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A TV Show Tour of NYC: 8 Must-Visit Locations for the TV Fan

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


From classic sitcom sets to historic studios

New York City is one of the most frequently used locations for filming television series, as well as one of the international centers for taping television shows. This makes the Big Apple a television fan’s dream come true for sightseeing, and there are, in fact, several tours devoted entirely to TV and movie locations. Sure, you can throw a stick in NYC and hit a filming location for Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU, but there are plenty of other fun spots to visit that will feed your television habit. Here are 8 that we recommend.

NBC Studios is an NYC must-see for an TV lover (Photo: iStock)

NBC Studios is an NYC must-see for an TV lover (Photo: iStock)

666 Park Avenue and its Nonfiction Counterpart
Though 666 Park Avenue was a short-lived television supernatural drama, the building used for the exterior of the fictional apartment building known as “The Drake” is a majestic structure worth visiting. The Beaux-Arts style “Ansonia” has been the home to many real-life celebrities, including Babe Ruth, Macaulay Culkin, Eric McCormack, Natalie Portman, Florenz Ziegfeld, Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Located at 2109 Broadway, The Ansonia was commissioned in 1897 and opened in 1899. The building will also be familiar to movie fans, as it has been utilized as a location for such films as The Sunshine Boys, Single White Female and Perfect Stranger. This is a private residence, so visits should be limited to the exterior only.

The Rhoda-Inspired Central Park Bike Tour
In the 1970s, Rhoda (a spin-off of the popular The Mary Tyler Moore Show starring Valerie Harper) was a hit TV sitcom set in New York City. During one of the show’s opening sequences, the title character was featured spending her day at various NYC locales, particularly Central Park, where she is seen bike-riding over the ornate bridges and through the foliage, as well as posing amidst the famous Alice in Wonderland sculpture that resides there. The piece, created in 1959 by José de Creeft, features Alice, The Mad Hatter and The White Rabbit commemorated in glorious bronze. Standing eleven feet tall at its highest, the installation can be found at 74th Street, north of the Conservatory Water. With all the fun things to do in the park, take a tip from Rhoda and stop to see Alice and her friends. Check out a Central Park TV & Movie sites tour to see even more filming locations.

The Today Show at Rockefeller Center
Who hasn’t turned on the television in the morning and witnessed a crowd of tourists packed into Rockefeller Center, trying to get the attention of The Today Show’s Al Roker? Rockefeller Center is one of the city’s most visited destinations, particularly during the holidays. However, with a skating rink, Radio City Music Hall, The Top of the Rock Observation Deck, as well as shopping and eateries galore, Rockefeller Center is an exciting, bustling place to be. And, if you are willing to get up early, you can always make your way there to be a part of the Today crowd.

The NBC Studio Tour
One way to get a good feeling for New York City-based television is to take the NBC Studio Tour.  Located at the famous 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the tour will take you through the building where such shows as The Today Show and Saturday Night Live are filmed. The tour promises a chance to view the fully restored Art Deco Rotunda, a visit to at least two NBC studios, and there is always the possibility you might pass some celebrities in the hallways.

The Nanny Exterior
The comedy The Nanny, about a cosmetics saleswoman who takes a job as a domestic in the household of a Broadway theater producer, was never filmed in New York City. That didn’t stop series creators from gathering exterior shots from Big Apple locales. The chief exterior shot was of the Sheffield townhouse, the home where nanny Fran Fine tended to three children. That exterior was featured is almost every episode of The Nanny, and can be seen at 7 East 75th Street on New York’s Upper East Side. 

The Ed Sullivan Theatre
The current resident of The Ed Sullivan Theatre (1697-1699 Broadway) is The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, but the venue has a long and rich history in the world of television. It is, of course, where the iconic Toast Of The Town/The Ed Sullivan Show was recorded for much of its run. Other television shows that were taped within the building include The Merv Griffin Show, Kate & Allie and The Late Show with David Letterman. Prior to its use as a television studio, the site was used as a theater venue, operating as the Hammerstein’s Theatre, The Manhattan Theatre and The Billy Rose Music Hall. The Ed Sullivan Theatre is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the interior has been designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The Honeymooners Statue
Nothing says classic television sitcom quite like The Honeymooners, which starred comedian Jackie Gleason as the temperamental and bumbling NYC bus driver Ralph Kramden. A statue of ol’ Ralphie stands just outside Port Authority Bus Terminal, on the west side of Eighth Avenue, midway between 40th and 41st Streets. The statue, which is by the late sculptor Larry Nowlan, was funded by the cable network TV Land in cooperation with Gleason's estate and the Port Authority. It features the iconic character in his bus driver’s uniform.

The Paley Center for Media
For those looking for a more detailed and extensive celebration of the moving image, The Paley Center for Media at 25 West 52nd Street might well be the perfect day trip for a television fan. The Paley Center features a large collection of archived television shows, specials, commercials and news items dating back as far as the 1940s. Visitors can select and watch shows on individual consoles, choosing from a catalogue that features over 160,000 items.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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