Update: The Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That, has been released, and was filmed in many iconic NYC locations.
“In Hollywood, actors learn to act from watching television. In New York people learn to act by walking down the street.”
That quote, once uttered by the legendary Sydney Lumet, feels right. Walking the streets of the Big Apple feels like watching a movie. The city is dynamic, alive, always interesting, sometimes dangerous, and messy — but always full of unforgettable adventures. Naturally, the city’s celebrated neighborhoods have captured the eye of countless filmmakers over the years and provide an unbeatable backdrop.
New York’s streets of the city have been transformed into movie sets numerous times. In the article, we present the top 10 most iconic film and TV locations in NYC, and the films that were shot their.
Woody Allen’s 1979 film is an ode to his beloved city. The movie opens with iconic views and landmarks of Manhattan. Then, with that unforgettable prologue, Woody Allen pays tribute to the landmarks of his native city:
“He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion… no, make that: he, he romanticized it all out of proportion. Yes. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin”
The opening scene features the infamous Empire Diner. Among many locations that Woody Allen used as a film set, the Empire Diner is one of the most iconic. The retro-style restaurant is situated at 210 Tenth Avenue, on West 22nd Street in Chelsea, Manhattan. The Empire Diner was almost abandoned in 1976, but the new owners saw the potential. Once greasy diner soon became one of the upscale retro diners and the city’s landmark that hosted numerous films and television programs.
Brooklyn is one of the primary locations for the TV show “Younger,” which has recently premiered its latest season. “Younger” is a hymn to the hipster part of New York – Williamsburg.
The show follows the story of Liza, a 40-years old from the suburbs of New Jersey. After a painful divorce, she tries to rebuild her career in New York, moves to her friend’s apartment in Brooklyn, and discovers all the perks the borough has to offer. The show was created by Darren Star (creator of Sex and the City). We know he loves New York, and “Younger” is more proof of that. Liza’s best friend, Maggie, has a massive apartment in trendy Williamsburg. Maggie claims she moved in years ago because she was broke and is now being priced out.
In real life, the apartment is located at 140 Metropolitan Avenue, a prime location in Williamsburg. That is the area where the famous movie theatre/restaurant Nitehawk is situated.
The building at 140 Metropolitan Avenue is divided into six full-floor units and features classic loft-style apartments and studios.
In the Heights
“In the Heights” is dedicated to life in one of the uppermost parts of Manhattan, Washington Heights. The movie premiered on June 10, 2021. It was released simultaneously in theaters and HBO Max. “In the Heights” is a movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical and was filmed entirely in the New York neighborhood. The colorful, emotional, and exuberant movie spans every corner from 155th Street to 193rd in the northernmost part of Manhattan. The sets are a mix of street scenes, bodegas, apartments, a hair salon, public parks, and even a swimming pool.
The principal photography for the entire movie was done in Washington Heights. The authentic ambiance was essential to the creators of the film.
“Shooting ‘In the Heights’ in the actual Heights was key to us, because the stories being told in the screenplay are intrinsic to the community. The streets were busy all day and at night until the wee hours. Music was coming out of boomboxes on corners, the windows of apartments, radios in cars, underscored with car and motorcycle engines revving. It really felt like what’s said in the movie, that the streets are alive with music. That hum, that energy pervaded the production and the performances. It seemed to make everyone come alive, but also rooted them to this place in realistic and romantic ways.” -said the producer of the movie.
One of the significant events in the movie takes place at “Abuelas apartment.” The apartment and Abuela Claudia herself are the heart of the community. The apartment’s real-life location is 532 175th Street, and is a row of townhouses. “Little details tell the world we are not invisible.”-says the character. And, for the designers, that meant to create detail-oriented interior elements.
The Flight Attendant
“The Flight Attendant” is a comedy-drama series from HBO max, based on a novel of the same name. Kaley Cuoco portrays Cassie Bowden, a reckless alcoholic flight attendant who wakes up in a hotel room in Bangkok, covered in blood, discovering a dead body next to her. She covers the crime scene and acts as if nothing has happened but starts investigating the mysterious death of Alex, her multi-millionaire one-night stand.
The show is set in different locations, but mostly it takes place in New York. Through the series, we see various landmarks of the city. For example, in episode 5, the production went to the prestigious Hudson Yards. In search of the clues, Cassie goes to deceased Alex’s apartment, located in Hudson Yards, with a view of the Vessel sculpture.
The address is meant to be 35 Hudson Yards, a luxurious apartment with incredible views and furnishing. In the show, they called it 31 Hudson Yards, which is actually the location of the Equinox Hotel.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Jordan Belfort, has a luxury penthouse in Midtown Manhattan, located on the 32nd floor of the Milan Condominium in Midtown East. With the stunning views of the East River. The spacious penthouse is more than 2,500 square feet, featuring wide plank oak flooring, a private terrace, and two fireplaces. In addition, 10-foot ceilings and wall of glass windows give the place plenty of natural light. It also has 200 square feet of outdoor living space.
110 Longfellow Avenue in Staten Island is a well-known address for the fans of Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” That is where the real “Godfather House” is located and not on the Long Island as the film states. The mansion almost looks the same up until now. The beautiful blockhouse served as an exterior for Don Corleone’s house. Al Pacino has walked through that door so many times that it still amuses the mansion’s new owners. Francis Ford Coppola filmed the interior shots in Filmways Studios, situated in Harlem, Manhattan.
If you love the horror genre, you probably have watched Roman Polanski’s 1968 film “Rosemary’s Baby.” The exterior shots for the apartment in which the story takes place were filmed in New York. The Dakota, the apartment building located on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West in the Upper Westside of Manhattan, serves as an exterior of “The Bramford.”
Dakota is a cooperative apartment building that was constructed between 1880 and 1884. It has been home to many artists, including John Lennon, who was murdered in the archway of the building in 1980. Dakota was also featured in Andre Piddington’s 2006 movie “Killing of John Lennon.”
The gothic-style luxury apartment building owned by The Green Goblin is a landmark that would capture your attention if you are a Marvel Universe fan. The charming apartment in Tudor city was filmed in all three movies. Its villain Norman Osborn called it his home. Of course, when you have an iconic building like that in the city, no CGI is needed. The building was mainly used for establishing shots for the Osborn mansion, and in the scenes, it was usually accompanied by thunder and lighting.
Manhattan has long been home to the Marvel Universe’s superheroes. Many of them tend to live in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan and Marvel’s one of the strongest superheroes, Jessica Jones, resides here too. In the TV show created for Netflix, the Marvel Comics character has an at-home office called “Alias Investigation.” In one of the episodes, Jessica calls 911, and she tells her address – the fifth floor at 485 West 46th Street. She had a grimy one-bedroom apartment, a perfect hide-out from the show’s villain, Killgrave.
Sex and the City
This list cannot be completed without the iconic townhouse located on 66 Perry Street in West Village. The beautiful building served as exterior shots for Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment. The fans of the series come to this location from all over the world. Some even say that Carrie’s apartment is the fifth main character of the popular HBO show. The iconic steps and door Carrie Has walked many times in real life is located in Lower Manhattan and not in Upper Eastside as the show states. On the show, we are led to believe that Carrie lives on the Upper East Side at 245 E. 73rd Street. However, there is no such building at that address.
A few weeks ago, Sarah Jessica Parker posted pictures from Perry street notifying fans that filming for the special reunion of The Sex and the City is already in progress.
Ruska Giorgadze is a journalist and film critic with 10-plus years of experience in broadcast and press journalism. She has a Master of Mass Communications.