The series “Only Murders In the Building,” released on Hulu today should tickle the hearts of old New Yorkers (and new). First, the filming locations for the comedic murder-mystery are entirely shot in New York City and the action is set on the Upper West Side. Second, the show is the brainchild of Steve Martin, along with screenwriters Dan Fogelman and John Hoffman. It has an old school vibe in how the show is conceived (narrators included) but is fully set in modern times.
The main characters Charles (Steve Martin), Oliver (Martin Short), and Mabel (Selena Gomez) live in the same apartment building and don’t know each other but discover they are all obsessed with true crime. When a horrific death takes place inside their building, the trio believe it to be a murder and start a podcast of their own, Serial style, called “Only Murders in the Building” which unveils the secrets of the building and the current case. Martin, a long-time New Yorker, opens with something quintessentially New York and says “Here’s a thing I don’t get. People who worry about living in a big city because of all the crime. As any true crime aficionado will tell you, it’s the boondocks you need to worry about.” Guest stars include Tina Fey, Sting, Nathan Lane and more. Here are the filming locations for “Only Murders in the Building”!
1. The Belnord aka The Arconia
“Only Murders in the Building” takes place in a fictionally-named apartment building called “The Arconia.” The show does not explicitly share the real name of the pre-war Upper West Side building all the action takes place in, but it’s The Belnord at 225 West 86th Street along Broadway. The Belnord was a real estate speculation project by the Astors, completed in 1909 and designed by architect H. Hobart Weekes. It was designated a New York City landmark in 1966. It’s one of the few buildings in New York City large enough to have an interior courtyard where a car can enter and make a loop around, similar to the Apthorp and Graham Court, real estate projects on the Upper West Side also backed by the Astors. All three have a palazzo-like exterior architecture, imposing front gates, and an open-air courtyard to bring in light to the apartments.
The fictional name “The Arconia” certainly evokes the apartment names of the period and is quite close to The Ansonia, another Upper West Side apartment building completed just a few years before The Belnord (and is featured in a black and white photograph in the Arconia lobby). Graham Court was also featured as a filming location in Mozart in the Jungle. Untapped New York writer Julia Vitullo-Martin, who resides in The Belnord, says that only the exteriors and the courtyard were used for the show and the scenes in the elevator. Most of the interior scenes were filmed at 270 Riverside Drive, including the lobby.
2. The Dakota
In the opening of “Only Murders in the Building”, Charles (played by Steve Martin) walks with the backdrop of Central Park. We also see him next to The Dakota, another famous Upper West Side apartment building, when a fan stops him. You see the beautiful ironwork ornaments on the exterior of The Dakota, the globes of the subway station on 72nd Street and Central Park West, and then the facade itself. The scene sets the stage for Charles’ character — he was once a star on a famous crime television show called “Brazzos” a long time ago but even fans are not too interested in taking photographs with him.
The Dakota may be most infamous for being the scene of John Lennon’s murder but the building has an illustrious history beginning from its creation by the founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company as one of the earliest apartment buildings on the Upper West Side.
We meet Mabel and Oliver as they walk along Broadway. Like with Charles, each character muses, comedically, about New York City. The city is “a lot,” says Mabel. “Don’t be here if you don’t like a lot.” And Oliver says, “NYC, what is it about you?”…Don’t we all feel like orphans here at times, struggling to find our place?”
Broadway on the Upper West Side has a mix of local businesses and chain stores. In the scene with Mabel, you’ll see a recognizable Upper West Side business whose signage isn’t shown: Westside Market. The grocery store was also a filming location in the Netflix show Grand Army.
In episode five, Oscar gets out of prison and meets up with Mabel. He accompanies her on her mission to track down why Tim Kono might have written down O.M. and Shore Road, and reminds her that her brother’s FBI code name is Oliver Mora and his cover is a tattoo parlor on Shore Road in Bayport, Long Island. Oliver and Charles follow the duo, first across Central Park’s 85th Street Transverse, passing the NYPD station built into the remnants of the Yorkville Reservoir. The then head up the Upper East Side, passing Metropolitan Hospital, a filming location for the show New Amsterdam and head up the FDR Drive. They would have to keep going up the Harlem River Drive to get their intended bridge, the George Washington Bridge. Eagle eye New Yorkers would know that there would be no reason to cross Manhattan to the East Side to get to that bridge, they should have taken the West Side Highway. But with the revelation they are going to Long Island, the crosstown trek becomes convenient, and they head onto the Triboro Bridge.
Charles and Oliver riff on a bunch of Long Island jokes and accents, mentioning towns like Setauket (home of the first spy ring in America under George Washington, which the AMC television series Turn was based on), Patchogue, Syosset, Massapequa, Sag Harbor, Amagansett and more. When a stop is made at a gas station and convenience store, the filming location is actually located in the Rockaways — not on the way geographically for the plot but convenient for filming. The filming location is at Waterview Car Care located at 112-10 Beach Channel Drive. In the scene, you can see the Cross Bay Veterans Bridge in the background.
We’ll be updating this article with more filming locations as the show continues (the first five episodes are available currently). For now, please enjoy these behind the scenes on-set photographs shared by Untapped New York writer Julia Vitullo-Martin:
Next, check out the Filming Locations for Modern Love.