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The ultimate guide to NYC as seen on screen


Whether it be an unplanned holiday trip, an epic clash to save the world, friends experiencing daily life in the five boroughs or anything in between, storytellers in film and television have long chosen New York City as their setting. No matter your favourite genre, a trip to NYC is an opportunity to see where some of these iconic scenes came to life, including:

 

30 Rock NBC Studios (Image Marley White)

 

For the sitcom lover

 

Friends 

While Friends was primarily filmed in a studio, the West Village apartment where Rachel, Monica, Joey, Phoebe, Ross and Chandler live and hang out is a real building on the corner of Bedford and Grove Streets. At its street level, you will find Mediterranean restaurant The Little Owl in the same space as the Central Perk café where Rachel works and Phoebe famously performs “Smelly Cat.” Additionally, the neighbourhood houses a number of prominent Off-Broadway theatres including The Lucille Lortel Theatre, where aspiring actor Joey performs in the show’s earlier seasons.

 

How I Met Your Mother

While retracing Ted’s 11-season search for his wife, be sure to grab a drink at McGee’s, the Midtown Manhattan bar that inspired the gang’s go-to spot, MacLarens; try what Marshall declares to be the best burger in NYC at ‘21’ Club; tour the Columbia University campus where Ted (unwittingly) first meets his wife; and have a legen…wait for it…dary time at NYC icons featured in the series, such as the American Museum of Natural History and Empire State Building.

 

30 Rock

The iconic address of the studio where Liz Lemon, Jack Donaghy, Jenna Maroney and Kenneth Parcell make the sketch comedy show TGS with Tracy Jordan is the actual home of NBC Studios. The Tour at NBC Studios offers a behind-the-scenes look at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, including Saturday Night Live, the source of showrunner Tina Fey’s inspiration for the beloved comedy.

 

Seinfeld 

Contrary to Jerry and friends’ experiences, nobody will yell, “No soup for you!” at The Original Soupman on West 55th Street in Midtown or at the eatery’s kiosk in Times Square. Meanwhile, Morningside Heights’ Tom’s Restaurant (Monk’s Diner) has all the great no-fuss comfort food and 75-cent coffee the cast enjoyed on-screen. Finally, Gray’s Papaya really does have some of the best hot dogs in the City - “better than filet mignon!” if you ask Kramer.

 

For the hopeless romantic

 

When Harry Met Sally

Thirty years later, you can still have what Sally was having at Katz’s Delicatessen on the Lower East Side, double date at the Upper West Side’s Café Luxembourg, and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Washington Square Park, where Sally first tells Harry to “have a nice life” at the beginning of the film.

 

You’ve Got Mail

Relive this ’90s romance at sites of important scenes such as Café Lalo on the Upper West Side, “The Most Famous Café in the City”; Zabar’s, the great local market where Joe saves Kathleen’s Thanksgiving; and the 91st Street Garden in Riverside Park where the film concludes as the pair realize their feelings for each another.

 

For the girls’ trip planner

 

Sex and the City

New York City has often been said to be the series’ fifth character, and fans can get retail therapy at the Greenwich Village boutiques Carrie and friends frequented, snack on cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery, walk with a loved one to the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, and do your best to catch a foul ball (and a date) at a New York Yankees game—to live like Carrie and the girls.

 

Gossip Girl

On Manhattan’s Upper East Side, visitors can climb the steps of The Met Fifth Avenue, where Blair and company famously held lunch breaks, before heading further uptown to the Museum of the City of New York, filmed as the Constance Billard and St. Jude Schools. After getting spotted at these elite schools, you can check out the home of Chuck Bass and the Van der Woodsen family at the Lotte New York Palace, just five blocks north of Grand Central Terminal, where Serena makes her dramatic entrance to the show in season 1.

 

Girls

See where Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna try to navigate their early 20s. In Greenpoint, Brooklyn, enjoy a latte at Café Grumpy, the real coffee shop that is fictionally managed by Ray and frequented by the girls, and venture to Manhattan to see when the story begins as Hannah’s parents tell her they will no longer financially support her, at Muralson 54 restaurant.

