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The New York Public Library from “Sex and the City: The Movie”

May 27th, 2010 | By | Category: Jennifer Aniston Locations, Sex and the City Filming Locations

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In honor of today’s big premiere of Sex and The City 2, I thought I’d blog about a location from the original movie that I stalked this past October while I was in Manhattan – the New York Public Library.  And even though I’ve actually blogged about this location once before, since I did not include any interior photographs, I thought the place was definitely worth re-visiting.  In the original Sex and the City movie, Carrie Bradshaw (aka Sarah Jessica Parker) and her fiancé Mr. Big (aka Chris Noth) plan to hold their upcoming nuptials at the library because, as Carrie says, it is “the classic New York landmark that housed all the great love stories”.  The New York Public Library was constructed during the years 1902 through 1911 on the site of the former Croton Reservoir and was designed by the architecture firm Carrere & Hastings.  The Beaux-Arts structure, which is made of white marble and cost $9 million to build, encompasses two full blocks of New York City land and contains 88 miles of shelving which holds over seven million books.  Amazingly enough, any one of those seven million tomes can be requested and delivered to the library’s main circulation desk within a period of ten minutes or less!  The New York Public Library, which was named a National Historic Monument in 1965, is a truly amazing piece of architecture and, being that it is symbolic of the two great loves of Carrie Bradshaw’s life – New York City and writing – it is easy to see why producers chose it as the site of her ill-fated wedding.

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The library shows up twice in Sex and the City: The Movie. It first appears in the scene in which Carrie, while returning the book “Love Letters of Great Men, Volume I”, spots a wedding being set up in the library’s mezzanine.  She immediately decides the place is the perfect location for her own upcoming nuptials.

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That first scene was shot in the extremely beautiful McGraw Rotunda, which is located on the library’s second floor.

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The New York Public Library next appears in the big wedding scene, during which Mr. Big stands Carrie up at the altar.  And I should state here that the wedding scene seriously annoyed me.  I mean, honestly, how many times can we expect Big to screw up before Carrie leaves him for good????  The SATC writers really need to come up with a new way of creating tension, because the whole Big-breaks-Carrie’s-heart thing was already getting old way back in Season 3.  We should be long past that storyline by now, but I digress.

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According to the SUPER nice security guard I spoke with, producers had the McGraw Rotunda intricately decorated with thousands upon thousands of flowers and other adornments for the wedding scene, yet none of it was visible in the movie.  The only time any of the wedding decorations can be spotted is in the above-pictured blink-and-you’ll miss it scene in which Anthony Marentino (aka Mario Cantone) tells an assistant to keep all of the wedding guests off of the main stairwell.

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The scene in which Mr. Big tells Carrie via telephone that he “couldn’t get out of the car” and that he will not be going through with the wedding was filmed in the library’s Astor Hall area, just off of the main lobby.

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Miranda (aka Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (aka Kristin Davis) immediately grab Carrie and rush her out of the library’s northernmost front door.

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And, while I was stalking the library, I, of course, just had to reenact the scene in which a devastated Carrie drops her cell phone after finding out that Big has stood her up.

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Sex and the City: The Movie was hardly the first production to film at the library, though.  The building was also the site of the benefit gala in the Season 3 episode of Gossip Girl titled “Ex-Husbands and Wives”

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In the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Paul Varjak (aka George Peppard) and Holly Golightly (aka Audrey Hepburn) stop into the library during their “things we’ve never done before” day.  And while the real life exterior of the library appeared in that scene, I cannot say for certain that the actual interior was also used.  The interior scenes quite possibly may have been filmed on a studio soundstage.  The library also appeared in a later scene in the movie as the spot where Paul first tells Holly that he loves her.  And I just have to say here that I find it absolutely amazing that Audrey Hepburn’s costumes are still stylish today, almost five decades after Breakfast at Tiffany’s was filmed!  I mean, how adorable is the orange jacket pictured above?  But, again, I digress.

