“New York, You’ve Changed” is a Scouting NY feature in which the New York depicted in classic movies is compared with the city of today, a full shot-by-shot dissection to see what once was and what has changed. This is Part 2 of our look at Annie Hall – Click here for Part 1!
Continuing where we left off, Alvy goes to watch Annie sing (badly) in an unidentified Village night club. Reader Eatquestnyc speculates it might have been Reno Sweeney’s at 126 West 13th Street, where Diane Keaton used to sing on amateur nights…but it remains a mystery.
Afterward, Alvy consoles Annie as they walk down a Village street. I have to give full credit to reader Richard B. for picking this one out, as I would have NEVER gotten it: Greenwich Avenue, south side, between Sixth Ave and 10th Street. Fantastic work, Richard!
The couple start off walking past a corner bar and fine art store, which today have become Gran Trattoria and a dry cleaners…
They then pass a clothing store called Tiberius Fashions (the Eureka clue for Richard who recalled walking past it in the 1970s). Today, it’s a restaurant:
They pass another art store, which is now a shop selling fire/police souvenirs:
Next up is an interestingly lit restaurant, now Niu, a noodle place:
Another couple of stores, today Mr. Joseph’s Hairstylists and a shoe repair shop:
Finally, the big first kiss between Alvy and Annie Hall happens in front of this clothing store…which is actually still a clothing store! Zachary’s Smile at 9 Greenwich Ave:
Alvy then takes Annie to a deli, where she famously orders “pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise.” It blows my mind that there isn’t some once-amazing-turned-touristy deli somewhere hawking itself as this Annie Hall location, which suggests it’s probably out of business. But who knows? Scouting NY readers have suggested everything from the Waverly Place Diner to Carnegie Deli, but nothing seems to fit:
We later find Alvy buying Annie some books on death. Where’s the bookstore? Thanks to Scouting NY readers – especially Jack W., who has a near-encyclopedic knowledge of defunct bookstores – it appears they’re at the long gone Doubleday store at 724 Fifth Avenue between 56th & 57th Streets.
Confirmation actually comes from another movie: The Boys in the Band, where Doubleday makes a cameo within the first five minutes (thanks for the tip, Martin!). Definitely seems to have the same design, from the lighting to the bookcases:
Go there for a book today, and you’ll be out of luck – it’s a Prada:
Later, Annie and Alvy sit on a bench making fun of New Yorkers in Central Park. Recognize this one? It’s the Central Park Zoo!
The sea lions definitely have better digs today…
…versus this old cement structure. Also, too bad we no longer have those two really neat cages, which I imagine held birds. But one element that remains?
This pair of eagle statues (there are eight in total), which came from a 1912 bridge that went over Shore Road from First Avenue in Brooklyn. The eagles found their way to Central Park in 1941 after the bridge was demolished:
Want to make fun of New Yorkers on the same bench as Alvy and Annie? It’s the one to the right of the arched window:
Later, Alvy and Annie walk down to the South Street Seaport and kiss with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background:
Not too hard to find this one – just go to the northern most edge of Pier 17:
Interestingly enough, while the northern views are still mostly the same…
The seaport has changed quite a lot. You can see a pair of ships behind Alvy and Annie:
Today? Pier 17, with an outdoor craft beer lounge complete with sand:
A little later on, Alvy recalls having an interview to write comedy for a TV show host. Dead giveaway to this office? The Canadian Club dry sign out his window…
…which was a Times Square fixture for years:
Alvy goes to visit Annie’s parents in a house that could be absolutely anywhere (I’m guessing this was shot somewhere in Westchester). Let me know if it rings a bell!
A harrowing ride home with an incredibly young Christopher Walken takes them down this non-descript street:
And then, the fighting begins – right on Washington Square North:
Built in the 1830-40s, this row of Greek Revival townhouses was built for New York’s elite. The big clue as to exactly which buildings they’re walking past?
This pair of lions…
…which are is still in place over 30 years later!
After a mini-break-up, Annie takes off in a cab, leaving Alvy to query everyone on the street for advice. This was shot on West 4th Street between MacDougal & Sixth Avenue:
“Large vibrating egg”:
“I’m very shallow and empty, and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.” “And I’m exactly the same way.” Great to see how the trees have grown:
The scene culminates with Alvy talking to a horse about falling for the Wicked Queen in Snow White:
Alvy, Annie and Rob make an excursion to Alvy’s childhood home at Coney Island, driving out via the Belt Parkway (the umpteenth example of the movie going out of its way to have proper geography):
We then get the briefest of brief shots of Alvy and Annie going in what I think is supposed to be the apartment they now share. Someone out there has to recognize this:
After a trip to California (to be someday covered by sister site Scouting LA), Alvy and Annie officially break up – and Alvy quickly finds himself regretting the decision as he comes out of a movie theater, identified by alert Scouting NY reader Ruben I. as The Paris right next to the Plaza Hotel:
After a failed attempt at a new relationship, Alvy takes a forlorn walk down by the South Street Seaport on what I believe was Pier 15. Amazing how the Brooklyn Heights skyline has barely changed:
Alvy’s final attempt to save his relationship with Annie ends in disaster, and it looks like they’re done for good. In the final narration, Alvy reveals he ran into Annie one more time – dragging her new boyfriend to see The Sorrow and the Pity (“which I counted as a personal triumph”). The scene was staged at the Thalia Theater…
…which is still the Thalia today…sort of. The original theater, an art deco cinema dating to 1931, was torn down in 1987 and replaced with the current apartment building/Symphony Space complex, despite promises to preserve it.
Alvy and Annie meet for lunch some time later and reminisce about old times.
Today, the space is is an extension of PJ Clarke’s – not sure what it was back in 1976:
The final shot of the film shows Annie and Alvy parting ways at the corner of 63rd Street & Columbus:
Alvy watches her go…and Annie never looks back:
I mentioned at the beginning of the piece that Annie Hall is the movie that almost wasn’t. Originally called Anhedonia, it was a completely different film, focusing entirely on Alvy, with the Annie Hall portion only making up about a 1/3rd of it. It was only in the editing stage that it was decided the Annie relationship should be the crux of the film, and it was completely reworked.
I’ve always wondered if Allen is uncomfortable with the fact that Annie Hall is widely considered his masterpiece, since the film could almost be looked at as an accident, certainly achieving nothing of his original intentions.
I really, really hope this isn’t the case – I think a major reason Annie Hall is so successful is because of how utterly free it feels. All the rigidity and formulaic nature of three act structures and character arcs and so on is basically out the window because it was never there to begin with, and the film feels completely organic as it delves into one of the most beautiful romances ever committed to celluloid.
Part of this sense of reality comes from Allen’s treatment of New York City as a living, breathing character. The geography is respected, the locations are authentic, and its inhabitants are not just extras but actual residents, to be approached and and queried as Alvy sees fit.
It’s as real a city as Alvy and Annie’s relationship.
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