As movie-goers, we had planned our recent trip to the United States thinking about a visit to perhaps the most photogenic city in the world. New York, and especially Manhattan, was the location where many countless movies, bigger or smaller hits, were shot. Probably all of you have seen such films as “Taxi Driver” starring Robert De Niro (an important one for me, because of the date of its release), “The Godfather”, “Home Alone”, “Goodfellas”, “The Interpreter”, the whole series of “The Sopranos”, movies directed by Woody Allen or “Wall Street”. I could go on and on like that, but there are plenty of examples and not enough space in one blog post to mention them all.
In New York, we stayed at the Upper West Side, near 81 West Street, close to the Natural History Museum (to pamper Jan, because of the exhibits, but also due to “The Night In The Museum”) and Central Park (this is because our passion for jogging – we couldn’t deny ourselves jogging in such a place, a true icon).
The areas around the Central Park, especially on its eastern side, look as if you were in a Woody Allen’s movie – the place of residence of New York high society. Quite nearby there is Queensboro Bridge and the Tram to the Roosevelt Island, a place where several scenes of “The Interpreter”, featuring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, were shot.
It is also really close to the Madison Avenue, a magical place, due to the next big smash hit – the “Mad Men” series, which is set on Manhattan.
Mad Men & Madison Avenue
This movie, even though most of its scenes were shot in a film studio, was perhaps the one that let us really feel the atmosphere of Manhattan – this time, from 1950s and 1960s. At that time in the US, TV was becoming the equivalent of today’s Internet and the guys from advertising agencies on Madison Avenue were the kings of life, just like Wall Street Yuppies three decades later.
New York is somehow magical – when combined with how we imagined this city, based on the movies we watched and the books we red, this magic creates a special mix, which we haven’t found anywhere else so far. The city was truly exciting for us, whether when looking at it from a bird’s-eye view, from the Uber’s window as we drove through the JFK Bridge or when we wandered all over it on foot.
And now – something more down to earth, unrelated to the movies. On the plane, on our way back to London, I read a paper bought at the airport in the U.S. (yes, it was New York Times!). A very interesting article about real estate in Manhattan and its relative value over the years, from the very first owners of tenement houses, the shoeshine boys who newly arrived there and within a decade became millionaires, to modern real estate magnates.
Did you know that an average creative director at an advertising agency in the 1950s (yes, it’s MadMen again), earning about $50k a year, could afford an apartment at the 4th or 5th Avenue, near the Central Park, worth about $150-$200k?
And did you know that a person employed in the same position today unfortunately doesn’t have the slightest chance to afford that? With salaries of about $150k per year, a flat worth some $10-15 million is just beyond their reach.