Tag Archives: Manhattan filming locations

The Beekman Tower Hotel

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While there are several restaurants in New York that I LOVE, there is one in particular that stands out far above the rest.  That restaurant is named the Top of the Tower and it is located on the 26th floor of the Beekman Tower Hotel.  Although the Top of the Tower has been one of my favorite places in all of New York for several years now, I had yet to blog about it because up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize it was a filming location – in one of my dad’s favorite movies no less!  Two weeks ago, while looking at the Top of the Tower website, I noticed a small section mentioning that it had been used in film and video shoots.  So I asked Mike, from MovieShotsLA, to call up the hotel to ask what exactly it had been featured in.  For some reason making phone calls like that absolutely terrifies me. I love speaking with people face to face, but phone calls – ugh.  Mike, on the other hand, dreads the face to face, but likes making phone calls.  LOL  What can I say – we make the perfect team.  🙂  So anyway, Mike called up the Beekman Tower for me and found out that among other things, the exterior of the hotel was featured in the Matt Damon flick The Bourne Supremacy.  And voila, a blog post was born.  🙂

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The landmark art deco style Beekman Tower Hotel was built in 1928 by John Mead Howells.  The building’s many ornamental Gothic details were designed by sculptor Rene Chambellan.  The building, which was previously named the Panhellenic Tower, was originally built as an affordable apartment complex for recent female college graduates belonging to the Greek, or Panhellenic, system – hence the name.  According to the book One Thousand New York Buildings, the Panhellenic instantly became a landmark building as it was “a perfect example of vertical force”.  The twenty-six story building housed 400 separate living spaces, a roof solarium with 360 degree sweeping views of Manhattan (that space is now the Top of the Tower restaurant), and a cocktail lounge.  Not bad for affordable housing, huh?  🙂  The Greek Alphabet, which was carved just to the left of the building’s entrance, is still visible to this day.  In 1964 the Panhellenic was sold to a private company who turned it into a regular apartment building.  In the early 90s the building was sold once again and was completely renovated and remodeled and turned into the upscale, all suite Beekman Tower Hotel.  You can view some great photographs of the Panhellenic Building here.

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The Beekman Tower has had several brushes with celebrity.  Katharine Hepburn’s sister was a resident of the Panhellenic Tower in its early years and Ms. Hepburn visited the building frequently.   The photo shoot for Jennifer Hudson’s March 2007 cover story for  Essence Magazine took place at the Top of the Tower.  You can see behind the scenes pics of that photo shoot here.  In November of 2008, a party to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” album was also held at the Top of the Tower.   And as I mentioned earlier, the exterior of the Beekman was used in the filming of The Bourne Supremacy.

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I really can’t recommend stalking the Top of the Tower enough!  The food is amazing – the mashed potatoes and mushroom risotto are some of the best I’ve ever had! – the art deco ambiance is beautiful, and the service is perfection.  But more than anything else, it is the breathtaking views that set this restaurant apart.  The Top of the Tower has some of the most amazing views I have ever experienced in my life – especially at night when the city lights make New York extraodinarily spectacular and romantic.  If you only have one night to spend in Manhattan, the Top of the Tower is the place you should spend it.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It:The Beekman Tower Hotel is located at 3 Mitchell Place, at the corner of 1st Avenue and 49th Street, in New York City.  You can visit their website here.

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The Astor Place Starbucks

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Two of my favorite things in the world (besides Jennifer Aniston, of course) are Starbucks coffee and Sex and the City.  So it was only natural that I stalk the Starbucks featured in Sex and the City: The Movie  while I was in New York a few weeks ago.  🙂  The Starbucks used in SATC  is located on Astor Place and is actually one of the busiest Starbucks in New York.  It also just happens to be Matt Damon’s Starbucks of choice.  🙂  I found this location thanks to the Sex and The City: The Movie book, which features an entire chapter dedicated to filming locations.  LOVE IT! 

