Leila in Grand Army Photo: MARNI GROSSMAN/NETFLIX © 2020

The new television show Grand Army on Netflix is set in and around Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza but the filming locations for the show are all over New York City and Toronto, Canada. The show is based off a play by Kate Capiello entitled Slut: The Play, based on the real-life experiences of teenage girls in the New York City area. Grand Army centers the action in the fictional Grand Army High School in Brooklyn.

Grand Army features a diverse cast that aims to reflect the makeup of New York City’s youth today. Grand Army High School is clearly a magnet school of some sort, bringing in students of all colors and backgrounds from all over the city. There’s no major focus at this high school, like many of New York City’s high schools, but what we have is a medley of archetypes that could reflect many schools in America — jocks, nerds, musicians, and more. Grand Army manages to give each a complex back story that also reflects what New York City is. Grand Army is a deft, no-holds barred look at complex issues like race, rape, and bullying that teenagers face today.

Sit in at Grand ArmyA sit-in during the show Grand Army. Photo: JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX © 2020

There’s Sid (played by Amir Bagaria), an Indian boy from Jackson Heights who is on the swim team but he’s struggling with his closeted sexuality while in a hetero relationship. After the bombing, he is also grappling with the racial repercussions of the terrorist attack for himself personally and the tensions that arise with the approach of his first-generation parents. There’s Leila Kwan Zimmer (played by Amalia Yoo who played Joey in the original play), a freshman who just arrived at the school and is struggling to fit in. She was adopted as a toddler by Jewish New Yorkers, but at Grand Army is struggling to fit in both with the Caucasian kids and the Chinese kids, who bully for not being really Chinese. Jayson and Owen are two talented saxophonists who get suspended due to a prank during the lockdown, with long-ranging repercussions.

Dominique playing basketballOdley Jean as Dom. Photo: JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX © 2020

The two lead characters in the ensemble show are Joey del Marco (played by Odessa A’zion) and Dominique “Dom” Pierre (played by Odley Jean, who also played this character in the play). Joey is the captain of the school dance team, dealing with her parents’ divorce and her father’s new relationship. She’s clearly the queen bee in school, but she’ll learn that a fall can be swift and brutal. Dom is a Haitian-American from East New York who is helping to raise her siblings and help the family make ends meet.

Joey and Tim in Grand ArmyOdessa A’zion as Joey del Marco (left) and Thelonius Serrell-Freed as Tim Delaney (right) Photo: JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX © 2020

Filming for Grand Army took place both in New York City and Toronto, that other city that often subs in for New York (although less frequently in recent years). Most of the street scenes and subway scenes are shot in New York City — giving the show an authentic New York City setting — but the school and other interiors are predominantly shot in Toronto. Here are some of Grand Army filming locations you might have seen or are wondering about.

1. Grand Army Plaza

Grand Army film locations at soldiers and sailors archPhoto: Image Courtesy of Netflix © 2020

A critical plot development early in the series is a terrorist bombing in Grand Army Plaza (no spoilers here, it’s mentioned in the description of the first episode). Before the event, we see Jayson and Owen walking the plaza and streets around the plaza, with the Soldiers and Sailors’ Arch in the background, the entrance to Prospect Park, and the Brooklyn Public Library. They run into John Ellis, who has cut out of school to have lunch with his mom. When the bombing happens, nobody in the school can locate him.

2. Grand Army High School

Grand Army High SchoolPhoto: SOPHIE GIRAUD/NETFLIX © 2020

If you’re looking for the brown Neoclassical building that is used as the filming location for Grand Army High School in the show, it doesn’t exist in Brooklyn. A school in Toronto was used both for the exterior and interior. However, when the students look out the window to see the bombing, you can see that Grand Army High School is meant to be located a few blocks from Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Heights (possibly on Underhill Avenue).

