Where Heroes and Heroines Fall In Love: Why Setting Is So Important

Where Heroes and Heroines Fall In Love: Why Setting Is So Important

Dakota tower

My new historical romance series called “The Baldwins of Manhattan”, is set in New York City in the late 1800s. Joseph Baldwin, the patriarch is a newspaper publisher who owns six major newspapers in the United States (think William Randolf Hearst). Each book in the series follows the lives and loves of the five Baldwin children – Adam, Allie, Mia, and twins Emma and Ava who live with their equally wonderful parents, Joseph and Clara Baldwin in a unique apartment building called The Sandanko, in the then remote upper area of Manhattan. (It was not called the Upper West Side until the 20th century.) Well, to be honest, Adam, lives in Chicago and runs his father’s Chicago newspaper there (Adam’s book will be the final book in the series, and wait until you see what I have planned for Adam! His life will be turned upside down when he FINALLY finds true love. But back to the Sandanko. I situated this wonderful living facility, just across from Central Park. This building houses 60 families and will provide the backdrop for the Baldwin family series and more series to come! In fact, The Sandanko will be a prominent “character” in all of my upcoming books.

The inspiration for this building is based on The Dakota building. Now, this is where my 50+ years as an interior designer and educator come in. Setting is so important – it is literally and figuratively the foundation of the story. So with that in mind – I want to share with you some fascinating facts about The Dakota (my inspiration) for the setting of my WIP, THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN (book one in my Baldwin Family Series. The heroine is the eldest daughter in the Baldwin family, Allie. Allie writes for her father’s newspaper and is, shall we say, a mite headstrong. But don’t worry, the hero Peter, in my book will be able to keep up with her. I can’t wait for you to read it. But in the mean time – here are some fascinating facts about The Dakota building:

Architect Henry J Hardenbergh designed The Dakota in1884. A local chap, he was born in New Brunswick, NJ.  Schooled at Hasbrouck Institute in Jersey City, and apprenticed in New York from 1865-1870 under Detlef Lienau, architect of Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, Norwalk, CT. The Dakota apartments, a coop, is exclusive to the famous, movie stars, musicians and the wealthy.

The Dakota built 1884, photo is c.1890 First building in this remote area

The Dakota got its name because the  area was remote in relation to the rest of the Island of Manhattan, and more like the remote Dakota Territory, so far west and so far north, as mentioned in Christopher Gray’s book, New York Streetscapes.

Entrance

The building’s high gables and deep roofs with a profusion of dormers, terracotta spandrels and panels, niches, balconies, and balustrades give it a North German Renaissance character, an echo of a Hanseatic town hall. Nevertheless, its layout and floor plan betray a strong influence of French architectural trends in housing design that had become known in New York in the 1870s. High above the 72nd Street entrance, the figure of a Dakota Indian keeps watch.

Dakota Indian figure

The Dakota is square, built around a central courtyard. The arched main entrance is a porte-cochère large enough for the horse-drawn carriages. The area is sheltered from the weather. The general layout of the apartments is in the French style of the period, with all major rooms not only connected to each other, in enfilade, in the traditional way, but also accessible from a hall or corridor, an arrangement that allows a natural migration for guests from one room to another, especially on festive occasions, yet gives service staff discreet separate circulation patterns that offer service access to the main rooms. The principal rooms, such as parlors or the master bedroom, face the street, while the dining room, kitchen, and other auxiliary rooms are oriented toward the courtyard. Apartments thus are aired from two sides, which was a relative novelty in Manhattan at the time. Some of the drawing rooms are 49 ft (15 m) long, and many of the ceilings are 14 ft (4.3 m) high; the floors are inlaid with mahogany, oak, and cherry.

Courtyard

Originally, the Dakota had 65 apartments with four to 20 rooms, no two being alike. The apartments all look out onto an open courtyard as depicted here in this photo. These apartments are accessed by staircases and elevators placed in the four corners of the courtyard. Separate service stairs and elevators serving the kitchens are located in mid-block. Built to cater for the well-to-do, the Dakota featured many amenities and a modern infrastructure that was exceptional for the time. The building has a large dining hall; meals also could be sent up to the apartments by dumbwaiters. Electricity was generated by an in-house power plant and the building has central heating. Beside servant quarters, there was a playroom and a gymnasium under the roof. In later years, these spaces on the tenth floor were converted into apartments for economic reasons. The Dakota property also contained a garden, private croquet lawns, and a tennis court behind the building between 72nd and 73rd Streets.

