New York City has a plethora of prominent locations, landmarks and buildings that are widely known by people around the world through film and television — even more so after the ramping up of the Made in NY program that offers incentives to encourage production right in the city. While we often focus on locating more of the obscure film locations in current television and movies, we’re going back in time today to showcase places where some of the most iconic New York movies have appeared on the big screen.
1. Katz’s Delicatessen (When Harry met Sally)
Any mentioning of When Harry met Sally — undoubtedly one of the iconic New York movies in history — invariably brings to mind the memorable scene in which Meg Ryan demonstrates a fake orgasm. As New Yorkers and many tourists know, Katz’s Delicatessen, the venue where the scene was filmed, is an iconic establishment, located on the southwest corner of Houston and Ludlow streets on the Lower East Side.
Established in 1888 as a kosher restaurant run by a pair called the Iceland Brothers, the deli’s name was changed to “Iceland & Katz” upon the arrival of Willy Katz in 1903. In 1910 Willy, along with his cousin, bought out the Iceland brothers and changed the name to Katz’s Delicatessen. The present-day location of the deli is across the street from the original site, having been moved there during the construction of the subway.
Over the course of the 20th century, Katz Delicatessen became ingrained as a focal point of congregation for the many newly immigrated families on the Lower East Side. On Fridays the neighborhood would convene to enjoy a Katz signature dish of franks and beans and during the heydays of the Yiddish theater, the restaurant was teeming with actors, comedians and singers from the 2nd Avenue theaters.
In the 1988 Martin Dell—a family friend and longtime customer— along with his son Allen bought into Katz’s Delicatessen after the descendants of the Katz family, having no offspring to leave their business to, decided to let the deli go. Since then Katz’s Delicatessen—which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2013—has been meticulously and diligently preserved by the Dell family. Currently, the diner is operated by Allen’s son Jake, who has every intention of preserving the iconic diner. Dell told the Daily News, “Selling has been tempting, but the preservation of Katz’s is important not just for me and my family, but for New Yorkers, and for people who have never experienced traditional food and deli life.”