The Filming Locations of The Naked City – Part 2: Times Square, Chelsea, Soho and Wall Street

This week, Scouting NY is taking a frame-by-frame, then-and-now look at The Naked City. Shot on location in 1948, The Naked City provides an incredible, documentary-style look at the streets of New York. Let’s see how the city has changed over 65 years later. Be sure to check out Part 1 here!

Continuing from yesterday’s article covering the Lower East Side and the Williamsburg Bridge, we resume our Naked City tour through 1940s New York City in…

Soho

Location: 240 Centre Street btw. Broome & Grand

Largely a police procedural, The Naked City takes place at several actual police buildings around Manhattan. The first: the original New York City Police Headquarters on Centre Street…

00a Soho - Centre & Broome - 027 - Police Building

00b Soho - Centre & Broome - 027a - Police Building

In use by the police from 1903 – 1973, 240 Centre was converted into luxury condos in 1988. The penthouse was last listed at around $31 million.

00c Soho - Centre & Broome - 026 - Police Building

00d Soho - Centre & Broome - 026a - Police Building

Chelsea

Location: West 20th Street btw. 7th / 8th Aves.

In the film, the detectives work out of the 10th Precinct, shot on location at 230 West 20th Street:

001 - Chelsea - 230 W 20th & 8th Ave - 048 - precinct

002 - Chelsea - 230 W 20th & 8th Ave - 048a - precinct

Filming an exterior at an actual precinct is pretty unthinkable these days…

003 Chelsea - 230 W 20th & 8th Ave - 031 - Precinct

004 Chelsea - 230 W 20th & 8th Ave - 031a - Precinct

…but The Naked City went the distance and actually shot inside the precinct, which is absolutely insane by modern standards. The interior has changed somewhat, but the desk and guardrail are still there!

007 Chelsea - 230 W 20th & 8th - 032 - Precinct

008 Chelsea - 230 W 20th & 8th - 032a - Precinct

Finally, a reverse up West 20th reveals the north side of the street looking toward 7th Ave:

005 -  Chelsea - 230 W 20th & 8th Ave - 047 - precinct

006 Chelsea - 230 W 20th & 8th Ave - 047a - precinct

Location: West 15th Street at Ninth Avenue

That is indeed the Chelsea Market building on the right, with the former Nabisco skybridge in the distance:

009 Chelsea - 15 & 9th  - 049 -

012 - 010 Chelsea - 15 & 9th  - 049a -

Location: West 18th Street and Park Avenue

Moving east, we find a news vendor selling papers at the entrance to the now defunct 18th Street subway stop. Though the entrance is gone, the station itself still exists underground in a state of abandonment.

012a

012b

Midtown

Location: Sixth Avenue and 34th Street

I love this shot of an old lunch counter, with the Bennett monument visible in the background.

013 - Midtown - 6th Ave & 34th Street - 019 - lunch counter 34th street

014 - Midtown - 6th Ave & 34th Street - 019a - lunch counter 34th street

Today, that lunch counter is a Sunglass Hut:

015 - Midtown - 6th Ave & 34th Street - 019a - lunch counter 34th streetb

Location: Seventh Avenue and West 40th Street

While I like the shot of commuters entering this Times Square subway entrance, I love the deli sign on the left, with pastrami and frankfurters for just a dime or two.

015b - 051 - subway entrance

015c - 051a

Location: West 33rd Street btw. 8th/9th Aves

Below, a mail truck zoom out of the Farley Post office toward Ninth Ave:

016 - Midtown West - 33rd & 9th - 014 - post officea (2)

017 - Midtown West - 33rd & 9th - 014 - post officea (1)

Location: East 29th Street and First Avenue

Heading far over to the east side, we find the original City Mortuary at Bellevue…

018 - Midtown East - Bellevue - 055 mortuary

019 Midtown East - Bellevue - a055 mortuary

Times Square

Location: Times Square looking north

So many great landmarks of yore visible in the below shot, including the Hotel Astor on the left, and part of the Bond store on the right. Note Pepsi hogging Coke’s now ubiquitous advertising space. The statue of playwright George M. Cohan can just be seen in silhouette:

020 Times Sq - 148

021 Times Sq - 148a

Location: Times Square looking south

Looking the opposite direction, note the Loew’s State Theatre marquee in the center of the frame:

022 - Times Sq - 1540 Bway 147

023 - Times Sq - 1540 Bway 147a

Demolished in the 1990s, the Loew’s entrance was located about where the Disney store is:

024 Times Sq - 1540 Bway 100

025 Times Sq - 1540 Bway 100a

A great shot of a Loew’s clerk looking a bit sheepish at appearing in a movie:

026 Times Sq - 1540 Bway 098

Location: Times Square looking north

One final shot of Times Square looking north at what is now Aeropostale.

