New York City can easily be touted as the Hollywood of the east coast, and it’s not hard to see why: countless films and television shows have been filmed across the city (including some of the most famous works of American cinema to date), New York is home to four major film and television production studios, and New York boasts its own museum dedicated to the art of motion pictures! If you’ve ever seen a movie or TV show set in New York City and dreamed of living the same life as your favorite characters, you’re in luck; not only has New York Habitat has compiled a guide to some of the most iconic film locations across the Big Apple so you can follow in the footsteps of your favorite movies, but we also have some stunning furnished apartment rentals nearby to immerse you in the experience of being on the silver screen! If you don’t see your favorite New York film featured here, be sure to check out our first film blog outlining six famous movie locations in Manhattan, and the upcoming part 2, which will explore the other four boroughs! New York cinema has spanned the entire city over the years, so be sure not to miss a single site on your walk through cinema history.
1. Movies in Manhattan- Downtown and Midtown
Our tour begins in downtown Manhattan, home to the Financial District and the heart of the city’s business sector. In the 1987 film Wall Street, you will find many shots of the Financial District and the eponymous street. The Financial District is also adjacent to the city’s Civic Center, home to the New York State Supreme Court Building. You can stand on the stone steps of this gorgeous 20th century Roman-style courthouse and be in the center of the action of a number of pivotal film and television scenes, including Miracle on 34th Street, 12 Angry Men, Goodfellas, Law & Order and the famous assassination scene from The Godfather. When you stand in the streets of the Financial District surrounded by its formidable stone buildings, it’s easy to see why it has been the setting of so many dramatic and powerful moments in film!
Speaking of The Godfather, no tour of New York cinema is complete without mentioning gangster films. New York City exists alongside Chicago as one of the most prominent backdrops for the classic American film genre. Step into the setting of numerous mobster film scenes in the enclave neighborhood of Little Italy, just a bit further uptown. Scenes from The Godfather parts 1 and 2 were filmed on location in the neighborhood, as well as Mean Streets, directed by Little Italy native Martin Scorsese. Besides being a great destination for Italian food lovers, the neighborhood features classic red-brick apartment buildings straight out of the period films!
In the heart of Little Italy, you can find the perfect apartment rental to complement your love of film! This furnished alcove studio apartment features some of the classic red exposed brick for which the neighborhood is famous, right there in the living room! You can play the part of a native of Little Italy as you lounge out in the leather-style furniture, try your hand at preparing a pasta dish in the full open kitchen, and admire the decorative brick fireplace that hearkens back to the neighborhood’s roots. At the end of the day, any film lover will enjoy watching their favorite gangster movie on the flat-screen TV surrounded by the atmosphere of the framed film posters on the walls.
Venture further up in Manhattan and you will find two of the most filmed locations in NYC; the iconic Times Square and Central Park! Midtown New York, including Times Square, is an instantly recognizable location within in the city that has been prominently featured in countless films, from classics like Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver, to more recent favorites like Enchanted, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and as a post-apocalyptic desolation in the Will Smith movie I Am Legend. If you want to visit a film location that’s a little less obvious, you can also visit the former site of the Copacabana Nightclub at 10 E. 60th Street in Midtown. Though the club reopened in Times Square in 2011, this building was the one used in the setting and on-location filming of various famous films including Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Tootsie and The French Connection. Walk around the exterior of the building and feel that classic Hollywood glamour wash over you!
Also accessible from Midtown is Central Park, a consistent favorite destination of ours that is also a favorite destination of cinematographers. The park is visually appealing for its lush greenery, stone bridges and footpaths, and the romantic sight of rowboats drifting around on the lake in front of the Loeb Boathouse! The movies have seized the romantic atmosphere of Central Park to film classic romantic comedies and family films, like When Harry Met Sally and 27 Dresses, as well as a sweet scene in the aforementioned Enchanted. When it’s not being used for its gorgeous verdant setting, though, Central Park has also been used in some pretty intense film scenes, including the unsettling ending of 2008’s Cloverfield.
