Look no further than Around the World in 80 Days if you’re seeking a period drama with a bit more action and adventure than The Gilded Age. The new revisiting of the classic Jules Verne novel, updated for modern sensibilities, has been on PBS since January. We haven’t covered it until now because in Sunday’s episode, the rag tag team of adventurers that has been trying to circumnavigate the globe end up in New York City!
New York City will be the main setting for the episode of Around the World in 80 Days for the episode next week as well, so you’ll just get a taste of things this Sunday when the trio — Phileas Fogg (played by David Tennant), his friend’s daughter and journalist Abigail “Fix” Fortescue (played by Leonie Bensch), and Passpartou (Ibrahim Koma) — enter a train station that looks quite a bit like old Penn Station in many ways. You can catch a glimpse of the scene in the trailer. We’ve worked with the PBS press team which has provided image stills from the show especially for Untapped New York to illustrate this story. In this article, we’ll also share with you the other New York City filming locations for Around the World in 80 Days seen in these episodes.
In each episode of Around the World in 80 Days, the characters find themselves amidst a major part of current events, whether entering in the middle of a mini revolution in Paris and saving the French President, or encountering a runaway slave while on a cross country wagon journey. In tonight’s episode, they’ve taken off from San Francisco and are headed to New York City. On arrival, they walk up a flight of steps and enter a waiting hall, where they are mobbed by reporters and fans.
While the train station in Around the World in 80 Days is not a precise recreation of old Penn Station, like what was achieved in Motherless Brooklyn, you’ll feel the references from the first glimpse. There is a main waiting area that is reminiscent of an area of the original Penn Station modeled after the Rome‘s Baths of Caracalla. The barrel-vaulted coffered ceiling and colonnade are the main architectural elements that recall Penn Station.
Another clue is the signage inside the set that reads “Downstairs for Incoming Trains Tracks 1-8”. The font and style is exactly like the sign that used to be in the original Penn Station (though it did not have information about the track numbers). Speaking to Justin Rivers, Untapped New York’s Chief Experience Officer and Penn Station expert who leads our Remnants of Penn Station tour, says “‘Downstairs for Incoming Trains’ is definitely a Penn allusion, but the 1910 station.”
There’s one catch in all of this: the adventurers leave London on October 5, 1872. At this point of time, the original Pennsylvania Station would not have been built for a few decades (it opened in 1910). Our protagonists would have taken the Pennsy to Exchange Place in Jersey City, New Jersey and taken a ferry across the Hudson River to Manhattan. If for some reason, they were on the New York Central, they would have come into Grand Central Depot, which did exist in 1872 but as Rivers explains, “Grand Central Depot would not have had the incoming trains sign at all, it was one level back then. Grand Central Depot had eight incoming tracks and four outgoing, but they would have been on street level.” The credit lines on some of the press images actually specify Grand Central Depot, but eagle eye New Yorkers will spot see that the visual references used in the set are much more similar to Penn Station.
The clock in the train station of Around the World in 80 Days forms a major plot point in the show. In the very first episode, Fogg receives a postcard with a drawing of the clock with the words “Coward” on it. It sets him off on the unlikely journey, once he’s goaded by an old “friend” at his private club, The Reform Club, after reading Abigail’s article in the newspaper.
The clock in the show isn’t quite similar to the one in old Penn Station because the filming location for this scene was actually in a town hall located about thirty minutes outside of Bucharest. The exterior of the building was used as Paris’ Gare de Lyon in the first episode.
The New York City street scenes, which have the fabulous feel of those seen in The Alienist were shot in a studio o outside of Bucharest. PBS tells us, “The street was partially built already, but we massively altered it and put in fire escapes, new shop fronts, etc.” In next week’s episode, you’ll also see docks and a ship — the dock was filmed in an old partially-used factory in Bucharest and the ship deck built on a sound stage in Castel Studios, Bucharest. Additional CGI embellishment was completed in Paris. Filming locations for other episodes of the Around the World in 80 Days, were in South Africa.
Watch The New York City street scenes, which have the fabulous feel of those seen in The Alienist were shot in a studio o outside of Bucharest. PBS tells us, “The street was partially built already, but we massively altered it and put in fire escapes, new shop fronts, etc.” In next week’s episode, you’ll also see docks and a ship — the dock was filmed in an old partially-used factory in Bucharest and the ship deck built on a sound stage in Castel Studios, Bucharest. Additional CGI embellishment was completed in Paris. Filming locations for other episodes of the Around the World in 80 Days, were in South Africa.
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Remnants of Penn Station