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1928: New York, showing Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.
Keystone/Getty Images

Mapping The 1920s New York City Of The Great Gatsby

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1928: New York, showing Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.
| Keystone/Getty Images

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

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1. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

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What's now this park was formerly home to "the valley of ashes," where Tom Buchanan's mistress, the ill-fated Myrtle, and her husband Wilson lived near his car-repair shop. It was, at the time, where the Long Island Railroad tracks came up alongside the highway between West Egg and the city, now Northern Boulevard. It was a dump, according to late Fitzgerald expert Matthew J. Bruccoli, who described it in the book's endnotes as a "swamp that was being filled with ashes, garbage, and manure." Flushing was apparently also the home of Fitzgerald acquaintance and used-car salesman Max Gerlach, who probably introduced F. Scott to the expression "old sport" (Gatsby's catchphrase) and who, unfortunately, shot himself in 1939. The parallels to Wilson in profession, area of residence, and personal details are likely not an accident.

2. Flushing Bay

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Moving Target!
Queens, NY

Along the Long Island Railroad, the no-man's-land valley of ashes that is now Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (see map point #1) was, according to narrator Nick Carraway, "bounded on one side by a small foul river, and when the drawbridge is up to let barges through, passengers on waiting trains can stare at the dismal scene for as long as half an hour." (We're not sure the bay is any less foul now... ) Imaginary Port Roosevelt, where Wilson stops when he's on a murderous rampage, must have been in Queens, near this bay's Barge Canal Terminal in Queens.

3. Queensboro Bridge

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Queensboro Bridge
Queens, NY 11101

The bridge was the last hurdle for the Long Islanders before they reached their beloved Manhattan, driving their fancy cars at top speed toward the parties and festivities ahead. Crossing it was a significant, empowering moment, as narrator Nick Carraway observes: "Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen from Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.... 'Anything can happen now that we've slid across this bridge,' I thought. 'Anything at all.'"

4. Blackwell's Island

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Roosevelt Island
New York, NY 10044

Referenced in the book as Blackwell's Island (its old name), because characters continuously passed over it in order to get into the city, this East River land mass was known for "a penitentiary (1832-1935), lunatic asylum, and several hospitals."

5. Pennsylvania Station (The Old One)

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1 Penn Plz
New York, NY 10119

When West and East Eggers don't drive, they take the train from Long Island, which deposits them right at the old Penn Station. Nick frequently commutes via this old NYC icon; and Tom Buchanan's mistress, Myrtle Wilson, buys magazines at the newsstand there as well as perfume and cold cream from the station drugstore. Nick, after a long night at a house party with those two, finds himself "lying half asleep in the cold lower level of the Pennsylvania Station, staring at the morning's 'Tribune' and waiting for the four o'clock train." Some things don't change, do they...

6. Yale Club of New York City

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50 Vanderbilt Ave
New York, NY 10017
(212) 716-2100
Visit Website

At the end of native Midwesterner Nick's sometimes lonely days working in the city as a bond salesman, he retreats to his alma mater's club on Vanderbilt Avenue (where it still is today). It was an unusual respite of scholarly solitude: "I took dinner usually at the Yale Club—for some reason it was the gloomiest event of my day—and then I went upstairs to the library and studied investments and securities for a conscientious hour. There were generally a few rioters around, but they never came into the library, so it was a good place to work."

7. Murray Hill Hotel

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Anywhere!
New York, NY 10016

Nick Carraway's nightly commute progressed from the Yale Club over to Penn, passing this grand Victorian lodging house: "If the night was mellow, I strolled down Madison Avenue past the old Murray Hill Hotel and over Thirty-Third Street to the Pennsylvania Station."