  

For the superhero superfan

 

Avengers

While the film’s famous battle of New York included scenes all over the City, most of the action takes place in Midtown Manhattan. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye first meet the alien attackers in front of Grand Central Terminal, while Stark Tower is a couple of blocks west at 4 Times Square, formally the Condé Nast Building. In the end, Hulk defeats Loki for good, with Manhattan still standing, in front of the historic Chrysler Building before Thor beams him back to Asgard for trial from Bethesda Terrace in Central Park.

 

Batman

The masked hero that earned NYC the nickname “Gotham” has been portrayed in areas throughout the City for more than 80 years. With his Wayne Enterprises headquartered at One Liberty Plaza, just a block from the World Trade Center inLower Manhattan, Batman defeats Bane in the final fight scene of the Dark Knight trilogy on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange while the QueensboroBrooklyn and Williamsburg bridges also play prominent roles in the film.

 

Spiderman 

Your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman has made harrowing rescues all over NYC over the years. In the original Spiderman film, Peter Parker saves love interest Mary Jane from the Green Goblin in Times Square before defeating the villain on Roosevelt Island. Other high-flying fights in the films take place at the Empire State BuildingStatue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

  

For the thriller enthusiast

 

Ghostbusters 

The 1984 paranormal film has found new life in New York City thanks to the Ghostbusters Experience at Madame Tussauds New York in Times Square where visitors can fight ghosts through a hyper-reality experience. In addition, the functioning firehouse Hook & Ladder Company 8 (Ghostbusters headquarters), Spook Central (55 Central Park West) and The New York Public Library – Stephen A. Schwarzman Building are film locations that can be visited.

 

Men in Black 

Agent K and Agent J fight aliens all over the five boroughs in this action-packed trilogy. In two of the most prominent scenes, Agent J chases and captures the first alien he encounters on the job in the Guggenheim Museum on the Upper East Side, and the agents save the galaxy in Corona Park, Queens, after thwarting a hidden spaceship that lived atop the World’s Fair site for years.

 

Ocean’s 8

In addition to the Costume Institute Gala at The Met, targeted by the crew in the film and featuring “Camp: Notes on Fashion” this May, several prominent NYC landmarks are featured in the latest instalment of the Ocean’s franchise. The TWA Flight Center at JFK, soon to be the TWA Hotel (opening May 15), houses the fashion show where Debbie Ocean and crew recruit an integral teammate; the Cartier Mansion guards the necklace they are after; and a Bushwick, Brooklyn, loft acts as the team’s headquarters.

 

For the whole family

 

Home Alone 2

Although Kevin didn’t mean to visit New York City, he managed to check out some of the best attractions in Midtown Manhattan while he was there. As he successfully thwarted the bandits’ plan to rob Duncan’s Toy Chest (filmed at FAO Schwarz), Kevin also enjoyed all the amenities offered at The Plaza Hotel, caught a show at Carnegie Hall from a VIP point of view, fed the pigeons in Central Park and met family at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

 

School of Rock 

Imposter substitute teacher Dewey Finn and his students put on a show for their “final exam” in a Battle of the Bands shot inside Staten Island’s St. George Theatre, while their yearlong practice at Horace Green Prep School was filmed at the borough’s Wagner College.

 

The Muppets & Sesame Street

At the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, The Jim Henson Exhibition provides an illuminating behind-the-scenes look into the creation of iconic productions The Muppets and Sesame Street, filmed to this day at Kaufman Astoria Studios. Character sketches, scripts, clips and unseen footage are among the nearly 300 items on display celebrating Henson’s work and Legacy.

 

Night at the Museum

Although the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side closes at 5:45pm, you can still see the exhibits protected by night guard Larry Daley in the film, seven days a week. One of the most prominent characters, Rexy, is now in a temporary solo exhibit including fossils, virtual reality experiences and life-size T. rex models that explore this famous predator in greater depth than ever before.

 

 

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Published: 10 July 2019


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