“New York New York, its a wonderful town” as Frank Sinatra would have it, this city has for some reason been the love of our lives. You may not be a New Yorker by birth or residence but somewhere you too will have a strong sentiment towards the city’s magical existence thanks to the library of movies and sitcoms raining down on us all our life. Generations have romanced the idea of living the New York life that resembles our favourite characters from the silver screen or celluloid. Is it any wonder that this is the most filmed city in the world? Walk through certain neighbourhood’s of the city and you are bound to see an on-location set of a crime drama, sitcom, reality show or a movie. Its almost as though Hollywood can’t do without its eastern alter ego. I got an inspiration to write this article when I stumbled upon many tours acquainting tourists to their favourite show/movie’s location spots. I thought to myself “really? you need a guide to take you around Manhattan’s streets where your favourite shows were shot?” I mean for some I am sure its a respite to have an organised day of touring the city but that’s not really how it should be done. Its New York! You got to live it to experience it and you can’t be told “and this is where Audrey Hepburn had her bagel while peeping into the window display and next we’ll be passing through the penthouse building where Blair Waldorf lived”. So I am going to make it simple for those who can handle speeding through the city at its pace. First off walk the streets of Manhattan as much as you can, believe me you are never going to have New York seeps through your skin into your veins until you cross the streets on feet. Sure you can take a limo like Chuck Bass or Mr Big but save that for the evening ride around town, in the day light soak up the East Coast sun in the Big Apple. Oh one more word to the wise by the time you visit all these locations please realise you have practically seen most of New York without a tour guide. Thank me later!
Where do I begin singing rhapsodies about this gem in the crown of the city? Central Park is more like the movie buff’s shrine to visit. If New York is the center of the Universe, Central Park is the center of New York. Name a movie or a TV show that doesn’t show a frame of this emerald oasis. From the classic black and whites to today’s romantic stories on screen, every ‘Love at first sight’ scene has been pictured here. Kevin’s scary moments in Home Alone 2 are in this park with the Pigeon lady and the two thugs being arrested in the end. Blair and Dorota have fed an entire generation of ducks near the Gapstow Bridge pond where she kissed Nate and fought with Chuck. Bethesda Terrace and Fountain has been the wedding venue of Chuck and Blair, while it is a chasing sequence to get away from trouble in Home Alone 2. Bethesda Terrace is also been featured in White Collar the hit convict-FBI drama on USA network. If you are into animated movies or romantic movies this is where the dance sequence was filmed in the movie Enchanted. The Reservoir Bridge too is a favourite of many movie crews. Enchanted was filmed with James Marsden and Patrick Dempsey. Sex and The City takes the award for making New York the apple of TV watcher’s eye. The girls jogged here in Central Park, Carrie and Big almost had a rekindling date here until they fell abruptly in the pond, Charlotte takes her three dogs out for a walk, Miranda finds a date that is a disappointment, Carrie and the Russian take horse ride in the sixth season. I can’t keep going on about one location as this article needs to get going. No matter where you stay in New York you can walk up to the bus stop that takes you either on central park west or 6th avenue considering you live a bit further away. If you are lucky to stay closer there isn’t a better hotel location than one closer to the park.
Grand Army Plaza and Pulitzer Fountain: You will recognise Grand Army Plaza as a meeting place decided by the protagonist and the side kick or the two lead actors. Serena and Colin drove in a cab from Columbia from here, Mozzie and Neal met Alex here once in White Collar. It has always been a silent backdrop to numerous scenes and thus has gone unnoticed. If you are visiting Central Park this is just a circle outside where fifth avenue and 59th street meet. While you are there do step into The Plaza Hotel if you aren’t staying there already. This hotel itself is a film location to many movies including Eloise in the Park and Home Alone 2. Remember the Oak Room which was Chuck Bass’s regular haunt?
Hold court on the steps of the MET like Blair and Jenny or visit the museum that has been a location for The Thomas Crown Affair. The Guggenheim Museum up the mile has also been a location for Ugly Betty, White Collar and many more shows and movies. Museum Mile is also one of the locations where you can visit the plush building 1136 that was always shown as Blair’s penthouse. The side walk down the mile along the park is a backdrop for many scenes that show characters walking while talking to somewhere in New York.
