Saturday, May 7, 2011

Awesome NYC Movie Map

Bernie Hou of Alien Loves Predator spent the last 5 months cramming 91 different New York movie references into one map for your guessing pleasure.

There is only one city in America.
There is only one city in the world.
They Might Be Giants, "P.S.O.K."

Here is something fun for you guys to do to while away the hours!  A map of NYC with cartoon-like icons of many of the famous movies filmed here (or films set in NYC, but which were actually shot in Toronto!  Oh, yes, Toronto is NYC’s butt double, in case you never realized!).  Apparently if you guess all 91 films correctly, you win a prize.  There is a high res image with all the little icons numbered – that’s what you need to use to submit your answers. 
“If it seems like all the movies you’ve ever seen take place somewhere in New York City, that’s because they do.  New York is where the aliens must attack, where landmarks are destroyed, where the world ends, and where good-looking people go to find other good-looking people.  It’s practically a law.
This is an illustrated 18″x24″ map of the history of films set in New York - more specifically, all the movies I could cram into a tiny 12-square-mile chunk of Manhattan.  There’s exactly 91 movies on here.  Can you name them all?
I’ll be giving away a FREE copy of this poster to the first person who sends me the names of all the movies, numbered 1-91.  AND also winning free posters will be 3 randomly selected people from the rest of the correct lists sent to me within this first week, before next Wednesday, May 11.  Here’s a high-res version of the map with each movie numbered from 1-91.
After a week I’ll release the full list here; follow me on Twitter to make sure you catch it.
This took about 5 months of researching and watching a ton of old movies, and about 3 weeks of drawing.  The best movies I watched included The Warriors (on the map), Escape from New York (on), and an old one called A Thousand Clowns (not on).  The worst movie I watched was Sex and the City, holy goddamn.”  From

“Are aliens landing in UFOs? They'll land in Queens.
Is a giant alien monster attacking? It's attacking Manhattan.
Is there a neighborhood full of world-class martial artists with superhuman powers? It's in New York's Chinatown.
Is there a magical gateway between worlds? It's in the Queens Midtown Tunnel (or in Central Park, or maybe in the subway tunnels, depending on the cuteness-darkness factor of the story being told).
Is there a mysterious gigantic cavern hidden just beneath the earth's surface, wherein aliens once upon a time created all life on earth?  It's underneath the Battery.
Is there only one person with the special gifts needed to save a distant planet or alternate dimension?  He lives in Tribeca; not the SUV, but the place that surely everyone has heard of, 'cause New York is just that famous.
Is a prominent figure from religion or myth manifest once more and living in the world of humans?  He's in Central Park.
An Ultimate Showdown Of Ultimate Destiny? Madison Square Garden's got front row seats.
Want to do a Reality Show focusing into the culinary field, or art, or dance or theatre? New York is the place to be, since people don't eat, paint, dance or act anywhere else.
What Tokyo Is The Center Of The Universe is to Anime and Japanese TV, and Britain Is Only London is to UK productions, Big Applesauce seems to be to American TV: the idea that anything that occurs in, or references, New York is automatically more interesting to the average American viewer than anything elsewhere.  At the very least, like Tokyo, New York is where more than half of television's writers are (the rest reside in LA), which makes it more interesting to the writers than anything elsewhere.  Not to mention "writing what they know."  Picture how these guys tend to portray the South and Midwest...
The rule seems to be that if a series or movie proposal does not require another setting (Kirk's Rock, for instance), it should be set in New York.  If an original, successful series is set in Las Vegas, its Spin-Off will be more successful if set in New York.  If you can't possibly get the show to happen in New York, have at least one main character and as many minor ones as possible be from New York, and continually harp on about how much better New York is.
The bias is especially obvious when characters speak about specific parts of New York casually (everybody in the world knows which subway train you have to take to get to 115th street, right?), while the entirety of Middle America usually consists of about ten distinct places, or when any group of people naturally includes a Jewish person, because isn't one eighth of the population everywhere Jewish?
There is a reason for this: the skyline is just so darn recognizable.  In addition, New York City is the most populous metropolitan area in the United States (and the 4th most populous in the world), possibly justifying the frequency with which events of great significance occur there in fiction.  Further justification for this is New York's diversity.  Literally almost every single ethnic, racial and religious group is represented to some degree or another on the streets of the five boroughs, and nearly every language spoken on Planet Earth can be heard there.  Although most US cities are cosmopolitan to one degree or another, none of them come even close to rivaling New York.  
In particular, many American writers, at least in the film and television industries, live or have lived in New York (or Los Angeles or both).  Less justified is the commonality of the appearance of New Hampshire in literature, which is due to the fact that those authors not living in New York City live in New Hampshire (having gone there to escape New York). From:


  1. As everyone knows, New York City is really just Manhattan. A Bronx Tale was filmed on Arthur Avenue but that's not actually in NYC so it didn't make this map. Maybe in the future there will be an "outer boroughs" film map.

  2. Very true! And of course some iconic NYC films that were set in Brooklyn were (presumably) left off the map, as well: Moonstruck, Do the Right Thing, Saturday Night Fever, The French Connection, Sophie's Choice, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Requim for a Dream, and many more. Let's also not forget Queens, my home borough! Although not many films are set in Queens, many are actually filmed there, no doubt because of the two major studios located in Astoria (Kaufman and Silvercup). Quintessential NYC movies, such as The Godfather, Men in Black, and Goodfellas, all had major portions filmed there. Not sure if that makes them "Queens" movies or not. Apparently, films set in Queens are popular amongst independent film-makers these days. Check out "Queens Films Are Highlight Of Tribeca Film Festival," at
    That's OK, we Queens-ites can still claim Paul Simon, the Ramones, Martin Scorcese, Louis Armstrong, W.C. Fields, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Bassie, Tony Bennett, Bix Beiderbecke, Harry Belefonte, James Brown!, Francis Ford Coppola, Richard Feynman, Jackie Robinson, and Adrien Brody! Plus almost every other jazz great you can think of! Not bad! (Unfortunately, also Donald Trump, Howard Stern, and Nancy Reagan!)

  3. for what it's worth, here are the answers, posted yesterday:

  4. Thanks, Keith! I didn't even get half of them!