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In the original Spider-Man movie, Uncle Ben (aka Cliff Robertson) drops off Peter Parker (aka Tobey Maguire) at the library, where he is supposedly going to do some studying.  Peter instead goes to a wrestling match dressed as Spider-Man.  When Ben later comes to pick Peter up, he gets killed outside of the library’s main entrance.

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Jenna Rink (aka Jennifer Garner) and Matt Flamhaff (aka Mark Ruffalo) stage part of their “Class of 2004” photo shoot in front of the New York Public Library in fave movie 13 Going On 30.

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In 1997’s Picture Perfect, the library was the site of the Gulden’s Mustard party where Kate Mosley (aka my girl Jennifer Aniston) first becomes disillusioned with the advertising world.

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And while a large portion of the movie The Day After Tomorrow was set in the New York Public Library, no filming actually took place there.  Instead producers built a replica of the library’s interior on a studio soundstage that they later destroyed during the massive flood scenes.  According to the security guard that I spoke with, set designers spent weeks taking measurements of the interior of the library so that it could be exactly replicated for the filming.

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In The Thomas Crown Affair, the inside of the library stood in for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as the Met refused to let any interior scenes be shot on the premises.

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The first Ghostbusters movie actually opens with a shot of the New York Public Library and its famous stone lions, who are named Patience and Fortitude.  The library has also appeared in the movies On The Town, Pickup on South Street, A Thousand Clowns, The Clock, King Kong, and You’re a Big Boy Now, and in the television series Kings.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  :)

Stalk It: The New York Public library is located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 42nd Street in New York City.  It is open to the public daily.

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10 comments

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  1. John (Bay Area) says:

    Great post… We were at the New York Public Library 6 weeks ago on our Spring Break trip to NYC so those images are still fresh in my mind. That library was one of the highlights of our trip… it is such an amazing building… so big and grand. The funny part was that we must have walked around for over 20 minutes trying to find the BOOKS! We finally discovered the reading room upstairs with the amazing murals on the ceiling but the books in that area seemed to be all reference material. I’m still not sure if there was an area where the “regular” books are. This library is a must see for anyone visiting New York.

  2. Erin says:

    I was only thinking of this location this morning!

  3. Becky says:

    This was great! I went to NYC for the first time ever during Labor Day weekend of 2008, the summer after the movie came out. Of course, I just had to force my friend (who isn’t a fan of the show) to go on the SATC tour with me. While the tour was disappointing, they give you a great book after that tells you the locations of all the places you drove by throughout the day! Score! So we went back to the Library, and I got a great pic of the rotunda. Seriously the most beautiful library ever. We also went back and visited Carrie’s brownstone (which has a big tacky sign on it), the Brooklyn Bridge (where Miranda & Steve reunited in the movie), had lunch at Tao (which is awesome), ate a Magnolia cupcake, and went back for drink at “Scout.” It was awesome. This post makes me want to visit the Big Apple another time just to see more!

  4. Virginie says:

    love this post too! I just watched the movie Sex and the City for the first time last night and I absolutely loved it. I’m definitely going to the cinema to see the sequel.
    Never saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Such a shame! But I love Audrey Hepburn, she’s so classy. Did you know she was born in Belgium? She somewhat reminds me of Olivia Palermo (or the otherway around), don’t you think?

  5. Davidete says:

    Great great post, very complete ;)

    I was there two years ago, and (as I told you when we met) that’s the very same spot where our friends improvised a picture of the wedding (that never happened in the movie) with Marta and me going up those stairs with “something like” a veil and a bridal bouquet… I’m sending you that pic in next mail!!

    Thanks for the post.

  6. Stephanie says:

    So cool, love that post. Just watched the first movie recently and can’t wait to see the second one! Love and miss you! Steffi

  7. Lavonna says:

    Great Post! I’ve been to NY numerous times but never went to this location..on my list for next visit. I must admit I’ve never watched an episode of Sex and the City but Target had the seasons on sale for $13.99 each so we ended up buying them. Not sure when I’ll get around to watching them, Melissa is finishing up Buffy the Vampire series then I think Sex and the City will be next! But I LOVE Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 13 Going on 30 and Picture Perfect.


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