Tag Archives: New York 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 Object of My Affection

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The Object of My Affection is my least favorite of all the Jennifer Aniston movies.  I remember watching it in college and being thoroughly disappointed.  I mean, come on, it has to be one of the crappiest movies ever made.   But if we’re being honest here, has she ever made a good one?  LOL  But when the address of Jen’s sister’s house in The Object of My Affection  was listed in my new fave book Manhattan On Film: Walking Tours of Hollywood’s Fabled Front Lot, I just had to drag my boyfriend out to stalk it.  Good movie or bad, Jen’s still my number one girl!  🙂

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The picturesque brick townhouse showed up only once in the very beginning of The Object of My Affection, as the location where Jen’s wealthy sister and her husband, played by Allison Janney and Alan Alda, throw a lavish dinner party.  It is at this party that Jen meets Paul Rudd, a gay man who will soon become her roommate and the  ill suited “object of her affection”.  In the movie, Paul and his boyfriend are shown exiting the townhouse and arguing in the street on their way home.

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Not only was this townhouse used in The Object of My Affection, but it was also featured briefly in the Season Two episode of  Sex and the City entitled “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”.  In that ep, in order to take her mind off her recent break-up with Mr. Big, Miranda and the girls decide to take Carrie to a Yankees game.   On the way there they pick up Samantha, who is standing outside of the townhouse with her new boyfriend, James.  When I watched the episode recently I immediately recognized the building as The Object of My Affection  townhouse.  🙂  I get asked quite often how I recognize this stuff and my answer is that I have no idea.  LOL  When it comes to filming locations, for some reason I have a photographic memory.  For the life of me I can never remember where I’ve parked my car in a parking lot, but for some odd reason filming locations are forever branded on my brain.  🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Object of My Affection  house is located at 15 East 81st Street on New York’s Upper East Side.

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I’ve Got the Hippy Hippy Shake!

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I have been a fan of Tom C. Ruz  ever since my early teens and during that time Cocktail  was, of course, one of my very favorite movies.  So I was floored when I found the address of the bar Tom Cruise first worked at in the movie in a book I picked up just before my recent New York trip called Manhattan On Film: Walking Tours of Hollywood’s Fabled Front Lot.  So, while in New York last month, I of course dragged my boyfriend out to stalk the Cocktail  bar – also known as Baker Street Pub and Restaurant.  🙂

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At the time Cocktail  was filmed back in 1988, the space was occupied by a T.G.I. Friday’s Restaurant – the very first T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant, actually.  Friday’s was opened up in 1965 by Alan Stillman, a single New York perfume salesman and wannabe singer who was dying to meet the many stewardesses and models who lived in his Upper East Side neighborhood.  The solution to his single woes?  Buy an old dive bar on the corner of 1st Avenue and 63rd Street, dress it up with what would come to be known as the typical Friday’s decor, and hope that the ladies would follow.  The bar would soon became a smashing success.  So much so that only a week after its grand opening police had to be called in to control the lines outside!  The original Friday’s moved out of the space on 1st Avenue and 63rd Street about thirty years later and an Irish bar named Baker Street Pub and Restaurant moved in.

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Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to grab a drink while we were stalking Baker Street, but I did poke my head inside for a quick peek and it looks like a very cool place to grab a drink and a bite to eat.  🙂  And amazingly, even though Cocktail  was filmed over twenty years ago and the bar has since changed hands, it still looks almost exactly the same today as it did during filming – minus, of course, all of the T.G.I. Friday’s “flair”.  🙂  You can see interior photographs of the bar as it appears today on the Baker Street Pub website.  Supposedly an exact replica of the interior of the bar was built on a Toronto soundstage and all of the filming of Cocktail  took place there, but after watching the movie earlier today it is obvious that at least some filming did actually take place in the real Manhattan bar.  Interestingly enough, the bar named Cell Block that Tommy Boy worked at towards the middle of the movie was an actual Toronto jail that was dressed up to look like a Manhattan Night Club.  You can see pictures of the interior of the jail on MovieShotsLA.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Baker Street and Restaurant is located at 1152 1st Avenue on New York’s Upper East Side.  You can visit their website here.

