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One of the most interesting buildings in Manhattan is certainly a landmark, though it doesn’t come up as often as many of the others. Possibly because this building is a landmark not for its height, or its grandeur, but because of the darkness that surrounds it. Built between 1880 and 1884, the Dakota started off as a building alone in what was, at the time, an empty area of the island of Manhattan. Today, we call that area the Upper West Side, and it is far from empty.
The most famous story of Lennon’s ghost appearing at the Dakota was told by Yoko Ono. As the story goes, Yoko, who lived in the Dakota for 20 years after Lennon’s death, saw the spirit of the musical god sitting at his piano. Lennon turned to Yoko and said “Don’t be afraid. I am still with you,” before vanishing. The first reported sighting of Lennon’s ghost was in 1983 when Joey Harrow and Amanda Moores spotted the Beatle standing at the entrance of the Dakota. Harrow claimed that Lennon was surrounded by an ominous light, and Moores said that she almost walked up to Lennon, but the look on his face suggested he wasn’t in the mood to talk to strangers. I suppose being shot in the back five times by a stranger would make you wary.
Before his death, John Lennon claimed to have had his own paranormal experiences in the Dakota. Lennon told tales of seeing a spirit he called The Crying Lady walking the halls of the building. The going theory is that Lennon, and others who have seen this Crying Lady, are seeing the ghost of Elise Vesley, who managed the Dakota through the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Elise, who was way into the paranormal herself, believed that she had psychokinetic powers and was a major player in the Vedantist movement. As is often the story when it comes to ghosts, Mrs. Vesley suffered a great tragedy when her son was hit by a truck outside the Dakota. The boy died, and by all accounts, Mrs. Vesley was never the same again. She took to being extra nice, and extra protective of the children that lived in the Dakota.