8. The 40s near Fifth Avenue

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10 E 40th St
New York, NY 10016

Nick's commute continues, giving us a sense of the vitality of 1920s street life. Nick, like all New Yorkers, harbored fantasies about total strangers, as he was at once surrounded by people and at the same time not able to shake a sense of isolation: "I liked to walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter their lives, and no one would ever know or disapprove. Sometimes, in my mind, I followed them back to their apartments on corners of hidden streets, and they turned and smiled back at me before they faded through a door into warm darkness. At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes..." That sense of disconnectedness and soullessness amid the busy city continues as Nick walks towards Penn: "Again at eight o'clock, when the dark lanes of the Forties were five deep with throbbing taxi cabs, bound for the theater district, I felt a sinking in my heart. Forms leaned together in the taxis as they waited, and voices sang, and there was laughter from unheard jokes, and lighted cigarettes outlined unintelligible gestures inside." Nick, in this moment, feels excluded from the city's private, exclusive, hard-to-crack social scene.

9. National Biscuit Company

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The National Biscuit Company, now called Nabisco, had several cookie-making plants and factories in West Chelsea (in particular, where Chelsea Market is now). During one of Carraway's hot summertime commutes between West Egg and Penn Station, which apparently, in his world, passed through Chelsea, "[o]nly the hot whistles of the National Biscuit Company broke the simmering hush at noon."

10. "The Old Metropole"

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147 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

A hotel on 43rd Street and Broadway (apparently the first to be entirely kitted out with running water in every room) that was home to a notorious murder. Gatsby and Meyer Wolfsheim wax nostalgic about their old hangout ("filled with faces dead and gone... filled with friends gone now forever"), even though it was built in 1912, only 10 years before the novel is set. (The occurrence of World War I in the interim undoubtedly changed the vibe for regulars.) It is nearby, in an unnamed "well-fanned Forty-second Street cellar," where Gatsby and Nick have lunch and run into Wolfsheim. Wolfsheim and Gatsby also met for the first time on 43rd Street, at the fictional Winebrenner's poolroom, when Gatsby was poor and just out of the army.

11. New Amsterdam Theater

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This is where Florenz Ziegfeld's show full of showgirls, "Follies," was performed in the 1920s. Starlet Gilda Gray's understudy was a much-buzzed about attendee at one of Gatsby's West Egg soirees. In fact, lots of "theatrical people" came to Gatsby's beachfront ragers.

12. Carnegie Hall

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152 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019

The famed concert hall opened in 1891, and in the book it is where where made-up composer Vladimir Tostoff's made-up piece, the "Jazz History of the World," was allegedly performed to much fanfare, making all the papers and causing "a big sensation." An orchestra at one of Gatsby's parties plays the composition, boosting the bacchanal to new levels of ridiculousness.

13. 50th Street

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In search of a place to go to escape the summer heat, Jordan Baker suggest the big cinemas around 50th Street. Midtown then, as now, was almost gloriously stifling that time of year. "I love New York on summer afternoons when everyone's away," Baker comments. "There's something very sensuous about it—overripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands."

14. The Plaza

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768 5th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 759-3000
Visit Website

The iconic hotel is where Nick Carraway has tea with Jordan Baker, and, later, where the whole gang gathers on a hot summer day in the parlor of a suite for some raucous arguments between Gatsby and Tom Buchanan over Daisy that precede a sad accident on the way home to Long Island. It turned out that their attempt to beat the heat merely resulted in more heat: "The notion originated with Daisy's suggestion that we hire five bathrooms and take cold baths, and then assumed more tangible form as 'a place to have a mint julep.'... The room was large and stifling, and, though it was already four o'clock, opening the windows only admitted a gust of hot shrubbery from the Park."

15. Central Park

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59th St to 110th St
New York, NY 10028
(212) 310-6600
Visit Website

Nick Carraway and on-again/off-again flame golf pro Jordan Baker go on a romantic evening drive "in a Victoria" (an old-school car, one presumes). It was an ideal setting for some flirtin': "The sun had gone down behind the tall apartments of the movie stars in the West Fifties and the clear voices of little girls, already gathered like crickets on the grass, rose through the hot twilight... It was dark now and as we dipped under a little bridge I put my arm around Jordan's golden shoulder and drew her to me... We passed a barrier of dark trees, and then the facade of Fifty-ninth Street, a block of delicate pale light, beamed down into the Park."