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Law and Order

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One New York filming location that will look familiar to anyone who passes it – unless they’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years – is the New York County Courthouse.  This massive building, with it’s hundred foot wide grand staircase and towering granite colonnade, has been featured in thousands of productions over the years.  But it should be most recognizable to fans of the crime show genre as the courthouse from all of the Law and Order series.  It is at this courthouse that McCoy and Briscoe, Benson and Stabler, and Eames and Goren see all of their cases tried.  Besides being featured weekly on the three Law and Order series, the courthouse has also been featured in Miracle on 34th Street, Twelve Angry Men, Legal Eagles, Regarding Henry, Nuts, Wall Street, Good Fellas, The Devil’s Advocate, Married to the Mob, City Hall, The Hurricane, Kojak, Cagney and Lacey, Naked City, NYPD Blue, The Equalizer, The Godfather, and Aftershock: Earthquake in New York.

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The New York County Courthouse was built back in 1919 by Boston architect Guy Lowell, who also built the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  Guy actually won the commision of the building in a 1913 design contest.  His original winning design for the courthouse featured a circular shape, but plans changed and he ended up building the courthouse in a six-sided, hexagonal form (bird’s eye view pictured above).  Looking at the building from the front, one would never know it was built in this way.  Very cool!  The building, which was made a New York City Landmark in 1966, is absolutely beautiful – and overwhelming – in person.  I am telling you, we don’t have anything like this in L.A.! 

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In the Sixth Season of Sex and the City Carrie reported for jury duty at the United States Courthouse, which is located right next door to the Law and Order Courthouse.  In the episode, entitled “Hop, Skip and A Week”, Carrie and her boyfriend Berger share a “Hollywood kiss” on the courthouse steps just before she checks in to perform her civic duty.  At first I thought Carrie and Berger had their kiss on the steps of the Law and Order Courthouse, but upon closer inspection I realized it was a different Corinithian-style building altogether.  The two courthouse buildings look amazingly similar, and are both very beautiful, especially because they are situated right next to each other.  They create quite an imposing view as you come upon them.  The U.S. Courthouse was built in 1933, a bit later than the New York County Courthouse.  It was designed by Cass Gilbert, who also designed New York’s Woolworth Building. Even though I am pretty sure New York jury duty is nowhere near as fun as jury duty in L.A., I think it would be very cool to perform my civic duty in such a historic building.

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

Stalk It: The New York County Courthouse is located at 60 Centre Street in Lower Manhattan.  Carrie reported for Jury Duty at the US Courthouse located right next door at 40 Centre Street.

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The Campbell Apartment

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One of my favorite bars in all of New York is called the Campbell Apartment and it is located right inside the most famous train depot of them all, Grand Central Station.  I discovered the bar thanks to a guide book I was reading during my first trip to New York, back in December of 2005.

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The Campbell Apartment was never actually an apartment at all, but rather the business office of millionaire railroad tycoon John William Campbell.  In 1920, after retiring from his position as chairman of Credit Clearing House, Campbell became a member of the board of the New York Public Railroad and decided to find a suitable office for himself close to Grand Central Station.  In 1923, Campbell found his perfect office – a 3,500 square foot single room located right inside Grand Central Station.  The room measured 35 feet wide, 60 feet long, and had 25 foot high ceilings.  Campbell hired New York architect Augustus N. Allen to renovate the large room into his dream Florentine-style office – and no expense was spared in doing so.  The office became a sort of museum, housing a million dollar art collection which consisted of vases, statues, rare books, and antique rugs.  One of those rugs covered the entire floor of the large room and was worth a reported $300,000.  The office featured gorgeous leaded windows, dark wood-paneled walls, a large marble fireplace, 13th Century Italian furnishings, a huge steel safe, a grand piano and a pipe organ.  Besides conducting his business affairs there, Campbell and his wife would often entertain in his office, as well, hosting large groups of friends for dinner, dancing, and cocktails. 

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Those parties perhaps served as the inspiration for Mark Grossich, current owner of the Campbell Apartment.  Mark purchased the space in 1999, 42 years after John Campbell’s death.  In the interim between Campbell’s death and Grossich’s purchase, the once grand space fell into serious disarray, at different times serving as a warehouse, a storage room, and even a jail!  Mark had the foresite to restore the beautiful space to its former glory, hoping that Grand Central commuters of today would step into the grand office of yesterday to sip “cocktails from another era”.  And indeed they did.  Ten years later they are still coming – in droves.  As I learned on my first visit to the Campbell Apartment, most nights it’s standing room only.

