2. Abuela’s Apartment

Scene from In the Heights
Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

This intersection also was the exterior filming locations for the nail salon and the car service company Rosario’s Car Service, with a lot of facades also undergoing a similar redesign like the bodega. In real life, Rosario’s Car Service is actually Reyno Car Service. The nail salon exterior was built into the front yard of the townhouse at the southeast corner of 175th Street and Audubon Avenue. Abuela’s apartment location is 532 175th Street, within a row of townhouses just down the block from this intersection. With chain stores moving in and generic signage of vinyl, plastic and LEDs becoming the norm, the set designers had to actively re-insert the indicators of the local community back in, which speaks to the larger question of profound neighborhood change happening in the area.

All design elements were created through a careful reference to the existing neighborhood fabric. Brooks “paid close attention to the color, depth and fine points of the neighborhood to ensure authenticity, a watchword for the entire production,” says Warner Bros. while Coates “spent several days walking every street of Washington Heights, Inwood and the Bronx, photographing bodegas, stores, car services and salons, examining the details that make the Heights unique. He also spent hours in the New York Public Library sifting through historical images of the neighborhood. Coates then assembled a room filled with fabrics, furniture and street art, with reference photos covering the walls, all of which began to shape the look of the main intersection and primary sets.”