16. Fifth Avenue, by the Park

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5th Ave.
New York, NY 10009

"We drove over to Fifth Avenue, so warm and soft, almost pastoral, on the summer Sunday afternoon that I wouldn't have been surprised to see a great flock of white sheep turn the corner," Nick Carraway narrates.

17. West 158th Street

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This part of Washington Heights is where Myrtle Wilson's urban pied-a-terre is located, on the top floor "a long white cake of apartment houses." It was decorated with oversized tapestried furniture, and in it narrator Nick, Myrtle, her sister, Tom Buchanan, and the McKees (neighbors) get wildly drunk in the middle of the afternoon, all while the apartment remained "full of cheerful sun" till 8 p.m. Welcome to New York, Nick.

18. Financial District

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Anywhere!
New York, NY 10038

Nick Carraway works (somewhat uneasily, it seems) at the made-up Probity Trust company down in the FiDi, amid what he calls "the white chasms of lower New York." He lunches with the clerks and other young bond salesman "in dark crowded restaurants on little pig sausages and mashed potatoes and coffee." (Photo: the Financial District in 1922, the year the novel is set.)

19. Coney Island

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When Nick tells Gatsby that his extravagant mansion looks like a World's Fair, Gatsby suggests that they just hop in the car and go to Coney Island. In many renditions of the novel's cover, including the original pictured, the hazy face of a woman (probably Daisy) is superimposed over some nondescript glowing neon lights. Those lights are roughly taken from or inspired by the Coney Island skyline, according to late Fitzgerald expert Matthew J. Bruccoli.

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1. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Borough of Queens, NY

What's now this park was formerly home to "the valley of ashes," where Tom Buchanan's mistress, the ill-fated Myrtle, and her husband Wilson lived near his car-repair shop. It was, at the time, where the Long Island Railroad tracks came up alongside the highway between West Egg and the city, now Northern Boulevard. It was a dump, according to late Fitzgerald expert Matthew J. Bruccoli, who described it in the book's endnotes as a "swamp that was being filled with ashes, garbage, and manure." Flushing was apparently also the home of Fitzgerald acquaintance and used-car salesman Max Gerlach, who probably introduced F. Scott to the expression "old sport" (Gatsby's catchphrase) and who, unfortunately, shot himself in 1939. The parallels to Wilson in profession, area of residence, and personal details are likely not an accident.

2. Flushing Bay

Moving Target!, Queens, NY

Along the Long Island Railroad, the no-man's-land valley of ashes that is now Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (see map point #1) was, according to narrator Nick Carraway, "bounded on one side by a small foul river, and when the drawbridge is up to let barges through, passengers on waiting trains can stare at the dismal scene for as long as half an hour." (We're not sure the bay is any less foul now... ) Imaginary Port Roosevelt, where Wilson stops when he's on a murderous rampage, must have been in Queens, near this bay's Barge Canal Terminal in Queens.

Moving Target!
Queens, NY

3. Queensboro Bridge

Queensboro Bridge, Queens, NY 11101

The bridge was the last hurdle for the Long Islanders before they reached their beloved Manhattan, driving their fancy cars at top speed toward the parties and festivities ahead. Crossing it was a significant, empowering moment, as narrator Nick Carraway observes: "Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen from Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.... 'Anything can happen now that we've slid across this bridge,' I thought. 'Anything at all.'"

Queensboro Bridge
Queens, NY 11101

4. Blackwell's Island

Roosevelt Island, New York, NY 10044

Referenced in the book as Blackwell's Island (its old name), because characters continuously passed over it in order to get into the city, this East River land mass was known for "a penitentiary (1832-1935), lunatic asylum, and several hospitals."

