“New York, You’ve Changed” is a new Scouting NY feature in which the New York depicted in movies is compared with the city of today. Not just the usual list of shooting locations, this is a full shot-by-shot dissection to see what New York once was and what it has become, for better or worse.
We’ll be running Halloween-themed posts this week in honor of the holiday, and there seemed no better way to start than to take a New York, You’ve Changed look at one of the best New York City horror films ever made, Rosemary’s Baby.
As the credits roll, the film begins with a panoramic aerial view of north-east New York, taken from the roof of The Majestic apartment building across the street from the Dakota (if anyone has a contact at The Majestic, I’d love to go up and shoot how the cityscape has changed). We finally come to settle on a very low angle view of the beautiful Dakota at 72nd St & Central Park West (called The Bramford in the film):
The Dakota was constructed between 1880 and 1884 and originally had 65 apartments consisting of 4 to 20 rooms, with no two alike.
A picture of the Dakota circa 1890, when the Upper West Side was a bit less crowded:
One of my favorite building ornamentations in New York can be found lining the iron fence surrounding the Dakota:
It’s even on the entrance to the 72nd Street subway station:
In addition, the subway has a great antique sign above the stairwell entrance:
As the movie opens, we meet Rosemary and her husband Guy as they visit the Dakota to see a vacant apartment (how they can afford anything in the Dakota, with Guy depicted as a struggling actor, is a bit of witchcraft in itself).
As they’re touring their new apartment, they notice a bureau curiously pushed up against a closet door.
They move it aside and indeed find a closet.
We later find out that this hallway originally connected to the neighboring apartment (owned by the devil-worshiping Castevets). Breaking up apartments into smaller units by dividing the hallways is not uncommon. In the Apthorp, a building similar in idea to the Dakota, for example…
…apartments that used to span an entire floor have been broken up into smaller units by dividing the hallways with closets. If you were to punch through the back of this closet, you’d find yourself in the neighboring apartment (when I was scouting this, all I could think about was Rosemary’s Baby):
This closet, also in the Apthorp, still has a door to the kitchen as its back wall: