scary-looking sculptures but it is also inviting in a gothic sort of way.

Here's how the Dakota is described on the Wikipedia website:

The building's high gables and deep roofs with a profusion of dormers, terracotta spandrels and panels, niches, balconies, and balustrades give it a North German Renaissance character, an echo of a Hanseatic townhall. Nevertheless, its layout and floor plan betray a strong influence of French architectural trends in housing design that had become known in New York in the 1870s.

While standing at the Dakota's entrance I imagined the night of December 8, 1980, when John Lennon was shot to death while returning home with Yoko Ono. Their album "Double Fantasy" had been released just three weeks prior.

I imagined Mark David Chapman waiting outside the apartment building, plotting. The feeling was oppressive and profoundly sad - Chapman destroyed one of world's greatest artists on a psychopathic whim.

Across the street is Central Park's Strawberry Fields. Vendors hawk Lennon pins, etchings and posters at the Park's entry way.

Go further into the park and the vendors disappear, giving way to this quiet homage:

I overheard a tour guide wrongly identify the song "Imagine" as one of the Beatles most popular. I felt a slight twinge at this mistake but not so much that I felt the need to correct him.

But just to set the record straight, it was John Lennon who wrote and recorded "Imagine." Not the Beatles.

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