With Baz Luhrmann's remake of seminal novel The Great Gatsby out tomorrow (trailer!), everyone's gone mad for the 1920s all over again. Lavish theme parties, mood music, flapper-esque costumes from Prada and bejeweled diadems a la Tiffany's... and the list goes on. But what about its geography? Sure, this is fiction, and F. Scott Fitzgerald was apparently not overly concerned with accuracy while working on the novel across the pond in France and Italy. But to look at the city through Gatsby-colored glasses is to see it at a romantic, decidedly different time, and that's why we made this map: nostalgia.
The novel is set in the New York of 1922, and Midwestern transplant Nick Carraway, his enigmatic neighbor Jay Gatsby, and societal creme de la creme Daisy and Tom Buchanan and golf star Jordan Baker divide their time between the North Shore of Long Island and the city, where they eat, drink, drive, flirt, and generally live the good life?embracing very kind of vapid values and utter carelessness that Fitzgerald ultimately skewers by the end. But man, did they have a good time doing it. "I began to like New York," Carraway, our narrator, says, "the racy adventurous feel of it at night and the satisfaction that the constant flicker of men and women and machines gives to the restless eye." (So maybe not that much has changed.)
Much of the plotline takes place in West and East Egg?modern-day Great Neck and Port Washington, respectively?which is excluded from our blog's purview. But characters frequent Manhattan and even the no-man's-land middle ground of Flushing, Queens, to further their debauchery, carry on affairs both illicit and endearing, and battle out their most intense arguments.
"As a social historian, Fitzgerald utilized real places and real details for the denotations and connotations these references generated in informed readers," writes the late F. Scott expert Matthew J. Bruccoli. "As an impressionist, Fitzgerald sought to convey, by means of language and style, the emotions associated with actual and fictional settings." So the inclusion of places like the Plaza Hotel and the Yale Club, and areas from Central Park to Washington Heights, were completely intentional. Here now, 19 real-world NYC counterparts to locations in The Great Gatsby, complete with excerpts that shed some light on a bygone era, one that was defined by so much more than parties.
· An Index to The Great Gatsby [brtom.org]
· NYC Buildings Where Great Literary Works Were Written [Curbed]
· All Curbed Maps [Curbed]
?All photos except Flushing Meadows-Corona Park via the Museum of the City of New York; park photo via Wikimedia Commons