5. Church of St. Mary the Virgin on West 46th Street

Many will remember the 1980 film, Fame, for it’s introspective look of the difficulties of thriving in the performing arts, as well as the struggles of handling heavy issues such as drug use and abortion as adolescents. The film centered around a group of students attending a performing arts high school located on 46th st. While the film was very much set at the actual High School of Performing Arts, the filming was actually done at the then-vacant Church of Saint Mary the Virgin directly across the street. Why? The Board of Education denied their request to film at the school because of the content of the script, which means that in the film, any scenes showing the outside of the school is actually the outside of the church, including the well-known scene of the students dancing in the street and performing the number for the title song, “Fame.”

The French-Gothic style Episcopal church that now resides on 46th street was designed by architect Napoleon LeBrun and his firm and opened in 1894. “Smoky Mary’s,” as it is often called due to the incense used, is still in use today and was listed as a New York City landmark in 1989.