The Upper East side is perhaps the most elegant and exclusive district of the whole island of Manhattan. It covers a rectangular area that runs from 59th Street to 96th Street, for the long side, and from the East River bank to Central Park (5th Avenue), for the short side.
In this district there is the highest concentration of stately mansions, prestigious boutiques and wealthy residents. Here also passes the most famous and most popular stretch of 5th Avenue by tourists (Museum Mile), as it is dotted with some of the most authoritative museums in the world.
- Would you like to know more? Read our guide to all the things to see on NY's Upper East Side
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- Route map
- The Twenty-fifth hour
- Kramer versus Kramer
- The Devil wears Prada and Breakfast at Tiffany's
- Serendipity, A Mermaid in Manhattan and Nine XNUMX/XNUMX Weeks
- One day… by chance and again Serendipity
- Mom, I flew the plane, Donnie Brasco and Shock Therapy
- Escape the city, Spider-Man and Leon
The Twenty-fifth hour
From Spike Lee's absolute masterpiece "The Twenty-fifth hour"(2002), Monty Brogan (Edward Norton), the protagonist, summarizes his personal point of view on the inhabitants of the rich neighborhood in one of the greatest monologues of the film epic:
“Fuck the ladies of the Upper East Side, with their Hermès scarves and their $ 50 Balducci artichokes; with their silicone pumped faces, made up, lacquered and lifted. You can't fool anyone, old witches!… ".
From dawn to dawn, the film recounts the protagonist's last day of freedom with fierce clarity and delicate narrative poetry, lived in fear of tomorrow and in the constant regret of a past thrown to the winds. At 154 89th Street, between 3rd Avenue and Lexington Avenue, you find the(1) home of Monty and Naturelle Riviera (Rosario Dawson), bought with the conspicuous proceeds of illicit activities.
In the opening scenes of the film, on the entrance steps, Monty first meets Naturelle, who is sitting waiting for her to return home, and, subsequently, Kosty (Tony Siragusa), her right arm, who, waiting for her arrival, he crudely tries to lure the wealthy passing women: "Come here! I'll make you a half-Russian, half-black child!… Full of beautiful duonnas… ”.
Here we are in the residential heart of the area, Yorkville. Citizens who want to jog or just enjoy some greenery can choose between the immense Central Park, to the west, beyond 5th Avenue, or the more restrained Carl Schurz Park, overlooking the river, to the east.
To reach this last precious green oasis, walk along one of the many tree-lined avenues that hide between the great avenues of Manhattan until you reach East End Avenue, between 89th Street and 88th Street, where you will see stairways that sneak into the park.
At the end of the same, you can see the (2) Gracie Mansion, a historic federal-style villa from the end of the eighteenth century which, for half a century, has been the official residence of the Mayor of New York. It can be visited, but it is necessary to book. In the movie "City Hall”(1996), John Pappas (Al Pacino), playing the role of the mayor of New York, resides in this house.
Enter the park from the 87th Street entrance, and as you advance along the short drive, you will find yourself catapulted into the vibrant final scene of the aforementioned Spike Lee film. Monty, along with his longtime friends Jacob (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Frank (Barry Pepper), both of whom have been by his side all night, take an unexpected farewell under the(3) arco del Carl Schurz Park, which you will see silhouetted in front of you.
The benches on which they sit at the crack of dawn were placed specifically for the film, but the lush widening that ends the blind driveway is just as it is. In the center of the clearing, there is a loggia overflowing with floral plants that surround a minute statue depicting Peter Pan. Those who loved this scene, the apogee of the feature film, will surely feel an intimate and exciting complicity with the place.
A last laconic image of the same film shot in this park is the contemplative walk along the riverside at the beginning of the film. Monty stops at one of the many benches with his (Mr. Doyle) dog on (4) John Finley Walk; to reach the promenade, go around the arch following one of the many runners who opt for a run with a view of theEast River.