Roosevelt Island
New York, NY 10044

5. Pennsylvania Station (The Old One)

1 Penn Plz, New York, NY 10119

When West and East Eggers don't drive, they take the train from Long Island, which deposits them right at the old Penn Station. Nick frequently commutes via this old NYC icon; and Tom Buchanan's mistress, Myrtle Wilson, buys magazines at the newsstand there as well as perfume and cold cream from the station drugstore. Nick, after a long night at a house party with those two, finds himself "lying half asleep in the cold lower level of the Pennsylvania Station, staring at the morning's 'Tribune' and waiting for the four o'clock train." Some things don't change, do they...

1 Penn Plz
New York, NY 10119

6. Yale Club of New York City

50 Vanderbilt Ave, New York, NY 10017

At the end of native Midwesterner Nick's sometimes lonely days working in the city as a bond salesman, he retreats to his alma mater's club on Vanderbilt Avenue (where it still is today). It was an unusual respite of scholarly solitude: "I took dinner usually at the Yale Club—for some reason it was the gloomiest event of my day—and then I went upstairs to the library and studied investments and securities for a conscientious hour. There were generally a few rioters around, but they never came into the library, so it was a good place to work."

50 Vanderbilt Ave
New York, NY 10017

7. Murray Hill Hotel

Anywhere!, New York, NY 10016

Nick Carraway's nightly commute progressed from the Yale Club over to Penn, passing this grand Victorian lodging house: "If the night was mellow, I strolled down Madison Avenue past the old Murray Hill Hotel and over Thirty-Third Street to the Pennsylvania Station."

Anywhere!
New York, NY 10016

8. The 40s near Fifth Avenue

10 E 40th St, New York, NY 10016

Nick's commute continues, giving us a sense of the vitality of 1920s street life. Nick, like all New Yorkers, harbored fantasies about total strangers, as he was at once surrounded by people and at the same time not able to shake a sense of isolation: "I liked to walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter their lives, and no one would ever know or disapprove. Sometimes, in my mind, I followed them back to their apartments on corners of hidden streets, and they turned and smiled back at me before they faded through a door into warm darkness. At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes..." That sense of disconnectedness and soullessness amid the busy city continues as Nick walks towards Penn: "Again at eight o'clock, when the dark lanes of the Forties were five deep with throbbing taxi cabs, bound for the theater district, I felt a sinking in my heart. Forms leaned together in the taxis as they waited, and voices sang, and there was laughter from unheard jokes, and lighted cigarettes outlined unintelligible gestures inside." Nick, in this moment, feels excluded from the city's private, exclusive, hard-to-crack social scene.

10 E 40th St
New York, NY 10016

9. National Biscuit Company

New York, NY 10014

The National Biscuit Company, now called Nabisco, had several cookie-making plants and factories in West Chelsea (in particular, where Chelsea Market is now). During one of Carraway's hot summertime commutes between West Egg and Penn Station, which apparently, in his world, passed through Chelsea, "[o]nly the hot whistles of the National Biscuit Company broke the simmering hush at noon."

10. "The Old Metropole"

147 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

A hotel on 43rd Street and Broadway (apparently the first to be entirely kitted out with running water in every room) that was home to a notorious murder. Gatsby and Meyer Wolfsheim wax nostalgic about their old hangout ("filled with faces dead and gone... filled with friends gone now forever"), even though it was built in 1912, only 10 years before the novel is set. (The occurrence of World War I in the interim undoubtedly changed the vibe for regulars.) It is nearby, in an unnamed "well-fanned Forty-second Street cellar," where Gatsby and Nick have lunch and run into Wolfsheim. Wolfsheim and Gatsby also met for the first time on 43rd Street, at the fictional Winebrenner's poolroom, when Gatsby was poor and just out of the army.

