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New York City's Most Iconic Buildings, As Seen on Film

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As long as there have been movies, there have been movies set in NYC. The city has inspired countless filmmakers, who've showcased the beauty and grit of the five boroughs on the silver screen. Some of the city's most iconic buildings have served as inspiration, too—what would King Kong have been without the Empire State Building, or Ghostbusters without the Gothic spires of 55 Central Park West? So here, you'll find 11 of the city's best structures as represented on film. You'll notice that there's some overlap between this list and our list of New York City's most iconic buildings, published earlier this week; but it's hard to argue with the importance of places like the New York Public Library or the Statue of Liberty, whether in real life or on celluloid. And we've undoubtedly left off some good ones—feel free to sound off in the comments, or hit the tipline.


· New York City's Most Iconic Buildings, Mapped [Curbed]
· Curbed Maps Archive [Curbed]

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Empire State Building

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New York City's most famous building has shown up in countless films (including Sleepless in Seattle, Independence Day, and Andy Warhol's Empire, but its first appearance came when the skyscraper was just two years old. In King Kong, released in 1933, the titular monster climbs to the top of the Empire State Building, with actress Fay Wray in tow, only to be shot down by planes. (The subsequent Kong remakes also featured the tower, but nowhere near as memorably as the original.) [Image via onthesetofnewyork.com]

World Trade Center

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Before they were destroyed in the September 11 attacks, the Twin Towers were an indelible part of the NYC skyline—and of pop culture. From the time they were completed in the 1970s, the skyscrapers appeared in dozens of films set in the city—Superman, Escape From New York, The Wiz, and even more. And this week, the Twin Towers are back on the big screen in The Walk, the Robert Zemeckis-directed fictionalized account of Philippe Petit's famous high-wire walk between the two buildings. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays the French daredevil, whose story was first depicted in the documentary Man on Wire. [Image courtesy Sony Pictures]

The Dakota

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This iconic Upper West Side apartment building was memorably used as the setting for the horror flick Rosemary's Baby, though it was called the Bramford in the movie. Protagonist Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) is targeted by a coven within the building to carry the Son of Satan; things, unsurprisingly, go downhill for her throughout the film. [Image via Scouting NY]

Statue of Liberty

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Filmmakers sure do enjoy destroying Lady Liberty through the magic of special effects. The Statue of Liberty has been blown up, decapitated, or otherwise damaged in movies as diverse as Ghostbusters, Escape From New York, Cloverfield, and Children of Men. But none of those beats Charlton Heston's over-the-top performance in the original Planet of the Apes, when he discovers the Statue buried in sand, and realized he's been stuck on Earth all along. "You maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you all to hell!" [Image via Wikipedia]

American Museum of Natural History

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Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale was named for this iconic institution's famed exhibit in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. But the most popular depiction of the museum on film is surely in A Night At the Museum, the Ben Stiller flick based on a children's book of the same name. Alas, most of it was filmed on a soundstage, but the movie does get some of the details—like the wooly mammoth and the statue of President Theodore Roosevelt—correct. [Image via Wikipedia]

Brooklyn Bridge

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In the film It Happened in Brooklyn, Frank Sinatra famously croons these words of the Brooklyn Bridge: "All the folks in Manhattan are sad/'Cause they look at her and wish they had/The good old Brooklyn Bridge." The beloved East River crossing appears in many other films: The Seige, The French Connection, and On the Town, pictured. [Image via onthesetofnewyork.com]

Macy's will forever be synonymous with Miracle on 34th Street—and not just because the department store continues to reference the 1947 flick in ad campaigns and Christmas promotions, year after year. The story of the real Santa was filmed on location at Macy's, but a 1994 remake wasn't so lucky: Because Macy's declined to participate, that film (which starred Mara Wilson) was largely shot in Chicago. [Image via onthesetofnewyork.com]

Tiffany & Co.

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"The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there." So says Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) of Tiffany & Co., the store she goes to when she gets the "mean reds." The film, based on Truman Capote's novella, forever cemented Tiffany's as a New York City icon (and a place where Hepburn-besotted young women would go to gawk).