Stroll south along the riverside, stopping near the Roosevelt Lighthouse (lighthouse) that your gaze will cross on the left. Sit for a moment to admire Roosevelt Island floating on the placid waters of the East River; you will only be disturbed by the passage of industrious barges and the more or less breathless footsteps of exercise lovers.
Walk along the Promenade dedicated to John Finley (emeritus professor of Princeton University) heading south to its conclusion. Heading downtown, leaving the river behind, you will begin to glimpse well-maintained restaurants, bakeries and sophisticated cafes near 2nd Avenue.
Kramer versus Kramer
At 1568 2nd Avenue, there is a New York cabaret institution, the Comic Strip Live. From here many comedians have passed who subsequently made the great leap from the stage of this small venue to the cinema or television. Among the many celebrities, whose faces can be seen on the walls of the club, have performed: Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld and Eddy Murphy, just to name a few.
Continuing on 3rd Avenue, at number 1291 stands the (5) J.G. Melon, a local historian founded in 1972 which owes part of its notoriety, in addition to its succulent burgers usually accompanied by tasty Bloody Marys, also to the film "Kramer versus Kramer"(1979).
In fact, in one of the internal tables, all rigorously set with white and green checkered tablecloths, Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) and Joanna Kramer (Meryl Streep) meet to discuss the conflict that has gripped them since she, unnerved by the prolonged regardless of her husband, she decides to leave home also giving up love and daily contact with their little son Billy.
The scene, charged with tension, fully reflects the prodigious proof of the couple who they both won Oscars (best lead actor, him; best supporting actress, her).
Try to take a seat at one of the tables and enjoy a special lunch at JG Melon, an authentic New York landmark. Among the many notable reviews, the Michelin guide described the restaurant with the following words:
“Posterity will remember JG Melon as a classic and coveted New York institution. Make your way into this cave nestled in a cozy corner on the Upper East Side, where the timeless atmosphere and cheerful staff create much of its charm. "
The Devil wears Prada and Breakfast at Tiffany's
Neither "The devil wears Prada"(2006), where the(6) Miranda Presley's (Meryl Streep) apartment if not in the exclusive Upper East side? The influential and authoritative director of Runway, in fact, resides in the magnificent mansion at number 129 of 73rd Street, between Lexington and Park Avenue. Andrea (Anne Hathaway) has the task of cautiously penetrating inside and having her deliver the dummy of the magazine.
The next cinematic stage in which one encounters continuing along the indicated itinerary concerns another legendary film: "Breakfast at Tiffany's"(1961). To the number 169 at 71st Street is the outside of the(7) apartment of Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) and her new neighbor Paul Varjak (George Peppard).
Returning on foot after having consumed the famous breakfast in front of the shop Tiffany & Co, realizes that he has lost his house keys. She is therefore forced to ring the neighbor, the Japanese "little man", who, after opening the door, verbally scolds her from the top of the stairwell:
"Mrs. Golightly: I protest! (…) She lost it the other day too, and she always keep ringing my bell! (…) You disturb, then have the key done again! ”. The divine Audrey replies candidly: "But it would be useless, I lose them all!".
The massive green door and stone stairs are still very similar to how they are seen in the film.
Serendipity, A Mermaid in Manhattan and Nine XNUMX/XNUMX Weeks
Go down to the area of Lenox hill choosing to continue on 3rd Avenue or moving to parallel Lexington Avenue. Crossing 60th Street you will meet (8) Bloomingdale’s, the temple of shopping in the area. Department stores take up an entire block in Lexington between 59th and 60th. Some scenes of many Hollywood productions were shot between its departments.
In the movie "Serendipity"(2001), for example, Jonathan Trager (John Cusack) and Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) meet in the accessories department intent on buying gloves for their respective partners, when a normal pre-Christmas shopping becomes a romantic ode . Also, Allen Bauer (Tom Hanks) and Madison (Daryl Hannah) sneak into the mall in the comedy "Splash – Una Sirena a Manhattan”(1984), directed by Ron Howard and completely shot in the Big Apple.