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On that first visit back in 2005, I pulled what my boyfriend likes to call my “Sex and the City coup”.  In the Season One episode of SATC  entitled “The Power of Female Sex”, Carrie and the girls are repeatedly denied entrance to hot new New York eatery Balzac.  After their final failed attempt to dine at the eatery, Carrie makes a pit stop at Balzac’s restroom.  While there she runs into the hostess who denied them entry only moments before and who is currently in need of a tampon.  Carrie provides it, and after her good deed, never again has trouble getting a table at Balzac.  🙂  Well, on our first trip to the Campbell Apartment, we put our names in with the hostess and were told it was going to be at least an hour wait.  It was at that point that I noticed the hostess’ sparkling, two carat, princess cut, diamond engagement ring and proceeded to drool all over it.  Ever since I was old enough to know what an engagement ring was, I have known that I want a princess cut one.  I don’t care how big it is, or what “clarity” or “color”, but my boyfriend knows that if he wants me to say yes, he had better be proposing with a princess cut.  🙂  Well, the hostess LOVED that I loved her ring and even let me try the huge rock on.  I was dying, it was so beautiful . . . and big!  Well, not five minutes later we were seated at one of the best spots in the bar.  🙂  As my mom always says, the quickest way to a girl’s heart is to compliment her engagement ring.  🙂

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I am actually very surprised that Campbell Apartment was not featured in an episode of Sex and the City – it seems like just the place Carrie and the girls would kick back a few cosmos.  But the Campbell Apartment was featured in the pilot episode of the ever-popular teen soap Gossip Girl as the location of Serena and Nate’s illicit affair (pictured above).  The bartender told us that the bar was also used in one of this season’s GG episodes, but he was unsure of which one.  I guess he’s not a big Gossip Girl  fan.  🙂  The bar has also been host to many movie wrap parties and industry get-togethers.

I can’t recommend stalking the Campbell Apartment enough!  It is an absolutely fabulous place to grab a drink.  Stepping through the doors is like stepping back in time to a more glamorous and fabulous era – the era of Old New York. 

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

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Stalk It: The Campbell Apartment is located at 15 Vanderbilt Avenue, inside Grand Central Station, in New York.  Baseball caps and tennis shoes are not permitted, so dress appropriately.  You can visit the Campbell Apartment website here.

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Gray’s Papaya

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 I know I have blogged about this location briefly once before in my You’ve Got Filming Locations page, but I think this is one location that is worthy of its very own blog post.  So here goes.  🙂  I have long been a fan of Gray’s Papaya, a small hot dog stand/restaurant chain that was started in 1973 on New York’s Upper West Side.  Today, 36 years later, it is practically a New York institution.  Gray’s serves up the BEST darn hot dogs I have ever eaten in my life.  I honestly don’t know what they put in there that makes ’em taste so darn good, but I sure want them to keep doing it!  Every year, during my December New York vacation, I gain a few pounds in my stomach region thanks to Gray’s and its fabulous hot dogs.  So I was super excited, while watching Sex and the City  reruns this past week, to see Gray’s pop up in a Season 5 episode entitled “Plus One is the Loneliest Number”.

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That episode centers around the launch party for Carrie’s newly published book – a party for which she has no date.  When she leaves the celebration all alone, her limo driver happens to ask her what the party was for.  When Carrie tells her that she has just published a book, the driver says that they have to celebrate the occasion and the two stop off at Gray’s Papaya for a midnight snack.  And, after hearing about Carrie’s new book, the Gray’s worker gives them the hot dogs for free.  This scene was actually based on the real life experience of SATC  write Cindy Chupack.  According to fave book Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell, after winning her first Emmy, dateless Cindy left the post-Emmy party alone and was headed home when the limo driver asked her about her night.  When the driver found out Cindy had just won an Emmy, she immediately headed to a McDonald’s drive-through to commemorate the occasion.  After the driver announced that Cindy had just won the award, the McDonald’s worker gave her a free chocolate shake.  🙂  For the SATC  episode, producers decided to use Gray’s Papaya instead of McDonald’s because SJP has always been a big fan of the hot dog chain.  🙂

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Gray’s was also featured quite notably near the end of You’ve Got Mail, as the location where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks eat lunch just before Meg heads off to meet NY152 for the first time (pictured above). 

