The Filming Locations of The Naked City – Part 3: The Upper West Side and Upper East Side

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 and Part 2!

We conclude our Naked City tour of 1940s New York by heading uptown…

Upper West Side

Location: 71st Street & Broadway

Our first stop on the Upper West Side begins with this great shot of the intersection at 72nd Street and Broadway. For once, everything in the frame seems to still exist!

001 - UWS - 074 - 72nd area

002 - UWS - 074a - 72nd area

Swinging around to the south, we get a fantastic look at the buildings that used to line Amsterdam south of 70th Street. All are gone save the one on the far right:

003 - UWS - 70th Bway - 072 - 72nd area

004 - UWS - 70th Bway - 072a - 72nd area

Finally, a tight shot of the building at 70th Street and Broadway, today razed and replaced by a modern apartment building:

005 - UWS - 073 - 70th and bway a

006 - UWS - 073a - 70th and bway a

Location: 52 W 83rd Street btw. Central Park West & Columbus

Heading further north, we come to the scene of the crime at 52 West 83rd Street (the address has since been renumbered).

007 - UWS - 060 - 52 West 83rd

008 - UWS - 060a - 52 West 83rd

A side view gives us a peek at Central Park in the distance:

009 - UWS - 025 - 52 West 83rd

010 UWS - 025a - 52 West 83rd

Location: Columbus Circle

We come now to Columbus Circle, which amazingly used to afford a view of the Empire State Building. Also, I had absolutely no idea the highrise residential building on the left was so old:

010a- Midtown - Columbus Circle - 000e

010b - Midtown - Columbus Circle - 000ae

Location: 58th Street @ Ninth Avenue

Just around the corner, we watch as an ambulance leaves from Roosevelt Hospital’s “Accident Ward” on 58th Street. The original Roosevelt Hospital building was later torn down to make way for the highrise apartment that now occupies the property:

011 - Midtown - 58 & 9th - 029 - Roosevelt Hostpial

012 - Midtown - 58a & 9th - 029 - Roosevelt Hostpial

As the ambulance speeds off, we catch a glimpse of 58th Street and Ninth Ave, the south side of which is more or less intact:

013 - Midtown - 58 & 9th - 030 - Roosevelt Hospital

014 - Midtown - 58 & 9th - 030a - Roosevelt Hospital

Upper East Side

Location: 732 Fifth Avenue @ 57th Street

Heading over to the east side, we find a detective questioning a jeweler. This was shot on location at what was then Temple’s Jewels. Today, it’s Bvlgari (no pictures allowed):

015 - Midtown - 732 Fifth Ave - 065 - jewerly 1 = fifth ave

016 - Midtown - 732 Fifth Ave - 065a - jewerly 1 = fifth ave

The detective exits the jewelry store…

017 - Midtown - 070 - temple's jewels 732 Fifth

018 - Midtown - 070a - temple's jewels 732 Fifth

And proceeds down Fifth Avenue.

019 - Midtown - After Temple Walk south - 071 - temples after

020 - Midtown - After Temple Walk south - 071 - temples aafter

Location: 745 Fifth Avenue @ 58th Street.

A block north, we get a shot of a detective exiting the bus at 745 Fifth Avenue. Note that the bus is heading north – at this time, Fifth Avenue was a two-way street. A lot of new glass on that corner building…

021 - Midtown - 040 - 745 fifth

022 - Midtown - 040 - 745 fiftha

Location: 478 Park Ave @ 58th Street

As a character pulls up to an apartment building, I love the view we get of a much shorter Park Avenue, a pretty startling contrast to how it looks today. If you look closely, you’ll see that one or two buildings are still the same. Note the Waldorf in the distance.

024 - UES - 075 - 478 Park @ 58th

023 - UES - 075 - 478 Park @ 58tha

Location: 773 Madison Ave @ 66th Street

As the detectives continue their investigation, we follow one as he crosses 66th Street on Madison…

025 - UES - 773 madison & 66th - 034 - Larimore

026 - UES - 773 madison & 66th - 034a - Larimore

…and enters Larimore Chemists, a corner drug store established in 1889. Hey, there’s a city trash barrel in the exact same place after all these years later!

027 - UES - 773 madison & 66th - 035 - larimore

028 - UES - 773 madison & 66th - 035a - larimore

Alas, the drug store is long gone, since replaced by a jewelry store:

029 - UES - 773 madison & 66th - 037 - larimore

030 - UES - 773 madison & 66tha - 037 - larimore

Location: 807 Lexington Ave btw. 62nd/63rd Sts.

Another detective checks out Albert’s Beauty Salon at 807 Lexington. That curling device on the left is terrifying. Today, this is Korean Express.

031 - alberts 807 something

032 - 067a

Location: Third Avenue and 59th Street

A chase scene breaks out in front of the now defunct Coronet 1 & 2 movie theater, which was originally located where Urban Outfitters is today. Love the store at 999 Third Avenue with the neon sign for trusses and belts. Finally, note the steel beams along the sidewalk – they’re supporting the Third Avenue elevated train tracks running directly overhead:

033 - 081 -escape 2

034 -

The characters run past the theater and swing around onto 59th Street, then takes the stairs up to the el station above:

035 - 082a

036 - 082aa

Yes, this was a time when train stations were heated by cast-iron stoves:

037 - 082b

As the character watches the train head north, we get a view of Third Avenue looking south, with the Chrysler Building towering above the skyline. Today, you can’t even see it:

038 - 082c

039  -082cc

Our view swings around to the north, and the changes are even more incredible. Note the handful of walk-ups on the left still clinging to life:

040 - 082d

041 - 082dd

Location: 103rd Street @ Lexington Ave

Our final street shot takes us up north to 103rd Street, where we see morning commuters scrambling for the train entrance. Note that Lexington was originally cobblestone:

043 - Spanish Harlem - 022 - 103 & Lex

042 - Spanish Harlem - 022a - 103 & Lex

Though I’ve attempted to cover all of the identifiable locations in The Naked City, there are still countless more that either have no identifying features, or simply no longer exist. This includes shots of the old Roxy theater lobby…

01

A bank in the early morning hours…

02

A sewing factory after closing:

03

As NY Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote in his review of the film, “The late Mark Hellinger’s personal romance with the City of New York was one of the most ecstatic love affairs of the modern day.” If you’ve never seen The Naked City, I highly urge you to revisit it for a glorious tour of a Manhattan that no longer exists.

Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2!

-SCOUT

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14 comments

  1. I was surprised to learn the modern building at Columbus Circle is landmarked and was built in 1939/40. I always wrote it off as a 1970s eyesore. Now I write it off as a 1940s eyesore.

    • michael mainzer

      Tyler,
      You are mostly correct. The building was erected in 1964 by Huntington Hartford, an heir to the A & P chain, as a gallery and art museum. t has changed hands several times over the years and is currently owned by the Museum of Arts and Designs

      • Mr. Mainzer,

        You, as well, are “mostly correct.” The 1964 Huntington Hartford building was an eyesore until recent times when its facade was transformed into a much nicer one. And now it houses the Museum of Arts and Design.

        But, the building referred to by Tyler is the apartment building on the left of the photo in question. Basically, the southwest corner of CPS and Broadway.

        • Oops. Now, I am the one who is “mostly correct.” That apartment building, of course, sits on the southeast corner, NOT the southwest corner.

        • Sorry, I’m going to respectfully disagree on this one. The old “Lollipop” building was, in my opinion, a quirky yet quintessential NYC landmark and what they’ve done with it is HORRIBLE. A disgrace!

          • Thanks for your comment.

            Truth be told, I thought the original take-off on Venice’s Doges Palace was interesting and not all that bad…until, well, I no longer did. Conversely, my first reaction to the new iteration of 2 Columbus Circle was much like yours. But, the building started to grow on me and now I (kinda) love it.

            So, the takeaway is that the architectural qualities of any building may change (or not), while one’s appreciation of same may change (or not).

            And NYC is quite the place for such dealings!

          • I agree about the “lollipop” building, which was unique and deserving of landmarking imo. What was done to the former General Motors (now CNN) building at 1775 Broadway is also a disgraceful act of vandalism. I believe this shameless exercise in greed backfired on Moinian.

            240 Central Park West across Broadway on the corner, completed in 1941, is an Art Deco gem and quite rightly landmarked.

  2. Can’t believe they tore down the Roxy. That 52 W 83 ST sign looks fake, like they stuck it up there for the day. Wasn’t it still 46 in 1947? Looks like Dassin giving directions to the doorman in that photo. I vaguely remember this New York as a kid and mourn it’s passing and have no regrets that I left New York. So many of the people in the street shots look like my aunts and uncles. I was raised middle class in NYC and have no idea how the middle class can afford to live there any longer. It will soon be a tale of two cities.

  3. The Naked City television series doesn’t have all that much to do with the movie, but it too has some great footage of the city. A great deal of it was shot on location, and some of the locations even seem vaguely familiar from my childhood.

  4. Lexington Avenue was paved with Belgian block, not cobblestone. Common error.

  5. Thanks for taking the time to write this 3 part series, it was obviously a lot of work, but it was worth it, and much appreciated, Scout.

  6. Terrific effort by the author, who clearly put a lot into this! Thanks

  7. I also have enjoyed the author’s effort.
    Just saw The Naked City (Criterion Collection) tonight and was mesmerize by the locations.

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