What Hotel Was Home Alone Filmed In New York – What role do movies play in helping us understand a version of New York that is no longer with us?

There’s a place on Central Park Mall, just north of the statue of the unknown poet Fitz-Greene Halleck, where people tend to experience an intense sense of déjà vu, even if they’ve never been to New York before.

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What fills that void depends on how old you are and whether you’re a cinephile. It may be so

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Each of these films, whether grounded in gritty realism or indulging in flights of fancy, captures something essential about New York. Film, perhaps better than any other medium, has the unique ability to both freeze time, preserving our sometimes forgotten past, and act as a touchstone for our own emotions and memories.

, the classic holiday movie with multiple scenes set in Central Park. Even people who have never been to New York have a strong connection to the park, in part because of the film’s central character Kevin McAllister (played by Macaulay Culkin) and his relationship with the park’s resident pigeon lady (Brenda Fricker). In one scene, Kevin hides from inept criminal duo Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) by jumping into a trunk in the back of a taxi on Bethesda Terrace. With the so-called “Sticky Bandits” (formerly the Wet Bandits) looking for him, Kevin is drawn to Bow Bridge and Cherry Hill.

The problem with this scene is that the horses are not circling the Bethesda Terrace fountain, which was designed to be a central gathering place for pedestrians in the park. When people visit to recreate

, they can not. That dark underpass where the Pigeon Lady lives? It was filmed on a sound stage in a converted tennis club in Illinois.

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Was “a child’s idea of ​​New York,” says Devin Rattray, an actor and near-native New Yorker who played Kevin Buzz’s older brother in the first two

Movies. “It didn’t have a lot of reality, but it had the world’s greatest toy store” (Duncan’s Toy Box, in the movie) and a Central Park with street rides that “was scary at night.”

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He adds that the film encapsulates what New York means to so many people who are not from New York: “I know families who have planned

I recently met Rattray on the Upper West Side, where he lives and where McAllister’s fictional uncle Rob lives in the film. We spent the day working downtown visiting sites related to

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And we talk about the impact the film had on the city — and on Rattray, who had just started high school when he was the first

The film was released in 1990. The first film quickly became a box office phenomenon, changing his life “absolutely, totally, completely, in more ways than I knew or even realized.”

As we walked and talked, our conversation kept returning to the same questions: How has New York changed in the nearly 30 years since

Was released? And what role do films like his play in helping us understand a version of New York that is no longer with us?

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Films). The first film was a box office smash, but one that almost passed me by. I probably didn’t see it for the first time until network television began regular holiday broadcasts on Thanksgiving in 1995.

The plot is a variation of the original: Just before Christmas, the McAllister family, who live in the suburbs of Chicago, go on vacation. This time, instead of youngest son Kevin staying home alone, he makes it to O’Hare with the rest of the family, but mistakenly gets on the wrong plane and ends up flying to LaGuardia. The sequel then adds fish-out-of-water elements to the original’s slapstick.

When I first met Rattray, I had been working as a tour guide for several years, so I was more familiar with

FAO Schwarz’s giant piano – no one ever asked about these other films. Instead, I would field questions from visitors like: Does Donald Trump still own the Plaza? Is the pigeon lady based on an actual person? Where is Duncan’s toy box? People occasionally brought up Buzz (the character has a particularly loyal fan base), but since his scenes mostly took place outside of the city, those parts of the film didn’t stick very deeply in my mind.

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Lately what’s struck me hasn’t been the slapstick or The Dove Lady or even Rattray’s meme-able performance as Buzz, but the realization of how much the city has transformed. In an early draft of the script, very little was done to set the stage for Kevin’s arrival in New York: he briefly visits the Empire State Building, then checks into an apartment at the fictional Kensington Towers Hotel.

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By the time the film entered production, Kensington had been replaced by the Plaza, and the Empire State Building had been replaced by a montage of New York City landmarks. In the sequence, Kevin is taken across the Queensborough Bridge in a checkered cab; he heads to Radio City to take pictures on his Polaroid camera; then goes to Empire Diner in Chelsea before buying fireworks in Chinatown at Quong Yuen Shing and Co. and continue to Battery Park to look at the Statue of Liberty through an old-fashioned telescope.

Almost everything in this montage is gone. Paid telescopes were phased out years ago. The last Checker Cab stopped carrying tickets in 1999. Polaroid stopped making film for its original instant cameras in 2008. When tourists left Chinatown after 9/11, Quong Yuen Shing and Co., in business since 1891. , hang up.

. After Kevin leaves Buttery Park, he heads to the World Trade Center, which replaced the scene in the original script that would have been shot at the Empire State Building. After admiring the buildings from the square, he heads to the rooftop observation deck. Polaroids and vintage taxis evoke nostalgia, but seeing the Twin Towers on screen evokes more complex emotions.

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Roger Ebert, in his review of Home Alone, wrote that John Hughes “sometimes shows a genius for remembering what it’s like to be young.” Seeing the original Twin Towers on screen now, almost two decades after their destruction, evokes a similar reaction. We’re not just seeing them through Kevin’s eyes, but we’re reminiscing about our own younger selves. Using 9/11 as a metaphor for the gap between innocence and experience can be inaccurate and exaggerated. Still, seeing Kevin McAllister smile at the New York skyline from the observation deck evokes a sense of wonder that springs from a place deeper than just Macaulay Culkin’s performance.

Studies at Peaky Barista, a new cafe on the Upper West Side. To record our interview, I had acquired a vintage Deluxe Talkboy, the tape recorder that Kevin used in the film. I asked him if this beautifully decorated cafe was a symptom of the over-gentrification of our old neighborhood. A place like this was erasing New York on

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“Quite the opposite,” Rattray said. “Take a ride on Broadway. Every block has at least one closed shop. In contrast, he found the coffee shop refreshing: a real local mom-and-pop operation—and what’s more, one that’s ready to stake a claim on the same block as Starbucks.

As we walked in Central Park from Bethesda Terrace down the Mall to Wollman Rink and the lake, both featured in the film, I asked Rattray about the impact the two films had on his life. “I started high school two months ago

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Opened on November 26, 1990, and, as Devin pointed out, “was #1 at the box office through April … almost the entire school year. It was something I wasn’t prepared for – and neither were my parents, and they were in the business. But that was high school and life in New York. It was just something else.”

The city is changing, he said, “on a tectonic scale. The socioeconomic face of New York is changing absolutely irreversibly. There is an entire class of New Yorkers that will no longer exist, and that is the new New York, which is – as it always has been – made up of people who are not from New York. But it’s a whole new level of wealth that’s coming. And there is no room for a socioeconomic class that existed and built the city that I knew.”

From Central Park, we retreated to the Todd English Dining Room in the basement of the Plaza Hotel—perhaps part of that chic New York. “No one from here is here,” Rattray said. “And no one here is from here.”

Our next stop somewhat disproved that feeling. Not only is Rattray himself “from here” (despite his first six months in Hollywood), but as we stood outside the Plaza taking pictures, it turned out that the doorman we were talking to, Neil, recognized him—not from movies, but because he is actually Devin’s neighbor, living in a building less than a block away on the Upper West Side. People from here

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, a symbol of luxury as it has been since its opening in 1907. Here, Kevin confronts the doorman

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