Hook & Ladder 8

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Many iconic New York locations are used in Ghostbusters—Tavern on the Green, Columbia University, 55 Central Park West—but perhaps the most memorable is Tribeca's Hook & Ladder 8, where the spirit-fighting quartet made their headquarters. [Image via Scouting NY]

New York Public Library

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The New York Public Library is also a major location in Ghostbusters, when the titular paranormal fighters have to defeat a ghost in the stacks. The Beaux Arts structure's beautiful lion sculptures also feature prominently in The Wiz (pictured); Dorothy (Diana Ross) and her gang encounter the Cowardly Lion (Ted Ross) hiding inside either Patience or Fortitude.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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When Harry Met Sally is perhaps Nora Ephron's greatest love letter to the city, with locations like Central Park, Washington Square Park, and, memorably, Katz's Delicatessen prominently featured. But for our money, one of the best scenes is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The autumnal scene in the park shot through the huge windows of the Temple of Dendur is positively beautiful. [Image via onthesetofnewyork.com]

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Empire State Building

New York City's most famous building has shown up in countless films (including Sleepless in Seattle, Independence Day, and Andy Warhol's Empire, but its first appearance came when the skyscraper was just two years old. In King Kong, released in 1933, the titular monster climbs to the top of the Empire State Building, with actress Fay Wray in tow, only to be shot down by planes. (The subsequent Kong remakes also featured the tower, but nowhere near as memorably as the original.) [Image via onthesetofnewyork.com]

World Trade Center

Before they were destroyed in the September 11 attacks, the Twin Towers were an indelible part of the NYC skyline—and of pop culture. From the time they were completed in the 1970s, the skyscrapers appeared in dozens of films set in the city—Superman, Escape From New York, The Wiz, and even more. And this week, the Twin Towers are back on the big screen in The Walk, the Robert Zemeckis-directed fictionalized account of Philippe Petit's famous high-wire walk between the two buildings. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays the French daredevil, whose story was first depicted in the documentary Man on Wire. [Image courtesy Sony Pictures]

The Dakota

This iconic Upper West Side apartment building was memorably used as the setting for the horror flick Rosemary's Baby, though it was called the Bramford in the movie. Protagonist Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) is targeted by a coven within the building to carry the Son of Satan; things, unsurprisingly, go downhill for her throughout the film. [Image via Scouting NY]

Statue of Liberty

Filmmakers sure do enjoy destroying Lady Liberty through the magic of special effects. The Statue of Liberty has been blown up, decapitated, or otherwise damaged in movies as diverse as Ghostbusters, Escape From New York, Cloverfield, and Children of Men. But none of those beats Charlton Heston's over-the-top performance in the original Planet of the Apes, when he discovers the Statue buried in sand, and realized he's been stuck on Earth all along. "You maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you all to hell!" [Image via Wikipedia]

American Museum of Natural History

Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale was named for this iconic institution's famed exhibit in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. But the most popular depiction of the museum on film is surely in A Night At the Museum, the Ben Stiller flick based on a children's book of the same name. Alas, most of it was filmed on a soundstage, but the movie does get some of the details—like the wooly mammoth and the statue of President Theodore Roosevelt—correct. [Image via Wikipedia]

Brooklyn Bridge

In the film It Happened in Brooklyn, Frank Sinatra famously croons these words of the Brooklyn Bridge: "All the folks in Manhattan are sad/'Cause they look at her and wish they had/The good old Brooklyn Bridge." The beloved East River crossing appears in many other films: The Seige, The French Connection, and On the Town, pictured. [Image via onthesetofnewyork.com]

Macy's

Macy's will forever be synonymous with Miracle on 34th Street—and not just because the department store continues to reference the 1947 flick in ad campaigns and Christmas promotions, year after year. The story of the real Santa was filmed on location at Macy's, but a 1994 remake wasn't so lucky: Because Macy's declined to participate, that film (which starred Mara Wilson) was largely shot in Chicago. [Image via onthesetofnewyork.com]

Tiffany & Co.

"The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there." So says Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) of Tiffany & Co., the store she goes to when she gets the "mean reds." The film, based on Truman Capote's novella, forever cemented Tiffany's as a New York City icon (and a place where Hepburn-besotted young women would go to gawk).

Hook & Ladder 8

Many iconic New York locations are used in Ghostbusters—Tavern on the Green, Columbia University, 55 Central Park West—but perhaps the most memorable is Tribeca's Hook & Ladder 8, where the spirit-fighting quartet made their headquarters. [Image via Scouting NY]

New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is also a major location in Ghostbusters, when the titular paranormal fighters have to defeat a ghost in the stacks. The Beaux Arts structure's beautiful lion sculptures also feature prominently in The Wiz (pictured); Dorothy (Diana Ross) and her gang encounter the Cowardly Lion (Ted Ross) hiding inside either Patience or Fortitude.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

When Harry Met Sally is perhaps Nora Ephron's greatest love letter to the city, with locations like Central Park, Washington Square Park, and, memorably, Katz's Delicatessen prominently featured. But for our money, one of the best scenes is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The autumnal scene in the park shot through the huge windows of the Temple of Dendur is positively beautiful. [Image via onthesetofnewyork.com]