Looking closer at the bomb scene outside the window, the buildings don’t look to be accurate to the real neighborhood but rather a composite scene that includes the Soldiers and Sailors’ Arch and the Grand Army Plaza Oval. The shot after the students are let out of the school, as Joey, Anna, Tim, George and Luke walk down the street and look at the scene of the bombing is filmed from the northeast corner of Flatbush Avenue and Plaza Street East, but the Soldiers and Sailors’ Arch is basically photoshopped in to appear closer than it is in real life (and reversed in orientation with the sculptures on the arch facing north vs. south). These are details that don’t impact the story but are fun for us locals to dig into.

3. Upper East Side House Party

Grand Army filming locations Upper East Side house partyPhoto: JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX © 2020

The evening of the bomb, a lot of students from Grand Army attend a house party hosted at Park Avenue and 68th Street on the Upper East Side. As Joey and her friends walk up Park Avenue to the party, we see the Park Avenue Armory in the background. The party is taking place at 58 E. 68th Street, the former Harold Pratt House, a Gilded Age industrialist who was a partner of Standard Oil. A student living in this corner mansion on Park Avenue would be from an exceedingly wealthy family. In real life, this mansion is now the Council on Foreign Relations.

The real exterior of the building is used as the filming location, but the interiors of this scene are filmed elsewhere. Joey and Tim leave the party and run into the 6 train subway station at 77th Street and ride the back of the subway car (a quasi-vintage one, procured for the filming). It may be one of Joey’s last carefree, teenage moments in her life.

4. Church Avenue Subway Station

Jayson and Owen playing saxophonePhoto Courtesy of Netflix © 2020

Whenever television and films need to film in a subway station, the MTA allows them to use one of two stations generally: the lower level of Bowery which is decommissioned and has no trains coming through or Church Avenue in Brooklyn. Then, the set designers get creative with the signage to help indicate where this station is supposed to be.

In the opening of the second episode, when Jayson and Owen go busking in the subway near Grand Army High School, the subway station is meant to be the Grand Army Plaza Station on the 2/3 subway lines. In reality, this is filmed on the upper level of the Church Avenue subway station with the signage changed to show the 2 and 3 lines.

5. The Movie Theater

Grand Army filming location by borough hallPhoto: JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX © 2020

Joey, Tim, George and Luke go to the movies before a house party at Luke’s. Joey, conflicted as to what to do with her feelings for Tim and her friendship with Anna, Tim’s sister, embarks on a course of action at the movie theater that will have major consequences. They try to take the subway from the Borough Hall subway station after the movie theater, indicating they may have been supposedly at the United Artists theater in Brooklyn Heights.

“Weekend train bullshit,” says Luke, as they head out of the station failing to get on a subway. The crew is running late to Luke’s own party. Tim suggests going to Jay Street, a major subway station nearby, “to catch the C” train, but Joey hails a taxi.

6. Fulton Ferry Landing

Dom and John at Fulton Ferry LandingPhoto Courtesy of Netflix © 2020

Dom and John Lewis go on their first date and end up at Fulton Ferry Landing in DUMBO to take in the views of New York City and the Brooklyn Bridge. Here, you can also find the quotes of Walt Whitman‘s poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” on the railings.

John says something every young New Yorker feels seeing the city skyline: “You ever envisage yourself just conquering the city?”

7. East New York

Dom's apartment in East New YorkPhoto: MARNI GROSSMAN/NETFLIX © 2020

Dom lives in East New York, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Brooklyn on the border near Queens. As of 2018, 30% of the population lived under the poverty line — 9% higher than the rest of the borough. The community faces a significant rent burden with 52% of the population reporting difficulty paying rent. This is the reality that Dom faces and her family’s financial struggle becomes a significant plot point in Grand Army.