147 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

11. New Amsterdam Theater

New York, NY 10001

This is where Florenz Ziegfeld's show full of showgirls, "Follies," was performed in the 1920s. Starlet Gilda Gray's understudy was a much-buzzed about attendee at one of Gatsby's West Egg soirees. In fact, lots of "theatrical people" came to Gatsby's beachfront ragers.

12. Carnegie Hall

152 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

The famed concert hall opened in 1891, and in the book it is where where made-up composer Vladimir Tostoff's made-up piece, the "Jazz History of the World," was allegedly performed to much fanfare, making all the papers and causing "a big sensation." An orchestra at one of Gatsby's parties plays the composition, boosting the bacchanal to new levels of ridiculousness.

152 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019

13. 50th Street

New York, NY 10019

In search of a place to go to escape the summer heat, Jordan Baker suggest the big cinemas around 50th Street. Midtown then, as now, was almost gloriously stifling that time of year. "I love New York on summer afternoons when everyone's away," Baker comments. "There's something very sensuous about it—overripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands."

14. The Plaza

768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019

The iconic hotel is where Nick Carraway has tea with Jordan Baker, and, later, where the whole gang gathers on a hot summer day in the parlor of a suite for some raucous arguments between Gatsby and Tom Buchanan over Daisy that precede a sad accident on the way home to Long Island. It turned out that their attempt to beat the heat merely resulted in more heat: "The notion originated with Daisy's suggestion that we hire five bathrooms and take cold baths, and then assumed more tangible form as 'a place to have a mint julep.'... The room was large and stifling, and, though it was already four o'clock, opening the windows only admitted a gust of hot shrubbery from the Park."

768 5th Ave
New York, NY 10019

15. Central Park

59th St to 110th St, New York, NY 10028

Nick Carraway and on-again/off-again flame golf pro Jordan Baker go on a romantic evening drive "in a Victoria" (an old-school car, one presumes). It was an ideal setting for some flirtin': "The sun had gone down behind the tall apartments of the movie stars in the West Fifties and the clear voices of little girls, already gathered like crickets on the grass, rose through the hot twilight... It was dark now and as we dipped under a little bridge I put my arm around Jordan's golden shoulder and drew her to me... We passed a barrier of dark trees, and then the facade of Fifty-ninth Street, a block of delicate pale light, beamed down into the Park."

59th St to 110th St
New York, NY 10028

16. Fifth Avenue, by the Park

5th Ave., New York, NY 10009

"We drove over to Fifth Avenue, so warm and soft, almost pastoral, on the summer Sunday afternoon that I wouldn't have been surprised to see a great flock of white sheep turn the corner," Nick Carraway narrates.

5th Ave.
New York, NY 10009

17. West 158th Street

New York, NY

This part of Washington Heights is where Myrtle Wilson's urban pied-a-terre is located, on the top floor "a long white cake of apartment houses." It was decorated with oversized tapestried furniture, and in it narrator Nick, Myrtle, her sister, Tom Buchanan, and the McKees (neighbors) get wildly drunk in the middle of the afternoon, all while the apartment remained "full of cheerful sun" till 8 p.m. Welcome to New York, Nick.

18. Financial District

Anywhere!, New York, NY 10038

Nick Carraway works (somewhat uneasily, it seems) at the made-up Probity Trust company down in the FiDi, amid what he calls "the white chasms of lower New York." He lunches with the clerks and other young bond salesman "in dark crowded restaurants on little pig sausages and mashed potatoes and coffee." (Photo: the Financial District in 1922, the year the novel is set.)

Anywhere!
New York, NY 10038

19. Coney Island

Brooklyn, NY 11224

When Nick tells Gatsby that his extravagant mansion looks like a World's Fair, Gatsby suggests that they just hop in the car and go to Coney Island. In many renditions of the novel's cover, including the original pictured, the hazy face of a woman (probably Daisy) is superimposed over some nondescript glowing neon lights. Those lights are roughly taken from or inspired by the Coney Island skyline, according to late Fitzgerald expert Matthew J. Bruccoli.