Seventeen years after the last episode was broadcast, the cast of the popular show is back on our screens this week for Friends: The Reunion special looking back on the hit '90s sitcom. But what about the iconic locations of the show?
Any Friends fan worth their salt knows the series was filmed in Los Angeles, but some of its most memorable exteriors were shot on site in New York. Here are 13 of our favorites, from legendary landmarks to lesser-known locales – yes, including that apartment.
1. The opening credits
The famous fountain memorialized in the show’s opening credits can be found on a Warner Bros. backlot in Burbank, California – and a Boston-inspired one, at that. But that minor detail hasn’t stopped fans from seeking out watery doppelgängers around town. Central Park’s Cherry Hill Fountain is often mistaken for its onscreen counterpart, while Pulitzer Fountain at Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza is regularly cited as the inspiration for the one in those iconic scenes.
2. The apartment
The West Village building that served as the exterior of Monica, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey’s pre-war walk-up needs little introduction – it has its own tag on Google Maps, after all. Located at 90 Bedford Street, on the corner of Grove, the so-called Friends Apartment looks much the same as it did in the show’s heyday, fire escape and all, though you won’t find Central Perk on the ground floor. Instead, there’s a classy neighborhood joint called Little Owl, which slings its signature meatball sliders in lieu of macchiatos at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
3. Ross’s homes
Ross cycled through three apartments during the course of the show, only two of which made it to the screen. Until he married Emily and moved out in season five, he lived at Washington Square Village, described by Village Preservation as a “modernist superblock of apartments built by Robert Moses in the late 1950s just south of Washington Square Park.” After their divorce, he floated around a bit before landing at Ugly Naked Guy’s apartment. On the show, it’s across the courtyard from Monica and Rachel; in reality, it’s across the street at 17 Grove.
4. Phoebe’s place
In the season seven episode “The One With Joey’s New Brain,” