10 Classic Movie Moments in New York City

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Apr 04, 2016

by KRISTEN AMIET, Writer

New York City is a magnet for movie-makers – its famous Manhattan skyline and neighbourhoods stars in their own right.

King Kong (1933)

While the remakes would make you think otherwise, the original King Kong was spruiked at the time as “the strangest story ever conceived by man”. A colossal gorilla goes, ahem, ape and scales the Empire State Building – the tallest building in the world at the time and still one of the most recognisable structures of the New York City skyline.

The Seven Year Itch (1955)

Marilyn Monroe managed to make the upward breeze of NYC’s subway grating sexy in Billy Wilder’s comedic romp. The iconic “skirt scene” was no accident: it was filmed over 14 takes on 52nd and Lexington at 1am while thousands of besotted fans looked on then finished in a studio in California.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Though you’d never have known it, Audrey Hepburn’s window-shopping scene was shot in front of hundreds of bystanders who’d gathered outside the Tiffany & Co. Flagship Store on 5th Avenue. In fact, the store opened on a Sunday for the first time in decades to allow filming to take place inside.

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

An ode to the (short-lived) city’s 1970s disco scene, who could forget a young John Travolta strutting his moves on the streets of Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge to the sound of the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive? It wasn’t too far from the truth: Travolta danced for three hours a day during filming.

Ghostbusters (1984)

A rampaging giant gorilla had destroyed New York so a sci-fi comedy about a paranormal attack didn’t seem that far-fetched when Ghostbusters hit cinemas. The exterior of the ghost-catching service’s headquarters can be seen on North Moore Street in TriBeCa.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

That notorious scene with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal was filmed at Katz’s Delicatessen on the Lower East Side. The table at which the pair sat now has a sign above it that reads: “Where Harry met Sally... Hope you have what she had! Enjoy!” 

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Don’t let the title fool you. The final climactic scene of this ’90s classic – when Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks meet for the first time – took place on the observation deck of the Empire State Building (which was actually a replica of the real thing but you get the point).

Serendipity (2001)

Like Harry and Sally, Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack have an NYC table named in their honour. The “star table” at the Serendipity 3 dessert restaurant is where the pair shared a famous frozen hot chocolate following their meet cute at Bloomingdale’s.

Night at the Museum (2006)

Spread over four city blocks, the American Museum of Natural History in New York provided the fictional setting for Ben Stiller’s lively scientific career. Rest assured, the actual museum was only used for exterior shots so we’re almost certain there aren’t any live dinosaurs inside. 

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Whether or not you believe what supposedly went on behind closed doors, the Martin Scorsese-directed Wolf of Wall Street makes the most of NYC’s famous financial scene, complete with luxury cars, long lunches and wild parties.

This article was written in partnership with Tiffany & Co.