If you’ve been watching the second season of the Amazon series Man in the High Castle, you might have noticed an odd appearance of one of New York City’s most iconic skyscrapers: the Woolworth Building. Man in the High Castle reimagines an alternate future for the United States if the Allied Forces had lost World War II. Washington D.C. has been obliterated by an atomic bomb and the East Coast is occupied by the Greater Nazi Reich, with its capital in New York City. The West Coast is occupied by the Japanese, headquartered in San Francisco, and the center of the country is called the Neutral Zone.
We covered the New York City film locations for Man in the High Castle in the first season after it premiered in 2015. On the production end of the show, the showrunner left early in the the second season and fxilming locations were consolidated to the West Coast. As such, there aren’t as many actual or obvious film locations New York City in the second season but there is a good amount of CGI work to digitally show the locations of key spots in the series, particularly the SS Headquarters.
As we mentioned in the first season, the SS Headquarters is located on Manhattan along the East River, in the current location of the United Nations. Demolishing the United Nations and replacing it with the headquarters of the SS would have been an appropriate symbolic move for the new occupiers. But in the second season, the show takes more liberties with the location of the SS Headquarters relative to the actual built environment in Manhattan.
The same establishing shot of the SS Headquarters, showing the Queensboro Bridge and Roosevelt Island (with the Goldwater Hospital still standing even though it was already demolished when the show premiered), is still shown in the second season. A new shot shows the Citigroup Building on Long Island City across the East River, which makes sense. But in the ninth episode, a new establishing shot appears with a curious addition along the waterfront: a squashed Woolworth Building.
The Woolworth Building was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1912 and it was so important that President Woodrow Wilson symbolically turned the lights on from a button in Washington D.C. on opening day, April 24, 1913.
The Woolworth Building that appears in Man in the High Castle is very squat, clearly compressed down and far shorter than the SS Headquarters. But its essential architectural elements are still obvious: a Gothic terra cotta facade with vertically accentuated piers that rise to the building’s bronze crown. There’s a central tower, surrounded by two flanks that rise only to about halfway. But the original Woolworth Building is located on Broadway across from City Hall, far away from this location along the Midtown East waterfront. So unless the Nazis have built shorter, less architecturally notable Woolworth Building copy…
For the most part however, the show fairly accurately shows the location of SS Headquarters relative to landmarks shown in the show, like Central Park, Roosevelt Island, and others.
Check out more film locations in Man in the High Castle.