Image via Wikimedia Commons
New York City has a plethora of prominent locations, landmarks and buildings that are widely known by people around the world through film and television – even more so after the ramping up of the Made in NY program that offered incentives to encourage production right in the city.
While we often focus on locating more of the obscure film locations in current television and movies, we’re going back in time today to showcase some of the most iconic New York City spots that have appeared on the big screen:
WPA murals inside the banking hall at 20 Exchange Place
Other skyscrapers in the Financial District have received more attention in recent years, notably 70 Pine, but 20 Exchange was more than press-worthy when it opened. The building was completed in 1931 with state of the art conveniences, including “refrigerated water,” recessed radiators built into the structure, plate glass windows, telephone outlets. At the opening of 20 Exchange on February 24th, 1931, the building was deluged by visitors – an hourly average of 3,851 guests, reported the New York Times.
The Netflix Original Series The Get Down, brings the birth of the Hip Hop movement to life. Set in the summer of 1977 in the South Bronx, the series highlights the tense social climate of a decaying New York City, and the emergence of one of the most creative periods in American history.
The show focuses on Bronx high schooler Ezekiel “Zeke” Figuero, played by actor Justice Smith, and his group of neighborhood friends as they navigate their way through a broken city and stumble into the world of Hip Hop. Although most of the characters in the series are fictional and many locations are now gone, executive producer Baz Luhrmann does his best to pay homage to the era by selecting pivotal people of both the Hip Hop and street art movement, as well as using archival footage of New York City during that time. According to a Yahoo! interview with producer Nelson George, about 50% was filmed in the Bronx and the rest in a factory in Queens. Regardless, the show does a great job in telling the surprisingly unknown story of how Hip Hop came into the scene.
Here is a look at some historical film locations and settings so far seen in The Get Down:
The Night Of, a limited series on HBO, tells the fictional story of Queens resident and college student, Nasir Khan, and the repercussions of a single night in his life which brings the character unwittingly into the underworld of urban incarceration and New York City politics. English actor Riz Ahmed, who got his start as rapper Riz MC, plays Nasir, an earnest millennial and son of first generation Pakistani immigrants.
The Night Of is beautifully filmed and the show does a detailed job of using real locations and making sure they are where the show says they are. As New Yorkers, we appreciate that accuracy, as well as the touches in the script that make it clear that screenwriter Richard Price is a New Yorker. Price was born in the Bronx and many of his novels and films are set in the New York city region. The gritty opening sequence is further haunted by the presence of executive producer James Gandolfini, uses black and white aerial shots of New York City with key elements of the storyline pulled out for visual effect.
Without further ado, here are the notable film locations so far in The Night Of:
1970s-era street signs, storefronts and cars suddenly appeared in Crown Heights, Brooklyn this weekend for the upcoming film Wonderstruck, by director Todd Haynes (Carol, Far from Heaven, Mildred Pierce). The movie stars Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams and is based on the Brian Selznick novel of the same name.
West Side Story, members of The Sharks.
Musicals are intimately connected with New York City. Though many Broadway shows are set in far off places or fantastic lands, many have been set here, in our own backyard. Beginning with On the Town, some of these New York set musicals have used the City to provide a realistic backdrop to their filmed versions. (more…)