New York Film Locations

otsoNY in 2009: Be prepared for disappointments

30 October 2019

As otsoNY prepares to celebrate 10 years online, its creator Mark Rogers reflects on his memories from his first trip to New York City in May 2009, and the disappointments that he faced as a naive film location fan. “New York City is the greatest city in the world,” says Mark matter-of-factly, “and if I could choose any place in the world to live, it would certainly be there, but as such I’m a million miles away in a country with plenty of green fields, which all comes at a price! Rain in England is a regular occurrence and something us British folk, get very used to, even in the summer months. So when it rained in New York during my first visit, for a moment there, it really felt like home!”

As preparation for the trip to New York, Mark produced his own film location maps, dividing up Manhattan into six sections; from Upper Manhattan to Midtown and from there to Lower Manhattan, with individual maps for Brooklyn and Central Park. “It made sense to do as much research as possible before the trip,” explains Mark. “So when it came to touring the streets and avenues of Manhattan, I wouldn’t be wasting time trying to pinpoint the actual film locations. What I didn’t expect so much was the disappointments.” As the visit to New York was only for ten days, Mark knew there would be no second takes as time was limited. “The apartment building at 55 Central Park West, better known to Ghostbusters fans as ‘Spook Central’ was partly covered in scaffolding due to ongoing maintenance,” recalls Mark. “The only part of the building not to be shielded from sight was the very top, which was probably the most important part in many ways as that was where all of the action took place, but it couldn't detract the disappointment I felt.”

Spook Central at 55 Central Park West

For maintenance work to be carried out on apartment buildings that have more than 10 stories, for safety reasons, scaffolding is secured to the side of the building and covered with netting. “Ironically, the same thing happened to me on another visit to the city, with the Chelsea Hotel and The Dakota, both undergoing maintenance work, and both completely covered by scaffolding and netting. Thankfully, on previous trips I had managed to take photographs of both buildings, so it wasn’t too disappointing.”

Another disappointment that Mark faced was the closure of ‘Love Saves the Day’ vintage shop on Second Avenue. “I have to admit that was I was gutted to see the shop had closed down, and even more so, when I heard it had occurred only a few months before my trip. In May 2009, there were still some signs of the shop’s existence, though most of the windows including the door had been boarded up.” Mark adds, “I soon realised that disappointments, whether they be the lack of places that still exist, or if modifications have been made to a location or building that use to look slightly different, were a big part of scouting film locations. New York construction waits for no one, and the skyline of Manhattan as well as its Streets and Avenues are forever changing. A perfect example of this is the Meatpacking District. Once a very rundown area, full of market-selling units and dodgy apartment buildings, now a luxurious area filled with expensive design shops, lavish restaurants and high-end apartment buildings.”

Chelsea Hotel

Chelsea Hotel

The Meatpacking area was featured in the film, ‘Fatal Attraction’ and was where Glenn Close’s character Alex had a rundown apartment. “To match this area, in particular Little 12th Street and Washington Street, as to how it once looked in the 1980s, against its current form, you simply wouldn’t recognise it, and in a way it is very sad, because this area had so much history and was extremely photogenic with is broken facade and graffiti covered walls, whereas now, it looks much like any other new development with its glass covered high-rises and designer shops and restaurants.”

Another film that featured New York’s Meatpacking District was ‘Coyote Ugly’ starring a host of new faces; Piper Perabo, Adam Garcia, John Goodman, Maria Bello, Izabella Miko and runway supermodel Tyra Banks. “This film unitised the Meatpacking area so well,” says Mark. “Coyote Ugly was the name of the bar, and it was based on the real bar by the same name, situated at 153 First Avenue between East 9th and 10th Streets, though for this film, the exterior of a beaten up unit on 13th Street just beneath what would eventually become the Highline was used.”

The location for the fictional Coyote Ugly bar in the Meatpacking District

The location for the fictional Coyote Ugly bar in the Meatpacking District

Meatpacking District in New York City

New contruction in the Meatpacking District

Soon after the film was completed, the area was selected for redevelopment, and by the time Mark visited in 2009, changes had already begun. “It was difficult to match up where the fictional bar entrance had once been, and even more so when I returned in 2011. My last trip was in 2015, and a tall glass tower block at the corner of West 13th Street and Washington was in under construction erasing any sign of what would have been.”

Another victim of the new development was the Hogs and Heifers bar just opposite. Originally opened in 1992, the bar was used in the 2001 film, ‘Someone Like You’ starring Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman. It officially closed in 2015, and is now a retail unit.

The Hogs and Heifers bar that used to be at the corner of Washington Street and West 13th Street

In the final article of this series, Mark talks about the otsoNY website, its design and what the future holds.


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