4. The Unknown Portraits on the Facade of The Dakota
East Roof Detail, 1965. Image via The Library of Congress
There is quite a lot of eclectic ornamentation on The Dakota, including double dragon iron supports on the railings and grotesque like details. On a gable on the south facade is the date 1881 (which Alpern suggests is the date the construction of the building itself began, while foundation work began in 1880) and the head of a “perhaps-Dakota Indian.” There are two circular portraits over the entrance at 72nd Street and another two above an arch on the Central Park West side. Like the subjects carved in the lobby of the Woolworth Building, there is no record of who these people may be and none look like Clark or Hardenbergh. Alpern suggests that one above the main entrance is “strikingly close” to Isaac Merritt Singer and the one next to it his last wife. The subject of the portraits along Central Park West remain a mystery.