Photo: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

The story about the Central Park Five, told in its latest rendition in Netflix’s When They See Usfrom filmmaker Ava DuVernay, is as relevant today as 1989, when the real-life events unfolded. You have racial profiling, police brutality, an eager Donald Trump looking to make a splash in the media, a large gap between the haves and have nots in New York City, and the underpinnings of today’s movements like Black Lives Matter. Perhaps what has changed the most is the drastic “cleaning up” of the city that begin in the 1990s – from the subways, to the parks, to the streets.

When They See Us, a dramatic series follows Ken Burns’ documentary, The Central Park Five, and tells the story from the perspective of the five teenage boys – Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, and Kevin Richardson – who were tried, wrongly convicted, and exonerated in 2002 when Matias Reyes, the real perpetrator of a brutal rape and beating of Trisha Meili, a 28-year old jogger in Central Park confessed and was tied to the crime through his DNA.

With the cleaning up of the city comes a particular challenge for filmmakers in terms of filming locations. How do you recreate a New York City that no longer exists but still remain true to the identity and soul of a neighborhood? It’s clear that capturing the essence of the experience the boys went through was critical to DuVernay, who filmed the entire four part series on location in New York City – a large part of it in Harlem – over the course of 66 days. The five now-grown men and their families were on set during filming to answer questions and be part of the process, according to an article in Vanity Fair.

Without further ado, here are the places shown and represented in When They See Us.

1. The Heritage

Photo: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

On the corner of Central Park North and 110th Street, two octagonal concrete towers dominant the northeast corner of Central Park. Built in 1975 as Mitchell-Lama housing as part of the Arthur A. Schomberg Plaza at Frawley Circle, the Heritage as the buildings are now called was planned as a mixed-income housing project.

Photo: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

The Heritage buildings appear in several scenes in When They See Us. In the pivotal opening sequence, when Ray is heading to Shareen’s party and his group comes across a larger crew, the combined group heads up to an elevated public terrace accessible from 111th Street. Later, we’re back here when we see Yusef, his mother and their reverend get out of the car to return home after making bail and are accosted by reporters. One asks if they have any response to Donald Trump calling for the death penalty as he did in the four pages of ads he took out in four New York newspapers at a cost of $85,000.  And in the last episode, a press conference takes place on the plaza with the five grown men.

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