This weekend sees the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the latest installment in the Harry Potter universe—and the first one to take place in New York City rather than a fictional setting in the U.K. The movie tells the story of Newt Scamander, a magizoologist (so, a wizard who is good with magical creatures) who comes to NYC in 1926 and generally wreaks havoc, instigating fights between the magical community and those who don’t have those skills (known as No-Maj).
Even though the movie takes place in a fictional version of New York City—where witches and wizards hide in plain sight, and a magical shadow government is operating without most No-Majs realizing it—there are plenty of recognizable city locales sprinkled throughout. Here are just five of those, and if we missed one that you loved, let us know in the comments.
The Woolworth Building
Cass Gilbert’s masterful skyscraper, which was the tallest building in the world when it opened in 1913, serves as an appropriately imposing headquarters for the American version of the Ministry of Magic. Known as the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), the governing body moved into the building—according to Pottermore, anyway—once it was completed, with an owl over the entrance serving as the only indicator of its magical secrets. (The owl is, in fact, a part of Gilbert’s original design, and helped J.K. Rowling choose the iconic building as MACUSA’s HQ.)
Old City Hall subway station
The old City Hall subway station still captures the imaginations of many a transit- and architecture-obsessed New Yorker, even though it closed to the public in 1945. It opened to much fanfare in 1904, and would have still been in use in 1926, when Fantastic Beasts takes place. It’s the setting for a magical battle in the movie, but in real life, you can only get a peek on tours through the New York Transit Museum.
The Times Square seen by Newt Scamander and Co. in the movie is definitely different from the Times Square of today—no costumed characters, for one (and, presumably, no magical creatures are there nowadays). But the general idea of why people come to the area is the same; for entertainment, and to be in the center of the city. A new tour given by On Location Tours that explores spots you may have seen in Fantastic Beasts begins at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square.
The Tenement Museum
This Lower East Side museum is located at 97 Orchard Street, in a five-story tenement building that was constructed in 1864. It’s preserved nowadays for walking tours that provide some insight on how neighborhood residents lived at the turn of the 20th century. It also provided the inspiration for many of the homes seen in Fantastic Beasts, including that of Jacob Kowalski, a No-Maj who befriends Newt in the movie.
The Writers House
The home shared by witches (and sisters) Queenie and Tina Goldstein in the movie is based on the townhouse at 21 West 26th Street, which is now the headquarters of a literary agency called Writers House. According to the organization, the 19th-century home—built by the Astor family—is remarkable for its “jewel-like Victorian facade of red brick, polished granite, and ornamental terracotta.”