If there’s one city that stands as the capital for culture in the United States (and quite possibly the world), it’s New York City. Maybe that’s why the Big Apple has been the backdrop for some of Hollywood’s greatest films. From Times Square to Central Park, the city’s varied neighborhoods provide a rich tapestry of settings for inventive filmmakers. Some of history’s greatest movie minds have passed through New York’s streets and lent their vision to the city’s storied past. Here are just a couple of the movies that have taken place in the world’s greatest town.
1. The Seven Year Itch
Billy Wilder’s 1955 comedy isn’t really about Marilyn Monroe. It’s about the feelings of restlessness that attack some men deep into their marriages. But, you could hardly convince anyone of that these days, because the shot of Marilyn Monroe fighting the breeze from an amorous subway grate is pretty much the only thing people remember about the film. Still, that one shot (filmed at 586 Lexington) stands as one of the most iconic shots in film history.
2. The Godfather
In The Godfather, New York is nearly as an important a character as young Michael Corleone, or the jowly head honcho himself. The city plays host to several locations that steered the epic saga on its course. While several of the film’s locations were lost to time, most of them are still in good working order. If you’re a fan of one of modern cinema’s greatest stories, then it’s worth it to check out the list.
3. Do The Right Thing
Don’t get jumpy if you decide to visit the filming location of Spike Lee’s controversial masterpiece Do the Right Thing. Not only has Brooklyn been overrun by harmless hipsters in the two decades since the film was shot, but the current inhabitants of Brooklyn’s most famous block are thrilled to welcome tourists looking to experience a little slice of movie history. In the years since the film has been released, the small block that Lee used to film has been renamed “Do The Right Thing Way”.
It’s at the end of one of Woody Allen’s meandering, truthful, inspired conversations that he and Diane Keaton fall onto a park bench overlooking the 59th Street Bridge (the same one that Paul Simon visited when he was “Feelin’ Groovy”). The iconic location is one of the myriad spots throughout New York on which Woody Allen has turned his camera. The man’s career is basically a love note to the city. In a filmography filled with loving tribute, this location stands out among the rest.
If you go to pretty much any location in New York City, you can bet that at one point the geniuses who gifted us with Ghostbusters were there to film a scene. Tavern on the Green? Check. New York Public Library? Check. Times Square. Checkerino. Columbia University. Yep, there, too. There’s one location, though, that the film put on the map, and that’s the HQ, which is just a short walk from the Franklin Street Station. No film lover’s trip to New York is complete without it.
6. Death Wish
One of the most iconic action films ever put on celluloid, Death Wish locations can be spotted throughout the city. Perhaps the most famous, though, is Riverside Park, the place where vigilante Paul Kersey guns down three assailants. Riverside Park has also hosted more than one film set, including two scenes from the cult classic The Warriors.
What’s more fun that visiting a toy store? Visiting a toy store with a big freaking piano, that’s what. Used in Tom Hank’s breakout film, Big, the giant piano at FAO Schwartz’s flagship store is still open for guests to hammer out a tune on their tip toes. And, hey, once you’re done, you’re still in one of the world’s best toy stores. Go ahead and indulge your inner child – or your real child if your brought the kids.
8. When Harry Met Sally
You know the scene in When Harry Met Sally with Rob Reiner’s mom? You know, the one where Meg Ryan has her … outburst? If you’ve seen the film (or you’ve been alive since 1990), you know what I’m talking about. The iconic scene was filmed at Katz’s Delicatessen, a real place with a knockout reuben. Get there early to avoid the line.
9. Night At the Museum
The interiors of the famous American Museum of Natural History weren’t used in Night at the Museum (something about not wanting their exhibits to get destroyed) but the set interiors were recreated faithfully enough. If nothing else, after admiring the building’s impressive edifice, you can head inside and check out the big blue whale featured in The Squid and the Whale.
10. Central Park
Not content to travel from location to location for just a one film payoff? Then head straight to the source, the most filmed location in the entire world: Central Park. The world’s most famous park has a storied history and exceptional views, so nary a case needs to be made for it. We’ll just play ourselves out with a scant selection of the films that have been shot in part in the park: The Avengers, Get Him to the Greek, Sex in the City, Elf, Two Weeks Notice and Almost Famous. And those are just the movies that have been released since 2000. You’ll have deja vu walking through there even if it’s your first visit.