One last film to mention, always linked to this large shopping center, is "Nine and ½ weeks" (1989). The crazy fantasies underlying the passionate love story between John Gray (Mickey Rourke) and Elizabeth McGraw (Kim Basinger) also range from stealing a pendulum in the jewelry department and a fake purchase of a double bed in the furniture department.
Take a few moments for shopping; Bloomingdale's is certainly one of the most suitable places in the whole city. Among its departments you can find, in addition to the big names in the world of clothing, also costume jewelery, accessories and household items shops.
One day… by chance and again Serendipity
A few more steps on 60th Street and you will find the (9) Serendipity 3, at number 225. Entering this bizarre restaurant is like entering wonderland. Art deco chandeliers of different shapes and sizes hang in a disparate way on the ceiling of both floors and gigantic clocks with lots of mirrored portholes are scattered on the walls.
A riot of colors, lace and trinkets. It is a place full of extravagance and frequented since the 50s by many artists and celebrities: from Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol e Grace Kelly fino a Melanie Griffith, Ron Howard, Beyoncé e Kim Kardashian. The strengths of the restaurant's rich menu are the nutritious, super-caloric and gigantic desserts: the “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate” is legendary; his recipe can be found in the book Sweet Serendipity sold at the store of the same restaurant. The place thanks to its glorious history as much as its ice creams and desserts, has been the scene of some famous cinema productions.
The interior of the room appears in "One day… by chance”(1996), with George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer. The sentimental comedy follows the intersection of the lives of parents Melanie Parker (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Jack Taylor (George Clooney), both single with a dependent child and busy workers. The original title derives from the 1963 homonymous song "One Fine Day" by The Chiffons, featured in the soundtrack of the film itself. Obviously, in the Serendipity 3 restaurant, the homonymous "Serendipity"(2001); the restaurant is in fact the central place of the love story between Jonathan and Sara. Ask for the "star table" if you want to sit right where the inside scenes were shot.
Taking 1st Avenue, at number 1152, you will find the mythical (10) Baker Street Pub, where you can also dine but, above all, enjoy many cocktails!
Numerous scenes of “Cocktail” (1988) whose story centers on the ambition of the young Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) who is applying to become the apprentice bartender of the more experienced Douglas 'Doug' Coughlin (Bryan Brown):
“You're in the Upper East Side, the club capital of the world… the best of the best! Think you can get by young Flanagan? ".
After a quick but tiring break-in, the new pair of bartenders perform every day with enormous success, because: “(…) There is no better way to get high, than to stay behind 90 centimeters of mahogany!”. The two delight the patrons by playing sleight of hand with the tools of the trade: shakers, bottles of liquor and lots of ice. Their fame grows more and more and the Upper East Side bar becomes an institution especially for the attractive, bored and wealthy women of the Big Apple.
The bar structure remained identical to the film. Some renewal does not prevent one from reliving the scenes of the 80s cult in one's mind and imagining that Brian or Doug serving the drink ordered at the counter after paraphrasing a poem with an alcoholic background.
Many have dreamed of being a "Brian Flanagan", a charming seducer and casual king of the New York night and nightlife. Coughlin's Law: "Anything, is always something better!"
Mom, I flew the plane, Donnie Brasco and Shock Therapy
From 1st Avenue, at the intersection with 60th Street, the sumptuous and imposing can be seen (11) Queensboro Bridge. This engineering gem, immortalized in countless films, connects the island of Manhattan to Queens. Among the many films shot 40 meters above the river, we can mention: "Mom I flew the plane: I got lost New York"(1992),"Donnie Brasco"(1997) and"Terapia d'urto"(2003).
In the first, little Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), not at all afraid of having landed in a location other than that of his family, boldly crosses this bridge aboard a taxi to reach Manhattan, galvanized by the idea of spending a few days vacation alone.
