8. The Dakota Has a Hidden Lower Level Courtyard for Services

Basement Floor Plan-THe Dakota Apartments-Upper West Side-Central Park West-NYCFloor plan by Mia Ho from The Dakota: A History of the World’s Best-Known Apartment Building

Underneath the celebrated courtyard of The Dakota is a lower level courtyard with exactly the same dimensions as the public one. Accessed via a driveway from the rear side along 73rd Street, this lower level courtyard was constructed to manage services, deliveries, and access for staff, as the service elevators and staircases commence from this level of the building. It is lit by skylights cleverly “contained within a pair of decorative fountains at the street around which the carraiges could turn.” In 1891, The Dakota architect H.J. Hardenbergh was compelled to respond to an article in American Architect and Building News that stated that the service entrances were on the same level as the main courtyard, an error he believed the result of the basement plans having never been published. In his reply, he concludes contending that the hidden courtyard below has provided “perfect quiet and seclusion for the main court-yard.”