Built more than 130 years ago, New York’s first true luxury apartment house, the Dakota, is still the gold standard against which all others are weighed. Historian Andrew Alpern recounts how Singer sewing magnate Edward Clark erected a building luxurious enough to coax the wealthy from their mansions downtown to ultra-modern living on the former swamplands of the Upper West Side. Redrawn plans, published here for the first time, show how Clark created glamorous apartments that made life under a shared roof as acceptable in Manhattan as in Europe’s grand capitals, revolutionizing apartment life in New York City. This internationally renowned building is now accessible to us all—at least in print, if not in its ultra-private, well-guarded reality.
Andrew Alpern is an architectural historian, architect, and attorney. An expert on historic apartment houses, he has authored nine books on the subject, including The Dakota: A History of the World’s Best-Known Apartment Building (Princeton Architectural Press, 2015) and Luxury Apartment Houses of Manhattan: An Illustrated History (Dover, 1993). Valuing the history of real estate development, he is the co-author with the late Seymour Durst of Holdouts!: The Buildings That Got in the Way (2011).