Nel gangster-movie “Donnie Brasco”, The two protagonists, the mafioso Benjamin“ Lefty ”Ruggiero (Al Pacino) and the infiltrator Joseph D. Pistone / Donnie Brasco (Johnny Depp), cross the bridge on their way to an appointment with some of the leaders of the organization. On the way Lefty nervously tries to explain to Donnie that:
“In the Cosa Nostra, if someone summons you, you are alive when you enter and you are dead when you leave… and it is your best friend who liquidates you! (…) ”…“ What am I going to tell you to do !! ”.
In "Terapia d'urto”, Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson), dangerously pulling the handbrake, nails the car of his client David“ Dave ”Buznik (Adam Sandler) in the middle of the bridge. The psychiatrist demands, for therapeutic purposes, that poor Dave sing along with him a song from "West Side Story".
Escape the city, Spider-Man and Leon
Alongside the Queensboro Bridge, it travels parallel to and suspended there (12) Roosevelt Island Tramway, cable car that connects the homonymous island to Manhattan. The cableway has been immortalized in the sequences of at least three famous films: "Escape from the city - Life, love and cows"(1991),"Spider-Man"(2002) and"Leon"(1994).
If you want to experience the unique experience of flying over and literally wedging yourself among the skyscrapers of Manhattan, take a round trip on this efficient connection that has been in operation since 1976: the stop in Manhattan is located at the intersection of 60th Street and 2nd Avenue.
In the hilarious comedy, whose original name is City slickers (translated into Spanish it would sound more or less like “city jocks”), Mitch Robbins (Billy Cristal) usually uses the gondola to go to the office every day and unhappily. In the action movie, however, the Marvel superhero slings onto the deck in an attempt to make a double recovery: save both the lives of some kids trapped in the cabin, and that of the beautiful Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).
Finally, in Luc Besson's masterpiece, little Mathilda (Natalie Portman) gets on the original means of transport in the company of her thoughts alone.
The itinerary must close by paying homage to a genuine New Yorker. A director and actor who through his masterpieces has told and shown the thousand faces of his hometown: Woody Allen.
The tour on the Upper East side therefore ends with the iconic poster of "Manhattan"(1979) in which we can see the two interpreters, Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) and Mary Wilke (Diane Keaton), seated from behind on the (13) bench facing the river crossed by the Queensboro Bridge.
The amusing comedy, linear and immersed in the usual "Allenian" romanticism, opens with a sequence of images of the Big Apple; the voiceover, that of the protagonist Isaac Davis, known as Ike, recites one of the possible opening words of the book he is writing: “He loves New York City (…)”.
“Manhattan” (1979) exhibits and gives prestige to Manhattan, the absolute protagonist of the film. Here a unique complicity emerges between the story and the metropolis, whose extraordinary photography constitutes its mortar. Woody Allen said:
It is my romantic and personal view of life in Manhattan. I like to think that if people see it in a hundred years, they will learn something about life in the city in the seventies.
Allen decided to shoot in black and white because, as he himself puts it: “Maybe it's reminiscent of old photographs, movies, books and all that kind of stuff. But that's how I remember New York. ”.
That bench is perhaps not exactly the same, indeed, before the film, there weren't any benches at all; the magic of the place, however, has remained intact. We are a Sutton Square, Upper East Side (final part of 58th Street). Go there in the evening, or at night, even better, when, right on that famous seat, some couples exchange grief.
Il Queensboro bridge you will find it illuminated in front of you. Its sparkling lights reflected in the water of the East River will warm your heart. Relax for a few minutes enjoying that peaceful corner in the heart of the ever-bustling Manhattan. Think again about the steaming manholes, skyscrapers, buildings, parks and cafes you encountered along the way today. All elements that come alive and relive in the mind after having collected and archived them over the years through the small or large screen.Read all the other cinematic itineraries