The Dakota Apartment is Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast's primary residence in New York, an apartment at the Dakota building located at 72nd Street and Central Park West on the Upper West Side. His suite is actually three fifth-floor apartments which have been combined into one, and occupies most of the floor's 72nd Street and Central Park West frontage. Pendergast employs a deaf and mute housekeeper named Kyoko Ishimura to maintain the apartment.
The Dakota is a nine-story tall, light-brown colored stone tower with large gables over the façade and a slate roof. It was built in 1884. Both Laura Hayward and Vincent D'Agosta have remarked that the building looked like something out of a Charles Addams cartoon. Inside the entrance is a large interior courtyard with bronze fountains.
The elevator from the Dakota's southwest lobby opens onto a small maroon-carpeted landing with dark polished-wood walls. A single oak door leads to a windowless dusky rose-colored reception area, accented with black moulding and featuring a wall made entirely of black marble with a waterfall running down it. It is sparsely decorated with small leather sofas, impressionist paintings, and black lacquer tables holding settings of maidenhair and dwarf maple bonsai trees and a cat skull carved from Chinese jade. The doorway leading deeper into the apartment is almost invisibly integrated into the wall; a long dim central hallway lies beyond, with a number of doors along its length.
Library, Rare Books & Den
The library has many leatherbound books and smells of rich mahogany. It also houses a rosewood harpsichord.
Priceless illuminated manuscripts and incunabula in cases of mahogany and leaded glass occupy another small room off the main corridor, with Tabriz and Isfahan carpets and an antique coffered ceiling.
The small den that was Helen Pendergast's favorite room contains a pair of facing banquette seats nestled in a deep window embrasure; the large picture window between them overlooks the intersection of Central Park West and 72nd Street. The two side walls are lined with recessed floor-to-ceiling mahogany bookshelves full of volumes from the eighteenth and ninteenth centuries.
Pendergast's private study features an antique wood plank floor, historic textured wallpaper, and a blue trompe l'oeil sky in the style of Andrea Mantegna. A large rosewood Louis XV desk sits in the middle of the room, and a single display case holds a collection of what seem to be keepsakes from several of Pendergast's major cases, including a piece of hardened lava from the Stromboli volcano, a dried Mbwun lily, a broken Kraus's Kaverns stalactite, The Surgeon's antique surgical instruments, and a piece of Whitney Frock's wheelchair.
The salon is highlighted by a large Turkish rug separating a matching pair of overstuffed burgundy leather armchairs. Expensive silk carpets decorate the floor, and the room contains terminals hardwired to several law enforcement databases.
A vast, high-ceilinged chamber of dark, exquisitely wrought mahogany, the parlor is highlighted by an ornate marble fireplace and three large windows overlooking Central Park. Though a large table sits in the middle of the room, the room is completely devoid of seating.
The apartment contains a small old-fashioned laboratory. The walls are lined with old oaken cabinets filled with lab equipment, supplies and a collection of well-worn journals and reference books. A large soapstone lab table takes up most of the room, covered with chemical apparatuses and a Bunsen burner.
The "Red Room" is a small, rarely used, sparsely furnished room off the apartment's main corridor, with a chair, simple metal-frame bed, and a curtained window facing the Dakota's inner courtyard. There is a button near the door that can be used to summon Miss Ishimura.
The Dakota apartment's wine cellar is a climate-controlled vault lined with vintage wines in floor-to-ceiling teakwood racks. Among its collection are one of Pendergast's most prized wines: a dozen bottles of Château Pétrus Pomerol 1990, a red bordeaux blend valued at over $4,000 a bottle.
A "back door" passage to the apartment, the bolt-hole is a small secret room on the fourth floor of the Dakota, accessed via trapdoor and rope ladder from Pendergast's fifth-floor apartment. It is simply furnished with an oaken dresser and leather sofa, along with a worktable housing a variety of high-end computer equipment.
The bolt-hole exits to an old service elevator, leading to a series of corridors and stairways that travel from the Dakota to the basement of a brownstone structure half a block away at 24 West 72nd Street.
One of the main corridor rooms is a small room just large enough to accomodate two small chairs and a table. A large four-foot-wide steel bank vault holding a set of metal safe deposit box-style containers is set into one of the walls.
Most of Pendergast's few visitors have noticed a room with gilt-framed art lining the walls. The gallery is devoted entirely to Renaissance and Baroque oil paintings; its narrow walls are stacked five-high in some places.
The apartment's workroom is ideally suited for intensely focused concentration. It purposefully lacks decor or ornamentation, with walls and stained wooden floors of neutral gunmetal gray. A long oaken table serves as the room's only furniture, while an audio system set into the wall plays only one selection through hidden speakers: Ricercar a 6 from Bach's Musical Offering.
Pendergast maintains a simple windowless room with Japanese rice paper walls and tatami mats covering its floor. Its exact purpose is unknown.
Behind a shoji screen toward the end of the public rooms is a bathroom. A large high-walled Japanese ofuro bathtub made of blond hinoki wood sits upon a slate floor.
At the end of the main corridor of the "public" areas of the apartment, a door to what appears to be a closet leads to a small room, empty except for another door in the far wall. The secure door leads to Pendergast's private quarters, accessible by only himself and Miss Ishimura.
At the far end of the vast apartment, beyond the private rooms, is an uchi-roji, or Japanese teahouse garden, in exquisite miniature, filled with the scent of eucalyptus and the song of unseen birds. A path of flat stones lit by stone lanterns winds through dwarf evergreens, passing a bench of carved keyaki wood, zen garden and a goldfish pond. The teahouse itself includes all the elements for a formal Japanese tea ceremony.