In recent years, he’s outwardly shown love for European cities like London, Paris, Barcelona and Rome. But legendary director Woody Allen only has one true home, and that’s Manhattan. More specifically, Allen carries a torch for the Upper East Side. Here, we take a look at the parts of the Upper East Side that have been significant in Allen’s movies, and his own life.
Has anyone captured the essence of the Upper East Side on celluloid quite like Woody Allen? The bespectacled director once claimed “the only real value [of my work] is going to be the background scenery.” In a way then, the Upper East Side, along with its storied apartments and townhomes, plays a recurring character of its own in many of Allen’s films.
Allen’s movies are known for their cerebral quality, and nothing says cerebral quite like a discourse on Proust or Hemingway in a bookshop. One of the many featured in Allen’s oeuvre, is Argosy Book Store (it’s in The Front, a film which you might not be familiar with). Perhaps Allen’s most renowned film, Annie Hall used the Beekman movie theater for the scene in which Alvy (played by Allen, who else?) encounters a hostile moviegoer. The Beekman itself, alas, was knocked down, but another movie theater across the way renamed itself Beekman in its honor.
The joyous scene in Hannah and Her Sisters in which Mickey (Allen) realizes he’s free of cancer, and waltzes out onto the street, was filmed at the Mount Sinai Hospital, 1425 Madison Avenue.
In Manhattan, Allen’s character is dating “a girl who does homework”. The school that she goes to is Dalton, one of the UES’ most prestigious. And let’s not forget the Queensboro Bridge (just about within the UES’ demarcation); this features in the iconic scene where Diane Keaton and Allen himself sit on a bench, pondering New York City and life.
Woody Allen’s latest feature Blue Jasmine sees most of the action played out in San Francisco, although watch carefully and you’ll notice Allen has sneaked in mention of a beloved UES joint. In the scene in which Jasmine’s (Cate Blanchett) sister and her husband come to visit, she recommends they try Daniel, the Michelin star restaurant on 60 East and 65th St.
Woody Allen has lived at a number of apartments in the Upper East Side. Most recently, in 2006, he bought a new luxury apartment at East 70th Street. More specifically, the residence in question is a $25.9 million Trowbridge & Livingston townhouse. How much time Allen actually gets to spend at his Upper East Side residence isn’t clear, but it’s always nice to put your feet up in your turn of the century property between shoots.
The Upper East Side’s Carlyle Hotel is a favorite haunt of Woody Allen. While he may not have the need to stay overnight, he puts in regular appearances with his jazz band at the hotel’s Café Carlyle. It’s quite something to think that you can breeze in off the street and have one of modern cinema’s finest directors perform a clarinet solo for you.
Image courtesy of: David Shankbone