Frequently the subject of potential rezonings, a rezoning was approved in 2016 but four years later, there has been concern about whether the promises to the community are being made. In a 2020 article in City Limits, Alexa Sloan, organizing member of the Coalition for Community Advancement: Progress for Cypress Hills and East New York stated, “The city has fallen short on a lot of the promises that were to come through for the East New York rezone. The city unlocked the density and height requirements and that allowed for a lot of interest in real-estate speculation and development for East New York.”

8. Department of Education

Grand Army film locations Photo: IAN WATSON/NETFLIX © 2020 

Dom heads to the Department of Education to testify at Owen’s hearing. She is filmed walking down Court Street to the DOE’s Personnel and Business Administration Offices at 65 Court Street just south of Brooklyn Borough Hall.

9. 72nd Street Subway Station

Leila on the subwayPhoto: JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX © 2020

That same morning, Leila sees Joey and her parents at the 72nd Street subway station. She’s heading downtown, on her way to Grand Army High School on the 2/3 subway lines suggesting that she lives somewhere on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Leila posts an Instagram story about Joey being at that station, not realizing what’s going on, and causes gossip in the school as to Joey’s whereabouts.

10. Cadman Plaza

Cadman Plaza Post Office

While Joey is out of school, we see her running at Cadman Plaza and Columbus Park, which are the locus of much of Brooklyn’s governmental buildings including the Kings County Supreme Court, Brooklyn Borough Hall (recently renamed for Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and the Federal Building and post office.

11. Jackson Heights

Sid coming out of subway stationPhoto Courtesy of Netflix © 2020

Someone posts Sid’s college essay on Instagram but he doesn’t know it when he gets off the elevated subway near his home in Jackson Heights, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in New York City with a large population of South Asians. His sister Meera meets him at the station and breaks the news to him. While Jackson Heights does have elevated subway lines, this scene is actually filmed in Williamsburg at the Halsey subway station on the J train. The Rite Aid at the corner has been altered to say FAST AID.

12. Westside Market

Another indication that Leila lives in the Upper West Side is the scene where she walks with her mom out of Westside Market, a grocery store located on Broadway and 100th Street, a few blocks south of Columbia University. They have a discussion about Leila’s origin, her Americanized name, her invisibility belonging to neither her original culture or her adopted one, and the fact that she feels like everyone is laughing at her.

13. Prospect Park

Prospect Park underpass in Grand ArmyPhoto: Courtesy of Netflix © 2020

Joey confronts George, Luke, Tim and Anna about what happened in the taxi at one of the Prospect Park underpasses near the entrance to the park at Grand Army Plaza. Prospect Park is designed by the same landscape architects as Central Park and considered by them to be their masterpiece. After the meeting, Joey runs into Dom in front of the Soldiers’ and Sailors Arch and they sit together.

14. Sacred Heart

Joey at Sacred HeartPhoto: SOPHIE GIRAUD/NETFLIX © 2020

Joey transfers to Sacred Heart, a private school on the Upper East Side at 1 E. 91 Street located in two former Gilded Age mansions belonging to Otto H. Kahn and James A. Burden. The exterior shot of Joey standing outside the school is filmed outside the Loyola School, another private school, on Park Avenue and 83rd Street.

15. Lincoln Center

Grand Army filming locations Lincoln CenterPhoto: JASPER SAVAGE/NETFLIX © 2020

Jayson performs at All-State, taking Owen’s seat. The concert takes place at Lincoln Center, although the scenes are shot elsewhere. This author served as Principal Cellist at New York All-State for three years in high school, and the festival usually takes place outside of New York City (although the All-Eastern Festival she attended took place in the city with the final concert at Carnegie Hall).

16. Broadway Dance Center

Joey at Broadway Dance CenterPhoto: SOPHIE GIRAUD/NETFLIX © 2020

At the end of the first season, Joey goes running through Times Square to get to her dance class at the Broadway Dance Center, a real dance studio located at 322 West 45th Street. The song Freedom by George Michael plays and we see Joey start to the process of taking back her life.

Check out Grand Army on Netflix, and see more from our filming locations column on Untapped New York.