On Friday, Harlem residents were surprised to find brightly colored vintage cars straight out of the 60’s lining St. Nicholas Ave between 111th and 113th. The new remake of the classic musical, West Side Story, had outfitted the entire street for filming. Extras roamed the streets dressed in saddle shoes, fedoras, and retro floral dresses. A storefront on the southwest corner of 113th and St. Nicholas had been transformed into F. Hernandez Lavanderia, with a hanging sign on the left advertising in Spanish: “Limpieza en Seco…Servicio de Lavanderia de Media Hora.” Another actor pushed an old-fashioned cart down the sidewalk, reading “Pretzels 5 cents” down the side.

“F. Hernandez Lavanderia”, a set piece for the movie

An extra pushed a “Pretzels 5 Cents” cart

The film, set to be released in December of 2020, is looking to become the next Broadway-hit-turned-blockbuster, with Spielberg as director and starring Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) and up-and-comer Rachel Zegler as Tony and Maria, respectively. Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story took Broadway by storm as soon as it opened on stage way back in September of 1957. The story of star crossed lovers caught between two warring street gangs is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set in New York City. Since then it has accumulated a devoted following and has been produced on and off Broadway, as well as spreading to theaters around the world.

Most people are most familiar with the iconic film made four years later in 1961, that starred Natalie Wood as Maria and Richard Beymer as Tony. Much of the original movie was filmed, accurately, on the Upper West Side, around Amsterdam and 68th. Since then, the neighborhood has changed drastically and experienced its fair share of gentrification, leaving it less than plausible as the set of Tony and Maria’s urban romance. As a result, the new movie has settled on historic brownstones and charming small storefronts of Harlem as a main filming location. The film was spotted a few days ago shooting a dance number on East 131st Street between Fifth and Lenox, and seems to be moving closer to Central Park.

Next, check out NYC Filming Locations for Russian Doll on Netflix

2 thoughts on “Photos from the Harlem Set of Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story Remake

  1. “West Side Story” was originally shot in the condemned neighborhood where Lincoln Center now stands.

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