You can match your apartment to your exploration of Central Park’s film history in this sweet room for rent in a 2-bedroom shared apartment! The apartment is furnished with luxe details throughout like pottery, artwork and elegant drapes to complement the classic furniture style. The room for rent is decorated in rosy hues of beige and lavender and is outfitted with a double bed. The bedroom even comes with its own personal television, perfect for watching movies in bed! If you want to get out and see the cinematic sites in Central Park yourself, you’re in luck—this apartment is also a short 480-meter walk from the park itself.
2. Movies in Manhattan: Classic cinema further uptown
Just a little further uptown and bordering Central Park are two of Manhattan’s most sought-after neighborhoods: the Upper East Side and Upper West Side. This section of Manhattan is known for its high-society feel, luxury shopping, classic brownstone and marble facades and its highbrow culture—some of the most famous museums in the United States can be found here along the Museum Mile. It should come as no surprise, then, that this area is a perfect destination to walk in the footsteps of some classic moments on the silver screen. Perhaps the most iconic film shot on the Upper East Side is 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s featuring Audrey Hepburn in her famous role as Holly Golightly. You can stroll the same streets as Holly and peer into the exact Tiffany & Co. shop window that is featured in the opening scene of the film at E. 57th Street and 5th Avenue. Be sure to do some other window shopping around the fabulous designer boutiques in the area; black dress, gloves and pearls not required!
A fan of the posh Breakfast at Tiffany’s deserves an equally posh apartment, and you’ll find it in this 1-bedroom furnished rental! This apartment strikes a charming balance between luxurious and kooky, just like Holly herself. You’ll feel like royalty sleeping in the gilded double bed underneath a crystalline chandelier, surrounded by stylish furniture and artwork. The apartment actually has a second bedroom, but as any fashionista would do, it has been converted into a walk-in closet perfect for storing the spoils of any spontaneous shopping trip! The living area features a sectional sofa to lounge upon and a dining table to enjoy meals from the full kitchen with ample counter space. Perfectly suited to its location in the Upper East Side, this apartment is one that any socialite would love!
On the other side of the island, explore the neighborhood of the Upper West Side, known for its tree-lined streets, cultural diversity, and family-friendly atmosphere. Intellectuals and artists will love the neighborhood as well, as it is home to three world-renowned schools: Columbia University, the Barnard School and the Juilliard School. The distinguished Columbia University features a beautifully well-groomed quad, the keen appearance of which has attracted filmmakers to shoot various scenes from movies like Spider-Man (2002) and Still Alice and television shows like Gossip Girl.
The last place to check out in a film tour of Manhattan is Harlem, one of the northernmost neighborhoods in the borough. The 1961 movie musical West Side Story, famous for its inclusion of Latin and jazz musical influences, was based across the Upper West Side and Harlem. While a good portion of the movie was filmed on a set, famous sequences like the opening scene were filmed on location in Harlem. East Harlem, also known as “El Barrio,” is famous for its traditionally Latin American demographics and influence, and as you walk around, you can get an authentic sense of the neighborhood that Puerto Rican immigrants like the fictional Sharks established. You can even see the lot where the famous “dance fight” opening sequence was filmed at 110th Street and 3rd Avenue! While you’re in the area, be sure to look around at the classic brick buildings and their wrought-iron fire escapes, a setting for one of the most romantic scenes in the movie: the duet between star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria.
If you’d like to live in this exciting and diverse neighborhood of Manhattan, this cozy room for rent in a 3-bedroom apartment in Harlem may be a great choice for you. It doesn’t get much more authentic than this apartment’s proximity to East Harlem and its affinity for global décor. The bright colors of the costumes and cinematography of West Side Story are vibrantly translated into this apartment, which features a bright yellow accent wall in the living room, ample seating, and plenty of artwork. In your room for rent, cultured types will love the bookshelves overflowing with things to read, and the cheery light wood floors brighten the space. Finally, the room’s window overlooks the backyard gardens of the apartments below, making it a perfect secluded place to relax.
Manhattan has been so prominently featured in popular culture that it would be impossible to mention every movie and TV show filmed here, but we hope this list is a good start! Be sure to stay tuned for the second part of this blog in which we will explore iconic filming locations from the other four boroughs. In the meantime, you can start planning a New York trip straight out of the movies by browsing our furnished rentals, both on our website and on our Instagram and Facebook page! Did we miss a location from your favorite film? Leave us a comment below!