Start spreading the news: New York City is a great place to hold a scavenger hunt of sorts, where instead of collecting treasures, you collect memories and snapshots of locations featured in famous movies and TV shows.
The city is the setting for so many beloved TV series like Friends, Sex And The City, Seinfeld and Gossip Girl, as well as blockbusters like the Avengers, Night At the Museum and Ghostbusters. And let’s not forget classics like Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Fame, Taxi Driver and West Side Story.
Spider-Man: Far From Home, a new production in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), is the latest film to feature the city that never sleeps (Spider-Man originated from New York, after all). The movie is currently playing in cinemas nationwide.
If you’re planning a trip to New York, be sure to check out at least a couple of these filming locations, located throughout the city’s five burroughs:
For sitcom fans
Friends was primarily filmed in a studio in Los Angeles (New York is an expensive place to film in, by the way), the apartment that Monica Geller, Rachel Green, Phoebe Buffay, Ross Geller, Chandler Bing and Joey Tribbiani spend most of their time in is a real building. The place is located on the corner of Bedford St and Grove St. Nearby there is a Mediterranean restaurant called The Little Owl – this is where the show’s famous Central Perk cafe is supposed to be.
The neighbourhood is surrounded by a number of off-Broadway theatres like The Lucille Lortel Theater, where Joey sometimes performs.
How I Met Your Mother
Maclaren’s, the pub where the How I Met Your Mother gang hangs out almost every night for nine seasons, is actually called McGee’s in real life. You can find it in midtown Manhattan, where you can order some HIMYM-themed fare like the TedMosbyIsAJerk.com wrap or the Pineapple Incident.
You can also head to the 21 Club restaurant in Manhattan, which serves New York’s best burger, at least according to the show’s character, Marshall.
If you’re really adventurous, try the Long Island Rail Road drunk train, which was featured in Season 7. The drunk train is usually the 2.39am train to Wantagh in Long Island. Lily describes the drunk train as a cabin full of “drunk, sloppy idiots fresh off a night of partying in the city just desperate to hook up with anything that moves.” Fun.
“30 Rock” is actually the nickname for 30 Rockefeller Centre, a famous skyscraper in New York’s Manhattan. NBC Studios is located at the centre, hence the show’s name. In 30 Rock, a group of mismatched entertainment creatives led by Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), run a sketch comedy show called TGS With Tracy Jordan.
If you’re in New York, join The Tour at NBC Studios, where you will be given a behind-the-scenes look at 30 Rock as well as Saturday Night Live, which has been filming there since 1975.
A large Christmas tree is erected each year – usually around the third week of November – outside the building, just by the ice skating rink. This rink has also been featured in many movies and TV shows.
One look at Tom’s Restaurant in Manhattan and the bass tab from Seinfeld immediately plays in the mind of any fan. In the show, Jerry Seinfeld and gang would often eat at a place called Monk’s Diner, which is Tom’s in real life. Apparently, former US president Barack Obama also used to frequent the place when he was a student at Columbia University.
Then there is the The Original Soupman, where one of TV’s most famous lines, “No soup for you!”, was uttered by the “Soup Nazi” in Seinfeld. The soup restaurant is located in a few places in New York.
If soup is not for you, then head to Grey’s Papaya to eat the best hot dogs in the city. This is a claim made not just by Kramer in the show, but by many real-life New Yorkers too.
When Harry Met Sally
Thirty years after Sally (played by Meg Ryan) faked an orgasm at a booth in Katz’s Delicatessen on New York’s Lower East Side, fans of When Harry Met Sally can still have what she’s having at the very same shop. Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally also dined at the elegant Cafe Luxembourg, which still exists today.
After all that eating, go for a lovely stroll at Washington Square Park, where Sally tells Harry to “have a nice life” at the beginning of the movie.
You’ve Got Mail
Boy, that Meg Ryan really does love her city-themed romantic comedies. In this 1990s hit, Ryan and Tom Hanks’ characters shared scenes at locations like the “most famous cafe in the city”, Cafe Lalo on the Upper West Side, Zabar’s market and the 91st Street Garden.
Climb the steps of The Met on Fifth Avenue, where Blair and gang of Gossip Girl had their lunch breaks, or walk to the Museum of the City of New York, which was disguised as the Constance Billard and St Jude Schools in the show. Gossip Girl characters Chuck Bass and the Van der Woodsen family live at the super posh Lotte New York Palace, located near the Grand Central Terminal.
Sex And The City
Once upon a time, young women all over the world wished they lived the lives of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte in the vibrant, fashionable city of New York. If you’re up for some high-priced retail therapy, head to the Greenwich Village boutiques the ladies of Sex And The City usually frequent, or snack on some delicious-looking cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery.
There are four Avengers movies in the MCU, and New York features prominently in all of them. Heck, Tony Stark’s Stark Tower is actually the skyscraper 4 Times Square, located in the popular tourist destination, Times Square.
The famous Battle Of New York scene from the first film took place all over the city, but most of the action was centred in Manhattan. Grand Central Terminal, where some of the superheroes first meet their alien attackers, is a wonderful place you can go to experience true New York life.
The historic Chrysler Building appears in three Avengers films, while Central Park appears twice.
Gotham City, where the Caped Crusader lives, may be a fictional place but it is said to be located within New York City. Bruce Wayne’s Wayne Enterprises runs from One Liberty Plaza, which is near the World Trade Centre in Manhattan.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman has an epic showdown with Bane on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange. We suggest you take a cool photo on the same steps wearing a Batman (or Bane) costume if you’re going anytime this year, as the character celebrates his 80th birthday.
The Web Slinger is a true New Yorker. He lives in the city, saves lives in the city, falls in love in the city. In the very first Spider-Man film (2002) starring Tobey Maguire, Peter Parker saves his love interest MJ from the Green Goblin in Times Square, and fought the villain on Roosevelt Island.
In the same movie, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are also featured.
Ghosts, aliens, crooks
Did you know that that there is a Ghostbusters Experience exhibit at Madame Tussauds New York? Visitors can “fight” ghosts just like characters in the original 1984 movie through a hyperreality experience.
If you’re not into that, then head over to the Hook & Ladder Company 8 firehouse aka the Ghostbusters headquarters. This is a working firehouse, though, so you might not want to stand in anybody’s way when there is an emergency.
Meanwhile, the film’s Spook Central is located at 55 Central Park West. This is where Dana (Sigourney Weaver) lives, and where the portal to the other realm lies. There is also the New York Public Library, where the team encounters its first ghost.
Men In Black
Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) of the franchise’s original film series fight aliens all over the city’s five boroughs.
Agent J captures his first ever alien in the Guggenheim Museum on the Upper East Side, while both agents save the world from impending doom by exposing a spaceship that had been hidden somewhere on the World Expo Observatory Towers in Corona Park, Queens, for decades.
The latest instalment in the Ocean’s film franchise shows The Met, where the Costume Institute Gala takes place annually. You can also visit the TWA Flight Centre at JFK Airport, where the movie’s fashion show scene was filmed; and the Cartier Mansion on Fifth Avenue which houses the treasure that Ocean’s team is after.
Home Alone 2
Who doesn’t love Kevin McAllister, the precocious boy left behind by his family while they went on holiday one winter? In the movie’s sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, Kevin accidentally boards a plane to New York City after losing sight of his father at the airport.
In the city, Kevin has the time of his life! He checks in to The Plaza Hotel, one of New York’s most luxurious properties, has fun at Duncan’s Toy Chest (FAO Schwartz in real life), watches a show at the Carnegie Hall and meets a strange character in Central Park.
There’s also a heartwarming scene involving his family at the Rockefeller Centre.
Night At The Museum
For some of us, this Ben Stiller blockbuster helped to revive a love of museums. The American Museum of Natural History in New York provides the setting for this film, although visitors are not allowed to roam free in it after 5.45pm.
Still, you can still go for a look through before that; the museum is open daily. Make a list of the “characters” that appeared in the movie, and look for them in the museum to make your visit more fun.
The Muppets/Sesame Street
No, we can’t tell you how to get to Sesame Street but we can direct you to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, to check out the Jim Henson Exhibition. This museum will give you a history lesson on Henson’s most famous creations, Sesame Street and The Muppets. From character sketches, scripts and clips to unseen footage, this museum celebrates Henson’s work and Legacy.
If you’re lucky, you could catch a taping of Sesame Street at the Kaufman Astoria Studios.
New York is also home to countless live television experiences and various film and TV festivals. Head to nycgo.com for more information.