027 Midtown - Times Square - statue - 089

028 Midtown - Times Square - statue - 089a

The East River

Location: East River somewhere in the 40s

The East River is featured prominently in The Naked City from three different angles. First, this amazing shot of kids jumping off the piers…

029 - DUMBO - 061 - jumping off

030

Location: The East River somewhere near Houston

Next, a view of the Williamsburg Bridge from somewhere near Houston. The Domino Sugar Refinery complex is visible on the left:

031 East Village - East Houston Street 058 - dock

032 East Village - East Houston Street 058a - dock

Location: The East River somewhere in DUMBO

Finally, a shot of the Manhattan Bridge taken near John Street in DUMBO:

032a DUMBO - 059 - dock

033 DUMBO - 059a - dock

Wall Street

Heading south, the movie features a fantastic shot of Wall Street in the early morning. Very little has changed here…

Location: Wall Street and Broadway

034 Downtown - Wall Street - 000f

035a Downtown - Wall Street - 000g

Location: Coenties Slip at Water Street

There’s also a great pair of shots of the old Third Avenue elevated train, taken at the Coenties Slip S-curve off of Water Street:

036 Downtown - Coenties Slip - 018 - elevated train

036b Downtown - Coenties Slip - 018a - elevated train

The Third Avenue El was phased out in the 1950s, and was the last elevated line to run in Manhattan.

037 Downtown - Coenties Slip - 016 - elevated

038 Downtown - Coenties Slip - 016a - elevated

Location: Battery Maritime Building

Last, we get this shot of commuters heading to the Staten Island ferry, which originally left from what was called the Municipal Ferry Pier. Renamed the Battery Maritime Building, it now offers ferry service to Governors Island.

039 Downtown - Staten Island - 050 - ferry

040 Downtown - Staten Island - 050a - ferry

Click here for Part 3! And be sure to check out Part 1 here.

-SCOUT

If you enjoyed reading this post, would you consider making a donation to help me make my first movie? The goal is $50,000, and to date, 1,701 Scouting NY readers have donated $35,874! Just $5 or $10 can make a difference - AND you get this snazzy Scouting NY sticker/magnet as a Thank-You gift! Click here to donate today!

try4

And hey, if you've made it this far, why not follow us via RSS, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr?

16 comments

  1. Jancie D Stearns

    In the third to last picture – Third Avenue El and Coenties Slip, there is a sandstone skyscraper on the far right of the picture. Is it still there and just obscured by the ugly apartment building? I love that building and have been trying to find out about it for years. Thanks!

  2. Allegedly, that’s Weegee (Arthur Fellig) as the sanitation man pushing the broom down Broadway in the final shot of the film. Weegee sold the rights to his photo book Naked City to Hellinger. Hellinger and Dassin then used it as inspiration to create the style of the film. Stanley Kubrick was a staff photographer for Look magazine at the time and shot many on set photos during production. They’re on the internet.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=stanley+kubrick+naked+city&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=937&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=N0b1VLSdIs7gsASiwIGwAg&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ&dpr=1

  3. kubrick hired weegee as set photographer on 2001 a space oddissy

  4. Wow, I usually love all of your posts, but these two posts have been especially fantastic! I now want to watch this film!

  5. I love this film. The locations. The faces! (the best “real people” faces in this film). One of those movies I just blindly started watching on TCM, and was so happy to have found it.

  6. Great post! But the Staten Island Ferry has always left from its own building and was a somewhat smaller replica of the Battery Maritime. It was drastically remodeled in the early 1950s after the last El trains were demolished (every north/south elevated line terminated at South Ferry and ran directly into the upper level of the building for easy access onto the boats…)

  7. I believe the Loew’s clerk was Millie Crosby, a neighbor in Brooklyn.

    “A great shot of a Loew’s clerk looking a bit sheepish at appearing in a movie:”
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/scoutingny/16696319745

  8. Meredith Marciano

    Silhouette of the beautiful Singer Building on the left under the Manhattan Bridge from Dumbo shot. Another architectural gem tragically demolished.

  9. This is totally amazing, thanks for the window to the past with a comparison to today. Really appreciate all your effort.

  10. For anyone with Hulu Plus, this film is part of the Criterion Collection currently offered there.

  11. Quoth Nick: “The Third Avenue El was phased out in the 1950s, and was the last elevated line to run in Manhattan.”

    Not quite true, as the 1 train runs elevated from Dyckman Street to 225th Street in Inwood and Marble Hill.

    These posts are fantastic, BTW. I love then-and-now comparisons like this……

  12. I would love to see you do a post about all the now closed observatories. For instance 70 Pine St used to have an observatory on it’s 66th floor that is now closed to the public. It would be so awesome if you could gain access to some of these closed observatories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*