SATC, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Gossip Girl and Friends have all made this particular avenue the most filmed stretch in New York next to Central Park. Step into Bergdoff and Goodman, Saks on fifth, Barney’s and Bloomingdale to live the life of Samantha Jones and Co., Blair and Serena, Rachel Green and most importantly Holy Golightly. Speaking of Holy Golightly the scene that took everyone by storm where Audrey Hepburn has breakfast by the Tiffany’s window has always been played by many of her fans just to tick off the fan list. Fifth avenue is a long stretch and runs along the length of approximately three quarters of Manhattan, you can choose to step out on the side walk along The Plaza or on the Apple Store end either ways there is a lot of walking to do towards the south of the city.
One of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in Manhattan, Riverside Drive has been know to feature as Tom Hanks and Tina Fey’s residence in You’ve Got Mail and 30 Rock respectively. Remember 152 Riverside Drive was the hint of the handle Joe Fox used to chat with Kathleen Kelly. If walk along the street, you can pass through some scenes from the Nora Ephron romance classic where Meg Ryan’s character Kathleen Kelly takes her daily route to the Shop Around The Corner. The actual shop was morphed into a book store for the movie and it isn’t really in existence like you see in the movie. Meg Ryan’s brown stone building on too has been filmed here in the neighbourhood. While on the upper west side of Manhattan do catch up with the Riverside townhouse that played the exterior to Neal Caffrey’s plush apartment in White Collar. Apart from just the locations this neighbourhood will charm you with its park and trails. The famous kiss of You’ve Got Mail’s climax was shot in the Riverside Park near 91st street.
Lincoln Center / Columbus Circle / Washington Square:
How many times have you seen the montage of Washington Square in the ultimate hit sitcom FRIENDS? Every time the scene changed at least once in the episode this monument was featured. Lincoln Center is another classic location where many scenes were shot in Gossip Girl such as the opening of the winter ballet in Season 4 or the breakfast Lola has with her father Dr Van der Woodsen. You must have seen Columbus Circle countless times before you knew anything about the city. It is one of those many structures in the architecture of New York city that has to be the backdrop of many court room drama or sitcoms.
Grand Central Station / Rockefeller Center:
The Grand Central Station has a place of its own when it comes to film location. If there is a train boarding or arriving to the city scene it has to this bustling portal to the city. You have to really count the years in which this station has been not featured in either the movies or TV shows. For the younger readers of course they remember this location as the spot where lonely boy Dan Humphrey spots Serena coming back to the city after her MIA status in Knightly. The Rockefeller Center is known for holiday movie location as the world’s most famous Christmas tree is displayed here where Kevin and his mom reunited in Home Alone 2, Ugly Betty was shot here for the festive episodes. The hit TV show 30 Rock’s titular location is situated in the building as NBC office.
Empire State Building / Flatiron District:
And then there were two. These epic structures in the history of architecture have been immortalized before we were even born. Empire State Building is at the helm of every romantic moment or the arrival of a devastating storm in the city. It is the towering glory of New York though it isn’t the tallest building today as it was back in the day, there is no other building in the world that has been capture on camera as much as this one. An Affaire to Remember started the whole ‘falling in love / proposing on the roof of Empire State Building’ phenomenon which inspired Sleepless in Seattle as well as Gossip Girl’s epic third season finale. It has been the center of the movie Miracle on the 34th street as well as many alien invasion sci-fi movies. The second structure – Flatiron Building has been described quite romantically by the character Ted Mosby in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. He was inspired by this building that changed the way architecture trends carried forward in the by gone era and has since then influenced many well known developers to have such corner buildings with a bifurcation. White Collar has often shown this district as the place where Neal and Mozzie catch up.
Bedford Street / Perry Street West Village:
All you FRIENDS and SATC fans should not miss taking a quick look at the apartment building shown as the residence of the friends on Bedford Street in Greenwich Village or Carrie Bradshaw’s brown stone stoop on Perry Street in West Village. Both are synonymous to what the shows represent in the life of their fans.