Dakota

All apartments were let before the building opened. For the high society of Manhattan, it became fashionable to live in the building, or at least to rent an apartment there as a secondary city residence, and the Dakota’s success prompted the construction of many other luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan.

Central Park at the foot of the Dakota

Wikipedia. Click this for more interesting facts like the famous who lived here, and John Lennon’s murder outside the building in 1980.

An entrance to the 72nd Street station of the New York City Subway‘s A B C trains is outside the building.

Dedicated as a National New York City Landmark in 1969, and in 1976 a National Historic Landmark.

And did you know that the Dakota has had many famous celebrity residents? Here are just a few: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Bono from U2, Rosemary Clooney, Lauren Bacall, Lillian Gish, Boris Karloff, author Harlan Coben and the inventor of the Steinway piano, Henry E. Steinway (and his family).

Indigo Sky for the reader who enjoys historical romance! @AmazonKindle http://amzn.to/2nWqbcq  Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE
Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA

 

 

 

DAKOTA BUILDING HISTORY

DAKOTA BUILDING HISTORY

Dakota tower

Architect Henry J Hardenbergh designed The Dakota in1884. A local chap, he was born in New Brunswick, NJ.  Schooled at Hasbrouck Institute in Jersey City, and apprenticed in New York from 1865-1870 under Detlef Lienau, architect of Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, Norwalk, CT. The Dakota apartments, a coop, is exclusive to the famous, movie stars, musicians and the wealthy.

The Dakota built 1884, photo is c.1890 First building in this remote area

The Dakota got its name because the  area was remote in relation to the rest of the Island of Manhattan, and more like the remote Dakota Territory, so far west and so far north, as mentioned in Christopher Gray’s book, New York Streetscapes.

Entrance

The building’s high gables and deep roofs with a profusion of dormers, terracotta spandrels and panels, niches, balconies, and balustrades give it a North German Renaissance character, an echo of a Hanseatic town hall. Nevertheless, its layout and floor plan betray a strong influence of French architectural trends in housing design that had become known in New York in the 1870s. High above the 72nd Street entrance, the figure of a Dakota Indian keeps watch.

Dakota Indian figure

The Dakota is square, built around a central courtyard. The arched main entrance is a porte-cochère large enough for the horse-drawn carriages. The area is sheltered from the weather. The general layout of the apartments is in the French style of the period, with all major rooms not only connected to each other, in enfilade, in the traditional way, but also accessible from a hall or corridor, an arrangement that allows a natural migration for guests from one room to another, especially on festive occasions, yet gives service staff discreet separate circulation patterns that offer service access to the main rooms. The principal rooms, such as parlors or the master bedroom, face the street, while the dining room, kitchen, and other auxiliary rooms are oriented toward the courtyard. Apartments thus are aired from two sides, which was a relative novelty in Manhattan at the time. Some of the drawing rooms are 49 ft (15 m) long, and many of the ceilings are 14 ft (4.3 m) high; the floors are inlaid with mahogany, oak, and cherry.

Courtyard

Originally, the Dakota had 65 apartments with four to 20 rooms, no two being alike. The apartments all look out onto an open courtyard as depicted here in this photo. These apartments are accessed by staircases and elevators placed in the four corners of the courtyard. Separate service stairs and elevators serving the kitchens are located in mid-block. Built to cater for the well-to-do, the Dakota featured many amenities and a modern infrastructure that was exceptional for the time. The building has a large dining hall; meals also could be sent up to the apartments by dumbwaiters. Electricity was generated by an in-house power plant and the building has central heating. Beside servant quarters, there was a playroom and a gymnasium under the roof. In later years, these spaces on the tenth floor were converted into apartments for economic reasons. The Dakota property also contained a garden, private croquet lawns, and a tennis court behind the building between 72nd and 73rd Streets.

Dakota

All apartments were let before the building opened. For the high society of Manhattan, it became fashionable to live in the building, or at least to rent an apartment there as a secondary city residence, and the Dakota’s success prompted the construction of many other luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan.

Central Park at the foot of the Dakota

Wikipedia. Click this for more interesting facts like the famous who lived here, and John Lennon’s murder outside the building in 1980.

An entrance to the 72nd Street station of the New York City Subway‘s A B C trains is outside the building.

Dedicated as a National New York City Landmark in 1969, and in 1976 a National Historic Landmark.

