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The Insider's Connection

Lauren Bacall

The Dakota: Fame and Survival in New York City

How does a building get famous? How do a building’s residents shape its history? What would the Upper West Side be like without The Dakota? Over the past 135 years, The Dakota building has maintained its complicated place in the spotlight. It was built on the Upper West Side when the area was farmland; scandalously far north (and west) from everything else at the time. Some critics suggested the building would fail; it was so remote it may as well be in ‘Dakota territory,’ which is the rumored reason for its unique name. It anchored the subsequent residential book on Central Park West, it survived three financial crashes and drastic neighborhood reconstructing, and it’s been home to famous artists, thinkers, and Bohemians for decades. In some ways, Manhattan’s Upper West Side has been built around The Dakota. No matter what…

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August 26, 2019

The Glamour and The Despair, The Barbizon Hotel

How do images from popular culture imbue legacy onto a structure? If a building is landmarked, does that mean its story will continue being told? How do we use grand narratives to remain comfortable and avoid looking into the hidden histories of people and places? The Barbizon Hotel operated from 1927-1981 as a women-only residence. The Late Gothic Revival-style building at 140 East 63rd Street stands at 23 stories tall, and for decades its 700 tiny dormitory rooms were home to young, hopeful, single women with modest means and huge dreams. Through pop culture, the Hotel has become somewhat iconic. Variations of the Barbizon are shown in Mad Men, The Bell Jar, Agent Carter, and more. Today, the landmarked building–a unique pink-toned brick exterior with Italian Renaissance characteristics–is now full of luxury condominiums with an Equinox gym downstairs. In the…

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July 8, 2019

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