For as long as movies have been filmed, New York City has been considered a go-to location to shoot, serving as a backdrop to some of film’s most acclaimed scenes. Its busy streets and diverse population and architecture, combined with incentives from the city to entice filmmakers to shoot their movies in New York City, make it the premier location to bring any screenplay to life.
While some of the more obvious attractions like the Statue of Liberty and Times Square have been featured in some of film’s most famous movie scenes, there are many more “untapped” locations throughout the city that have become synonymous with the title of “famous movie locations.”
1. Lexington Avenue and 52nd street
In this Sept. 9, 1954 file photo, Marilyn Monroe poses over the updraft of a New York subway grating while in character for the filming of “The Seven Year Itch” in New York.(AP Photo/Matty Zimmerman, file). Photo in public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
On September 15, 1954, at the corner of Lexington Ave. and 52nd St., photographers and press alike were invited to take pictures during the filming of The Seven Year Itch starring Marilyn Monroe to create buzz for the upcoming film. With crowds of cameras, and a growing crowd of passing fans, mostly male, viewers were treated to what would become not only one of the most memorable movie scenes of all time, but one of the most famous photographs as well.
Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve probably seen the picture of Marilyn’s dress blowing up due to a passing subway below her feet. Viewed as scandalous at the time, it took fourteen tries for directer Billy Wilder to get the shot he wanted due to the group of male viewers that cheered whenever the actress’ dress would move. Eventually, they would settle for re-shooting the scene in a studio in California.
Although the subway grate that Marilyn stood on has been changed several times in the years following the filming, that hasn’t changed the sense of familiarity and history about the corner. Even today, many film buffs still travel to New York City and recreate the iconic scene on the unmarked grate for fun, draped in the famous white dress and all.