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Besides You’ve Got Mail and Sex and the City, Grey’s also showed up in one of my very favorite movies, For Love or Money (pictured above).  It was also featured in Down to Earth, Crossing Delancy, and (very briefly) Die Hard With A Vengeance.

Nicholas A.B. Gray opened up the first Gray’s Papaya in 1973 with the belief that a good hot dog didn’t have to be costly.   Thirty-six years later Gray’s is still serving up excellent dogs at low prices, even if they’ve had to raise those prices a few times over the years.  In October of 2008, due to increased business expenses, Gray’s raised the cost of its ever-popular Recession Special (two hot dogs and a drink) from $3.50 to $4.45.  Still not bad for what is easily the best hot dog in New York.  I highly recommend stalking Gray’s – your pocketbook won’t mind at all.  Your pants’ size might, but not your pocketbook.  🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

Stalk It: The main Gray’s Papaya – the one that was featured in all of the above productions –  is located at 2090 Broadway Street on New York’s Upper West Side.  There are also two other Gray’s locations in Manhattan.   One is located at 402 6th Avenue and the other can be found at 539 8th Avenue.  All Gray’s restaurants are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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The Plaza Hotel – New York’s Most Exciting Hotel Experience?

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One New York building that I have long been wanting to stalk is the famed Plaza Hotel – a location that was referred to in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York as “New York’s most exciting hotel experience”.  During my first trip to the Big Apple, in December of 2005, the Plaza was one of the very first locations I dragged my boyfriend to. And I was absolutely dismayed to discover that the famed hotel had been closed.  How could a New York institution like the Plaza be closed??   I mean, it’s the Plaza  for Pete’s sake!  But in April of 2005 the Plaza did indeed close its gilded gold doors as it underwent a $400 million, three year restoration. And, every December since then, while on my annual winter pilgrimage to New York, I would sadly walk by the boarded up hotel wondering when I would get the chance to take a peek inside.  Well, that chance came just a few weeks ago.  And, sadly, it was not the Plaza experience I had been hoping for all these years. 

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The Plaza was built in 1907 by famed New York architect Harry J. Hardenbergh, who also built the Dakota apartment building and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.  The Plaza’s name has long been synonymous with the utmost in luxury, elegance, and wealth, and to me it symbolized the City of New York.  The magnificent French Chateau style building once housed 805 hotel rooms and has been owned by a slew of wealthy tycoons, including Donald Trump who paid $407.5 million for it in 1988.  Of the pricey purchase he said, “I haven’t purchased a building, I have purchased a masterpiece – the Mona Lisa.”  Sadly, though, today that masterpiece looks more like a cheap imitation.  😦  In 2004 the Plaza was purchased by real estate development company El Ad Properties.  It was closed down shortly thereafter for the massive rennovation project.  The Plaza had actually been long overdue for a face-lift – much of the furniture was worn and outdated and most rooms lacked central air conditioning.   El Ad masterminded the renovation project and decided to convert the famous hotel into a luxury condominium building.  Due to public uproar and conservationists’ protests, El Al ended up keeping 130 of the Plaza’s rooms to be used as hotel rooms and consolidated the rest into 152 condominium rental units and 181 privately owned spaces.  Much of the hotel’s public areas were also completely remodeled and renovated, as well.

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Sadly, the interior of the hotel is almost unrecognizable from before the renovation.  While I had never seen the interior of the Plaza before this past New York trip, I have watched Home Alone 2  about a hundred times.  And I am sad to say that nothing from the movie looked familiar in person.  😦  And, amazingly, neither the concierges nor our cocktail server could tell us much about the hotel’s history or what movies had been filmed there.  When I asked about the filming of Home Alone 2, one of the concierges actually said to me “Home Alone 2 was filmed here?”  I mean, COME ON!  REALLY???   Kevin’s mom couldn’t have been more on point when in Home Alone 2she asked Tim Curry, “What kind of idiots do you have working here?”  LOL

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My parents stayed at the Plaza for a few nights on their way to Europe over 25 years ago and had an absolutely magical time.  My mom, who was able to tell me more about the changes in the hotel layout than the Plaza staff, said that the lobby had been moved to another area of the hotel entirely.  The former lobby and check in area (the one that was featured in Home Alone 2) is now the residence entrance and is closed off to hotel guests.  It also looks quite different from how it appeared in the movie, as you can see from the above pics that I managed to snap through the closed off  residence entrance doors.

