New York, New York: Iconic Film Locations

by Jules on November 1, 2013

Walking through the streets of New York can sometimes feel like being on a giant movie set. So many places have appeared in films and television series over the years that the city feels familiar, even on a first visit. So, if you’ve booked your flights to New York, here are a few of the most iconic film locations in the Big Apple.

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is such a part of New York that it’s hard to believe it was only two years old when it had a starring role in the 1933 film, ‘King Kong.’ The famous scene of a giant ape clinging to the Empire State Building is still a powerful image. Many romantic dramas have seen couples meeting on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Probably the best-known is ‘Sleepless in Seattle,’ in which Tom Hanks plays a grieving widower who is sent on a blind date that his young son organises via a radio phone-in. The scene has been copied and parodied onscreen many times since, from ‘Date Movie’ to ‘Gossip Girl,’ but the film was itself inspired by a 1957 film, ‘An Affair to Remember.’ This sees Cary Grant waits on the observation deck for Deborah Kerr, not knowing she has been in a car accident.

Central Park

The Boathouse Café, also known as the Loeb Boathouse, has been the setting for many screen meetings since it opened in 1954. ‘Harry Met Sally’ made it the setting for the scene where Meg Ryan meets her friends at the Boathouse, and in ‘27 Dresses’ Katherine Heigl wants it to be her wedding venue. It was a regular meeting place in Sex and the City, and Carrie and Mr Big fell into the water there. Bow Bridge, the cast iron bridge stretching over the lake, is also the location of countless movie meetings, from ‘The Way We Were’ to ‘Highlander.’ The beautiful ice rink that opens in the winter months, Wollman Rink, has featured in numerous films. John Cusack and Kate Beckingsale share romantic moments on the ice in ‘Serendipity’, and Wollman Rink played a key role in ‘Love Story.’

The Bethesda Fountain, with its ‘Angel of the Waters’ centrepiece, stands on the lower of the two levels of Bethesda Terrace. The Disney film ‘Enchanted’ set a big musical number there, while ‘Home Alone 2’ featured a chase around the fountain and terraces. These also appear in ‘The Avengers’, in ‘Friends with Benefits’ and in ‘Ransom,’ where Mel Gibson’s son is kidnapped at a science fair there. In ‘Elf,’ Santa’s sleigh knocks off part of the angel statue, and George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer take their children to play by the fountain in ‘One Fine Day.’ Another fountain, at Cherry Hill, looks very like the ‘Friends fountain’ where the six flatmates frolicked in the opening credits. That was filmed at a replica in Hollywood, however.


While Manhattan is home to many movie locations, a trip over the bridge to Brooklyn is the place to go for fans of ‘Saturday Night Fever.’ This iconic Seventies movie showed Tony Manero, played by John Travolta, lead a blue-collar life which was only relieved by nights strutting his stuff on the dance floor. The disco featured in the film is now sadly demolished, but many of the shops and restaurants from the film are still there, and a walk down 86th Street at Bay 20th Street in Bensonhurst will recreate the famous opening scene. The hardware store where Tony worked is still there, as is Lenny’s Pizza and the Phillips Dance Studio.

It is always worth checking before a visit to New York if any of your favourite films include scenes shot there. When you visit the city, it’s a real thrill to spot places that you have been to up on the big screen!

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