Premiering Sunday, April 4th at 9 PM on PBS, Atlantic Crossing tells of the epic journey of Norwegian Crown Princess Märtha during World War II and her unlikely relationship (and romance of sorts) with U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She flees Norway as the Germans invade and makes her way to the U.S., where she stays for most of the war under the protection of FDR.
In Atlantic Crossing, Crown Princess Märtha is played by Swedish actress Sofia Helen, known for playing the title role in The Bridge, a Swedish crime series that spawned many copycats including an American production of the same name and The Tunnel. FDR is played by Kyle Malachlan of Twin Peaks fame. While a large portion of the dialogue and the personal story between FDR and Crown Princess Märtha had to be imagined and dramatized, many of the historical moments shown in Atlantic Crossing are real — showing events like the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the announcement of the Lend-Lease Act, the capture of German saboteurs who arrived off the coast Long Island by U-boat, and many more.
Set across many countries — Norway, Sweden, Finland, England, Scotland, and the United States — Atlantic Crossing is filmed in Norway and the Czech Republic. Yet, a large portion of the show takes place in New York and Washington D.C. Check out how the production found ways to recreate these historic filming locations!
One of the very first locations shown in Atlantic Crossing is Springwood, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Hudson Valley home which was dubbed the “Summer White House.” Crown Princess Märtha and Crown Prince Olav visit Springwood with FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt (played by Harriet Sansom Harris) during their tour of the United States in 1939. They arrive at the Hyde Park Train Station, which is filmed at the Liberec train station in the Czech Republic.
Springwood is located in Hyde Park in Dutchess County, almost two hours north of New York City. FDR was born here, on the estate purchased by his father. The Colonial Revival-style mansion you see today, made of stone and stucco, was the work of FDR and his mother, who enlarged and vastly redesigned the original Italianate home from before.
In Atlantic Crossing, a white Chateau Slapy in the Czech Republic doubles for Springwood. The French-style chateau has the scale and size of Springwood but not the architectural style or colors. Later in World War II, Crown Princess Märtha will spend more time at Springwood with her children, Princess Ragnihild, Princess Astrid, and Prince Harald (now King Harald V).
2. Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
When Crown Princess Märtha and her three children first arrives to the United States after a journey on the United States Army transport ship American Legion, she’s put up at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The ship arrives in New York harbor, with the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan CGI’d in Atlantic Crossing. The skyline looks accurate to the time period and you can see skyscrapers like 40 Wall Street, 20 Exchange, 70 Pine, and the Woolworth Building standing tall.
Märtha has brought along a video camera and the production of Atlantic Crossing has included real footage from the Crown Princess’ stay in the series. While the Crown Princess and her children look at the tall buildings of Manhattan wide-eyed, historic footage is spliced in of Central Park.
In Atlantic Crossing, the production team does a pretty good job of using an Art Deco/Art Moderne building in the Prague at the Mariánské náměstí (square) to substitute for the Waldorf-Astoria, although it has a definitively Eastern European architectural vibe.
You can discover thesecrets of the Waldorf Astoria in our virtual talk with David Freeland, author of The American Hotel: The Waldorf Astoria and the Making of A Century! Tickets to this talk are just $10, or you can attend for free as an Untapped New York Insider!
Making the Waldorf Astoria
3. The White House
Many scenes in Atlantic Crossing take place in The White House in Washington D.C. Crown Princess Märtha and her family stay in The White House as a guest of FDR when they arrive to the United States. The close-up exterior shots of the White House, shown when cars arrive, is filmed at Kačina castle in Svatý Mikuláš in the Czech Republic. Interior scenes to represent Buckingham Palace were also filmed here for Atlantic Crossing.
The interior of The White House was built on elaborate sets located at Barrandov Studio in Prague. A total of twelve rooms of the White House were built, including the Oval Office, the West Sitting Hall with the arched windows overlooking the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Eleanor Roosevelt’s office, FDR’s bedroom, and other rooms within the private residence.
4. Pooks Hill
FDR helps Märtha find a more permanent housing situation outside Washington D.C. at the 150-acre estate of Pooks Hill in Bethesda, Maryland. Owned by publisher Merle Thorpe, the estate was named after Rudyard Kipling’s novel Puck of Pooks Hill. The mansion is described as a “castle-like house.”
FDR convinces Thorpe to rent Pooks Hill to the Norwegian Crown Princess and eventually the royal family purchased the estate outright. They live there until 1946, when they return to Norway, and the owners promptly demolish the house and subdivide the property. In Atlantic Crossing, Pooks Hill is filmed at the Chateau Kotěra in the Czech Republic.
5. Madison Square Garden
Crown Princess Märtha goes on a speaking tour, which kicks off at Madison Square Garden, in order to raise funds for Norway. She is coached by Eleanor Roosevelt on public speaking, and the First Lady introduces Märtha at Madison Square Garden.
The Madison Square Garden Märtha would have spoken at would have been located at 8th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, the third version of Madison Square Garden. It was in operation from 1925 to 1968, after which the Garden was relocated above Penn Station where it is today.
More action in Atlantic Crossing also takes place on the north shore of Long Island, where the dramatization of the story includes a close encounter and secret spy close to Märtha’s staff who is in contact with German saboteurs.
Atlantic Crossing premieres on PBS Masterpiece Sunday, April 4th at 9/8C.