Saturday, August 8, 2009

New York City, Central Park, The Dakota, and John Lennon

So the plane trip to New York was nice and uneventful. This time of year it's possible to catch many of the afternoon thunderstorms building in the mid-west. Fortunately, the early departure out of LAX meant we missed the turbulent air. Shortly after my arrival into JFK, I was reminded of a comment made by a friend about a year ago. He joked about his 4 day stay in New York City. "Believe it or not" he snickered "I spent more in ground transportation fees in those 4 days than I spent on my plane ticket from Los Angeles to New York."

I thought about his comment every time I reached into my pocket to pay cab fare. $50 seems to be about the flat rate from Kennedy airport to anywhere in Manhattan. And every other time I jumped in a cab (think dinner, shopping, touring) it was roughly 7-8 bucks. I did manage to take the subway system twice. That ran about 2 dollars each way but who's counting? The economy needs stimulating right? And maybe some of that stimulus money will end up back in my pocket.

Anyway, I parked at the New York Hilton (vice the W where I stayed last October) for my stay this time just to take in a different part of the city. It's just a few short blocks away from Central Park and is noted for many things. A friend pointed out to me that it's where Malcolm X spent the night before he was assassinated. Yikes! I said. Remembering that Ronald Reagan was shot just outside the Washington Hilton and Towers. (Now I'm thinking about my Hilton Honors Card and how many times I've used the Hilton brand). I'll be looking over my shoulder each time I walk out of the hotel from now on.

Oh well, seems I need to do more blogging and less thinking. This thinking stuff can be stressful. The Hilton was fine. But given the option and all costs being equal, I'll pick the "W" over the Hilton for my place to stay in New York. The rooms at the "W" were just a bit more luxurious and I liked the boutique feeling. On second thought, there is a Doubletree in Time Square. You know how I feel about their cookies!

So anyway,

My first day in town I walked up to Central Park West and strolled by The Dakota. I know, I'm headed down this morbid assassination/killing trail but bear with me, it will be short and I'll be moving on to something more lively in my next post.

The Dakota, constructed from October 25, 1880 to October 27, 1884, is an apartment building located on the northwest corner of 72ND Street and Central Park West in New York City. The architectural firm of Henry Janeway Hardenbergh was commissioned to do the design for Edward Clark, head of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. The firm also designed the Plaza Hotel. (Home of - YOU Guessed it - The wonderful and dearest Eloise!)

"According to popular legend, the Dakota was so named because at the time it was built, the Upper West Side of Manhattan was sparsely inhabited and considered as remote as the Dakota Territory." It is more likely that the building was named "The Dakota" because of Clark's fondness for the names of the new western states and territories. High above the 72ND Street entrance, the figure of a Dakota Indian keeps watch. The Dakota was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976."

The Dakota Circa 1890

Some of you will remember the building is probably best known as the home of former Beatle John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, starting in 1973, and was also the location of Lennon's murder by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980. As of 2009, Ono still has an apartment in the building. Some other famous residents of the building:

Lauren Bacall - actress, Leonard Bernstein - composer/conductor, Roberta Flack - singer, Judy Garland - actress , John Madden - football player, coach and announcer, Neil Sedaka - singer, and Boris Karloff - actor.

Just across the street and a very short walk away is Central Park and the location of the Strawberry Fields memorial.

Every year, Ono marks the anniversary of Lennon's death with a now-public pilgrimage to the memorial.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for more........

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