Today is the 28th anniversay of John Lennon’s death, so I thought I would devote today’s blog to him. I have never really been much into music (my idea of a music icon is Britney Spears, if that tells you anything!) so I was never a fan of John Lennon or the Beatles. My mom, however, loved The Beatles (especially Ringo Starr) and during her teenage years even climbed up the side of a Japanese hotel where the Beatles were staying to try to catch a glimpse of him. She also snuck backstage during a Beach Boys concert, ran up to Dennis Wilson, kissed him on the lips, then ran back out, but that’s a whole other story. Now at least you know where I get it from. 🙂 Anyway, since my family always takes a New York vacation during the first week of December, I often find myself in Manhattan on the anniversary of John’s murder. Last December 8th my boyfriend and I decided to stop by both John’s former apartment building and his memorial to see if anything was going on. And boy was there!
Johns’ memorial, which is called Strawberry Fields, is a 2.5 acre tear-dropped shaped section of Central Park that was commissioned by Yoko Ono and designed by landscape architect Bruce Kelly. The memorial, which is considered an international peace garden, was opened to the public on October 9, 1985 (John’s birthday). The garden consists of 161 different varieties of flowers and plants, one representing each country of the world. Each year, on the anniversary of his death, countless fans make a pilgrimage to the memorial to honor his memory. Last year there were so many people there I couldn’t even get a picture of the famous “Imagine” plaque which was donated to the memorial by the Italian city of Naples. It’s amazing to me that 28 years after his death John can still draw such a huge crowd. On the anniversary of his death, most mourners pretty much camp out at the memorial for the entire day, singing Beatles songs, sharing John Lennon stories, and grieving the death of the legendary musician. It is really a site to behold. Last year, amid news crews conducting interviews, musicians singing tributes, and tourists taking photographs, I just had to snap a photo of the “Designated Quiet Zone” sign which sits at the entrance to the memorial. LOL
After visiting Strawberry Fields, I dragged my boyfriend across the street to John Lennon’s former residence, the Dakota apartment building. It was at the entrance to this building that John was killed 28 years ago today. On December 8, 1980, after finishing a session at a recording studio, John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono were driven by limo to their Upper West Side apartment just a few minutes before 11pm. As they made their way to the entrance of the building, deranged fan Mark David Chapman shot Lennon four times in the back. John collapsed in the entryway of the Dakota and was pronounced dead a short time later while on an operating table at Roosevelt Hospital.
The beautiful and unique Dakota apartment building has long been a celebrity haven. John and Yoko weren’t the only stars to call it home. Lauren Bacall, Judy Holliday, Jack Palance, John Madden, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, Gilda Radner, Paul Simon, Connie Chung and Boris Karloff have all lived at the building at one time or another. The Dakota is also a popular filming location! It was featured in Vanilla Sky (as Tom Cruise’s apartment), Rosemary’s Baby (as Mia Farrow’s pad), and House of Strangers.
Construction was completed on the famous Dakota Apartment building in the year 1884. It was built by architect Harry J. Hardenbergh, who also designed the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Carnegie Hall and, my favorite building in all of New York, the famed Plaza Hotel. The Dakota is very similar in looks to the Plaza, actually, with the same peaked slate and copper roofs, corner turrets, and French chateau accents. The Dakota is absolutely stunning in person and I highly recommend stalking it – even if you aren’t a Lennon fan!
Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂
Stalk It: The Dakota is located at 1 West 72nd Street on the Upper West Side of New York. Strawberry Fields memorial is located just across the street from the Dakota in Central Park. The entrance to the 2.5 acre memorial begins at Central Park West and 72nd Street.