In Home Alone Kevin stayed in Room 411, one of the Plaza’s Central Park Suites, and, yes, filming did take place in an actual Plaza hotel room.  But the massive suite that Kevin and his family stayed in at the end of the movie can’t actually be found at the Plaza. As a a matter of fact, it can’t be found in New York at all.  According to The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations, that suite is the $5,000 per night Conrad Hilton Suite at the Hilton Chicago.  Duncan’s Toy Chest, the supposed New York toy store that Kevin visits in the movie that causes him to say “This is the greatest mistake of my life!” is also located in Chicago.  Go figure!

But Home Alone 2  is hardly the only production to have filmed at the Plaza.  In fact, the Plaza is one of New York’s most oft filmed locations. Just a brief list of productions that have filmed there – Crocodile Dundee, It Could Happen to You, Plaza Suite, Barefoot in the Park, North By Northwest, Almost Famous, Brewster’s Millions, The Cotton Club, Hollywood Ending, Network, The Great Gatsby, Annie Hall, Scent of a Woman, and Arthur.  It will also be featured in the upcoming Bride Wars, in which best friends Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson both book their wedding at the Plaza on the same day.  The Plaza is no stranger to television, either.  The hotel made an appearance in the Season 5 episode of The Sopranos  entitled “The Test Dream”.  

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And it also showed up quite a few times during Sex and the City’s second season.  The Plaza’s Terrace Room was the location of Miranda’s interior decorator’s whirlwind wedding in “The Chicken Dance”, 

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the Presidential Suite stood in for Samantha’s 72-year old boyfriend’s home in “The Man, The Myth, The Viagra”,

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and Carrie, emulating the final scene from The Way We Were, said (what she thought was) a final good-bye to Big outside of the Plaza in “Ex and the City”.  (Both scenes are pictured above.)

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The Plaza is no stranger to the literary world either.  In Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic Ties the Knot, main character Becky Bloomwood’s nuptials take place at the Plaza – well, sort of.  You’ll have to read the book to hear the story behind that one.  🙂  Eloise, the main character in Kay Thompson’s series of children’s books, lives at the Plaza hotel – and this was long before the rooms were turned into condominiums.  In real life, the weddings for both Katherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas, and President Nixon’s daughter were held at the famed hotel.  And Leo and Kate were just spotted lunching in the hotel’s famous Oak Room.

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 While we were stalking the Plaza, we decided to grab a few drinks in the lobby’s Champagne Bar (pictured above), hoping to relive some of the magic my parents had experienced during their stay there in 1980.  Unfortunately, a magical time was not had by any of us.  For one thing, the prices are outrageous.  Which I actually don’t mind, as long as the service and ambiance match up to those prices.  Sadly, neither did.  Our waiter brought us our check and came back several times hoping to collect it before the cheese plate appetizer we ordered had even arrived.  To make matters worse, part of the champagne bar had been closed off for a private party, which would not have mattered had techno music from the party not been blaring throughout the entire lobby during our cocktail hour.  The “quiet elegance” of the Plaza wasn’t so quiet after all.  And to top it all off, the part of the bar that was closed for the party also happened to be the only part of the lobby with a bathroom.  So, to use the only restroom available to bar patrons, I had to take a good five minute walk, down a very long and dark hallway, down two very dark and empty stairswells to what seemed to be the basement of the hotel.  Not the Plaza experience I had hoped for, to say the least.  Even with all of the problems, though, it was still very cool to be sitting in the Plaza sipping champagne.  I just don’t think it is something we’d ever do again.  😦  I, of course, still recommend stalking the Plaza, as I think everyone should see it at least once in their lives.  It truly is a spectacular building.  But be prepared to be disappointed – it’s not the hotel it once was.  And apparently, I’m not the only one who feels that way

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

Stalk It: The Plaza is located at 750 Fifth Avenue in New York.  Rooms start (yes, START) at $600 per night!  You can visit their website here.  The Hilton Chicago Hotel is located at 720 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  You can visit their website here.  Duncan’s Toy Chest from Home Alone 2  is located at 209 South La Salle Street in Chicago.

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