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The Astor Place Starbucks was featured twice in SATC: The Movie.  It first shows up in one of the funniest scenes in the movie, as the location where Carrie holds her personal assistant interviews and meets “Louise from Saint Louis” (Jennifer Hudson) for the first time.  That scene was actually the first scene Jennifer Hudson filmed for the movie and, according to the Sex and the City: The Movie book, at the end of the day she sang “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” to the cast and crew.  In fact, all of the actors who played Carrie’s interviewees in the scene are well-known Broadway singers.

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Later on in the movie, Carrie and Louise once again visit this same Starbucks.  But this time, Carrie has a new head of hair – long, dark brown locks.  A little bit of SATC trivia – Carrie’s brown mane in the movie was actually a wig!  

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While walking to the Astor Place Starbucks, I couldn’t help but wonder why, out of the 178 Starbucks locations in New York City, producers choose this one for filming?  But once I entered the front doors, it all became clear.  The Astor Place Starbucks is the BIGGEST Starbucks I have ever seen in my life.  It has to be at least 2,000 square feet.  It’s massive size must have made it the easy choice for filming a movie with a large crew and large cameras.

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While researching the Astor Place Starbucks this morning, I came across this AMAZING website and pretty much spent my whole morning absolutely engrossed by it!  Apparently, there is a man named Winter whose goal in life is to visit every single Starbucks location on the planet.  A man after my own heart, I’m telling you.  🙂  I told my boyfriend about Winter and his unique mission this morning and he replied “That sounds like something you would do!”  LOL  I better never meet this Winter guy, I have a feeling we’d be trouble together.   🙂  On a side note, if you are at all a Starbucks fan like myself and find yourself in New York, you will be very excited to know that the Herald Square Macy’s houses not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Starbucks – one on the first floor balcony, and one each on levels 3, 5, and 6!  I was in heaven while shopping there.  🙂  LOL  The above picture is of a Macy’s sign showing all of its Starbucks locations that I took while riding the escalator, which explains why it turned out a bit blurry.  🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Sex and the City  Starbucks is located at the corner of Astor Place and Layfayette Street in Manhattan.

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The World’s Most Famous Subway Grate

The other night in my acting class we were talking about Marilyn Monroe and the movie The Seven Year Itch.  One of my classmates asked me if I had ever seen the famous scene of Marilyn standing on top of a subway grate from the movie.  I told him that not only had I seen it, I’ve stood on that very subway grate!  So, I thought I’d do a little post about it.  🙂  In that famous scene, Marilyn and her downstairs neighbor, played by Tom Ewell, exit the Trans Lux Theatre, which once stood at 586 Lexington Avenue, and walk onto a subway grate.  Marilyn is standing atop the grate as a subway passes making her white skirt billow high above her waist as she exclaims “Oh, can you feel the breeze from the subway?  Isn’t it delicious?”

The scene was originally shot on location in Manhattan on September 15, 1954 at 1 O’clock in the morning, with over 5000 spectators and media men watching.  The crowd went wild as Marilyn’s skirt flew higher and higher, making the footage being shot completely unusable due to the noise.  Director Billy WIlder ended up having to re-shoot the entire sequence at 20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles.   

The footage that ended up making it to the final cut of the movie was significantly edited down as the scene was considered far too racy for its time.  But everyone remembers those black and white photographs taken of Marilyn that September night in Manhattan with her skirt billowing high above her waist, showing off her panties and her long gams.  In the actual movie, you barely see Marilyn’s skirt fly up at all, most of what is shown is her face reacting to the subway breeze.  You can watch the subway grate scene here.

On a side note – One of the many people in attendance that September night in New York was Marilyn’s husband at the time, Joe DiMaggio.  Supposedly, Joe became enraged that the gleeful onlookers were viewing his wife’s panties over and over again during the filming of the scene.  The marriage was already on the rocks at the time and this experience put Joe over the edge.  Just a few weeks later he filed for divorce from the starlet, long before the movie ever premiered.

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

Stalk It: The Seven Year Itch subway grate is located at the northwest corner of Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street.  The Trans Lux Theatre is no longer there and a large office building now stands in its place. 

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