The 21 Most Iconic Film Locations in New York City
One of the world's most photogenic cities, New York City has plenty of photo and film rentals available. The city has also provided the backdrop for some of Hollywood's most iconic moments. There's another reason the city features so prominently in film - NYC is a hub of culture and visual entertainment. So that said, let's take a look at the city's most iconic film locations. How many of these have you seen on screen before?
1. New York Public Library
This is definitely one of the most iconic of NYC filming locations, having set the scene for hundreds of productions – TV and film, both – including TV shows like Glee, Person of Interest, Seinfeld and The Newsroom as well as tons of movies such as The Day After Tomorrow, Ghostbusters, Sex and the City, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and so many more. Even if you haven’t been there in person, looking at a photograph of this building will definitely bring back memories of the location.
2. Times Square
Times Square is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable film locations not just in New York, but anywhere in the world. The area was featured prominently in early films such as Midnight Cowboy from 1969, Born to Win from 1971 and Taxi Driver from 1976. More recently, it’s been featured in Godzilla, the Ghostbusters movies, Captain America: The First Avenger, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the 2002 film Spider-Man. It is truly one of the most quintessential New York City filming locations.
3. Radio City Music Hall
Built on a plot of land originally intended for a Metropolitan Opera House, the Radio City Music Hall is located at 1260 Avenue of the Americas within Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan. It was designed by Edward Durell Stone and Donald Deskey in the Art Deco style – possibly why it’s so popular for filming TV shows such as Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! And Saturday Night Live and films such as Home Alone 2 and The Godfather.
4. Firehouse, Hook and Ladder Company 8
Located in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, Hook and Ladder 8 is a New York Fire Department fire station whose exterior has become absolutely famous as the base of the Ghostbusters. It was about to be shut down in 2011 but was saved by a public campaign supported by Steve Buscemi and Bill de Blasio (who would later become mayor of NYC).
5. Empire State Building
Yet another universally recognizable filming location, the Empire State Building has been a top destination for Hollywood movies since 1931, having been featured in more than 250 movies and productions. The most popular and recognizable scene shot here was undoubtedly the one in King Kong all the back from 1933, besides in hundreds of others as part of New York City establishing shots. Being one of the iconic buildings of the New York skyline, it is featured in pretty much any film that shows New York.
6. The Unisphere
A spherical, stainless steel representation of the Earth, the Unisphere in Queens, New York City, was commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age. It has been used as the setting for many films and productions, and notably multiple Marvel movies such as Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
7. The Grand Central Terminal
This one would definitely bring back memories from your favorite films and TV series – the Grand Central Station in New York. According to IMDb, 88 titles have it in their film location credits, most notably Revolutionary Road (2008), Men in Black (1997) and Men in Black II (2002). The earliest movie shot here was Mr. Jones Has a Card Party, a short film from 1909 – that’s over a hundred years ago!
8. The Rockefeller Center
This location has been featured in many films, including Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Autumn in New York. It has also been the site for filming many TV shows, most notably Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock.
9. Central Park
Another quintessential New York City location, Central Park is one of the most popular locations to shoot in New York. It’s played host to more than a hundred movies all the way back since 1908 and can be easily recognized when you see it on screen. Some of the most notable films shot here are The Avengers, Ghostbusters, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and When Harry Met Sally.
10. Brooklyn Bridge
There’s arguably a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge in every movie set in the city of New York. Spiderman, Fantastic Four, I Am Legend, Cloverfield, Godzilla, The French Connection… enough said.
11. Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty was unveiled in 1886 and has since become absolutely iconic. It appeared in films as early as 1917 in Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant and has continued to appear in countless films, TV shows, music videos and even videogames. Some of the most notable films that feature it are Cloverfield, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, The Day After Tomorrow and Ghostbusters II. The statue is symbolic not just for New York, but for the country of the United States of America in general.
12. American Museum of Natural History
This museum is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and is the largest natural history museum in the world – comprising 26 interconnected buildings with 45 permanent exhibition halls, as well as a planetarium and a library – making it the perfect location to host all kinds of film and photo shoots (so much space!). It comes as no surprise that it played host to some of the most iconic movies and TV shows we’ve seen today – Night at the Museum, The Devil Wears Prada, Malcolm X – just to name a few.
13. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Being the largest art museum in the United States, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met, contains more than two million artworks in its permanent collection. Aside from its art, it’s also well known in popular media for The Met Gala or the Met Ball, an annual fundraising gala attended by the who’s who of United States high society. With its charming front facade it is a sought-after film location, featuring films such as Hitch, I Am Legend and When Harry Met Sally.
14. The Plaza Hotel
According to this Forbes article, The Plaza is arguably New York’s most movie-centric hotel. A landmark 20-story luxury hotel from 1907, The Plaza is located in Manhattan and extends along Central Park South. The most iconic movie moment here was in Home Alone 2, with Donald Trump even making a cameo in the scene. Other films shot here include North by Northwest, The Way We Were, The Front, Sleepless in Seattle, Bride Wars and The Great Gatsby, besides Eloise at The Plaza.
15. Katz' Deli
Katz’ Deli isn’t like other delis – aside from providing delicious sandwiches it provides a one-of-a-kind experience since it was the setting for many iconic films and movies. The most iconic of all scenes shot here is undoubtedly from When Harry Met Sally, the 1989 romantic comedy that catapulted Meg Ryan into the status of “America’s Sweetheart”. Other films shot here include Donnie Brasco, Across the Universe, Enchanted and We Own The Night.
16. Coney Island
Coney Island has been in movies all the way back from 1897, starting with early movies by Edison Manufacturing, to as recently as 2017 in Wonder. Other movies filmed here include Spider-Man: Homecoming, Cloverfield, and Push.
17. Sutton Place Park
Even though Sutton Place Park was actually a meeting place for some very dangerous gangs in the late 80s, a super romantic scene in Woody Allen and Gordon Willis’ Manhattan was filmed there.
18. Tiffany and Company
The flagship store of Tiffany & Co. has been located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 57th Street in Manhattan since 1940 and has played host as the location for a number of films, most notably Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sweet Home Alabama. Its polished granite exterior and extravagant window displays make it instantly recognizable.
19. Verrazano Narrows Bridge
This is the bridge, on a bench under which Tony in Saturday Night Fever had a date – the same bridge that Tony and his friends ritually stop on to clown around.
20. Calvary Cemetary
The Calvary Cemetary is a Roman Catholic cemetery in Queens, established in 1848 and covering 365 acres of land. It’s popular in cinema for being the location where Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather was buried.
21. Cafe Lalo
Finally, we have Cafe Lalo. Nicknamed The Star Cafe, this cafe played host as the location for multiple romantic dinners in movies and TV. The most notable of them all has got to be the scene in You’ve Got Mail in which Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, who met via email meet for the first time in person at this cafe.
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