Inspired by the Dakota Building, the Baldwins, a prominent family in my new five book series about four sisters and one brother, were the first tenants in the Sandanko Building, in the late nineteenth century. The remote area appealed to the rich, and has held that reputation since the first occupant to today, both for luxury apartment living and for the convenience of the popular Central Park directly across the street.

 My current book, Indigo Sky, can be found on Amazon in three forms, print book, ebook, and audiobook.

Indigo Sky for the reader who enjoys historical romance! @AmazonKindle http://amzn.to/2nWqbcq  Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE
Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA

 

 

 

ROMANCING A CASTLE

ROMANCING A CASTLE

Durham Castle

Durham Castle

Romancing a castle, or is it romance in a castle? We are fascinated with the idea of a castle. Kids create sand castles, sculptors carve ice castles and street artists paint 3-D images of castles onto sidewalks. Castles were built for the Crusaders as protection–designed for strength, not beauty. Yet their massiveness and skillful masonry convey a sense of grandeur and of style. There is no mistaking the character of a Norman Keep at the top of a castle.

Durham Castle Keep exterior

Durham Castle Keep exterior

Castles were designed to deal with weapons and tactics which changed  slowly, and the availability of materials, manpower and skills was also influential. The shortage of timber in Palestine, for example, encouraged the use of more stone than in Europe.

For some centuries, the security of life in towns depended upon their fortifications, and the constricting girdle of walls and towers did much to shape the architecture of cities. As with the island of Manhattan, they encouraged high rather than wide building. Castles were fortified villages, sheltering people of every level of society and providing a store for grain against famine as well as imminent siege.

Durham Keep Terrace

Durham Keep Terrace

Durham Castle is a Norman castle in the city of Durham, England. In 1837, the castle was donated to the newly-formed University of Durham by Bishop Edward Maltby as accommodation for students. It was named University College. Architect Anthony Salvin rebuilt the dilapidated Keep from the original plans. Opened in 1840, the castle still houses over 100 students, most of whom are in the Keep.

Castle Keep details (Dover Castle)

Castle Keep details (Dover Castle)

Click the Keep above for the details.

The castle stands on top of a hill above the River Wear on Durham’s peninsula, opposite Durham Cathedral.The castle was originally built in the 11th century as a projection of the Norman king’s power in the north of England, as the population of England in the north remained “wild and fickle” following the disruption of the Norman Conquest in 1066. It is an example of the early motte and bailey castles favored by the Normans. The holder of the office of the Bishop of Durham was a appointed by the King to exercise royal authority on his behalf, the castle was his seat.

Castle Bodiam moat

Castle Bodiam moat

The design of castles has always been a subject worthy of princes. Château Gaillard is a ruined medieval castle, located 90 meters above the commune of Les Andelys overlooking the River Seine in the Upper Normandy region of northern France, one of the most original designs, was the personal achievement of Richard I of England. The owners of most castles played a large part in their design.

Chateau Gaillard, France

Chateau Gaillard, France

The evidence is scanty, but we can reasonably surmise  there was a close working relationship between the princes and the peers who designed the castles and their usually anonymous master masons, who signed their work with their individual marks.

chest 12th century

English: 12th century oak chest iron wrapped. Original purpose-to store alms from sinners seeking remission

The styles of this period are known as Romanesque and Norman (800-1150). After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the new king, William the Conqueror granted protection and repose to the conquered Saxon Thanes. Medieval homes were sparsely furnished by modern standards. The most common items were chests. They came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Besides serving as easily transportable storage containers, the chest also served as tables and for seating. Wood of the day was oak, or whatever local woods were available. A visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, will give you a first hand look at this type of work.

chest-Tudor type (wood-oak)

Oak chest-iron wrapped

The seven Crusades that occurred between the years 1096 and 1270 were of great political, economic and artistic importance. The Crusades did not accomplish any lasting good so far as their original purpose was concerned. They brought, however, a great change in the thought and in the manner of living of the people of Europe that was first noticeable in the Gothic period. They awakened interest at home in the ancient civilizations of Greece, Asia Minor, and the highly developed culture of the Eastern Empire, and they developed a doubt concerning some of the doctrines of the established Roman church, that later formed the roots of the Renaissance.

Durham Castle is jointly designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, a short distance across Palace Green.

Would you like to live in a castle? Hmm, well, experience living in one for a day, a week, a year?

 

 

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