Woody Allen's Manhattan
Because Annie Hall, Manhattan and strolling through the city make life worth living.
Wed Nov 18 2009
Start: Pier 13
Distance: 9.1 miles
Time: 3 hours
For Woody Allen fans, the end of November brings two great events. On Thursday 19 at the 92nd Street Y (1395 Lexington Ave at 92nd St; 212-415-5500, 92y.org; 7:30pm, $27), Columbia professor Jeremy Dauber will discuss Allen’s impressive but often forgotten early career as a comedian. Then, on Monday 23, Stuart Hample, the artist behind the neurotic comic strip Inside Woody Allen, appears with Dick Cavett at the Strand Bookstore (828 Broadway at 12th St; 212-473-1452, strandbooks.com; 7pm, free). But why stop there? To get the full Woody Allen experience, stroll through some of the sites depicted in his New York City masterpieces Annie Hall and Manhattan.
1 Alvy Singer and Annie Hall first meet at the now-defunct Wall Street Racquet Club on Pier 13, so start out downtown with a game of squash at the nearby New York Health & Racquet Club (39 Whitehall St between Pearl and Water Sts, 212-269-9800; day pass $25 plus court-time fee). Deep in the Financial District, you’re sure to run into a few “analysts,” but not the kind Woody’s characters typically rely on. If you’re an avid squash player, you may want to join this club—even if you’re of the Alvy mind-set and would never want to belong to a club that would have someone like yourself as a member.
2 Walk northeast to South Street Seaport and fight your way through the tourists la-di-da-ing around to get a good view of the Brooklyn Bridge. That was the gorgeous (or, as Annie might say, “neat”) backdrop for the scene in which Alvy and Annie profess their love to each other and kiss at dusk. Just a little foreshadowing for a certain other iconic bridge scene you may be familiar with.
3 Once again, fight through the tourists to hail a cab and head up the FDR. However frightening the ride is, just be grateful Annie isn’t the one making the car dodge trucks and cones as you hang on for dear life in the passenger seat. In fact, be glad her creepy, death-obsessed brother (played by a young Christopher Walken) isn’t behind the wheel either. Good driving must not run in the Hall family.
4 Get dropped off at Riverview Terrace at Sutton Square (E 58th St at the East River) for the view of the Queensboro Bridge that capped, in Manhattan, Isaac and Mary’s unofficial first date, which lasted till dawn.
5 Journey northewest to the new Beekman Theater(1271 Second Ave between 66th and 67th Sts, 212-585-4141). At the original Beekman, which was across the street(1254 Second Avenue) but has since been torn down, two pushy fans pester Alvy for an autograph before Annie shows up for their date. “Hey, dis is Alvy Singah!” (Since Annie is late for the start of Ingmar Bergman’s Face to Face, Alvy insists on heading across town to the New Yorker Theater at Broadway and 88th, which has since closed. There, Alvy famously addresses the audience while arguing with a moviegoer about Marshall McLuhan—and happens to have Mr. McLuhan on hand to prove his point. As Alvy says, “Boy, if life were only like this.”)
6 Head west on 66th toward Central Park, then south to 59th. Hop in a buggy to re-create Tracy and Isaac’s “corny” date in Manhattan (their last before they break up). In the carriage they kiss heartily—not only is the make-out session romantic, but considering the fumes that waft back from those horses, it’s also pretty impressive.
7 Ditch your ride at Central Park South and set out for the Empire Hotel’s rooftop bar (44 W 63rd St at Broadway, 12th floor; 212-956-3313, empirehotelnyc.com). Here, you can remake the subtitle scene that takes place on Annie’s rooftop, during which Annie and Alvy discuss the finer points of photography while their minds utter second-guessing self-critiques. Also, be sure to take in the view of 63rd Street and Lincoln Center, the spot where Annie and Alvy part ways in the film’s final moments.
8 Next, hike up to the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History (81st St between Central Park West and Columbus Ave; 212-769-5200; $16), the updated version of the Hayden Planetarium, where Isaac and Mary escape during an electrical storm. Use your brain (that most overrated organ) to count Saturn’s moons and maybe, if you’re on a date, commit some interstellar canoodling.
9 After checking out the expanding universe, work on expanding your stomach at Zabar’s (2245 Broadway between 80th and 81st Sts; 212-787-2000), the quintessential Jewish market, which Isaac and Tracy walk by in Manhattan. Just beware the hordes of old Jewish ladies who have elbows sharper than Willis Reed’s. Order a sandwich of hand-sliced corned beef on fresh rye ($5.50)—but remember what Isaac says: “Corned beef should not be blue.” You may not yet have faith in people, but in New York, you can always have faith in a good sandwich.
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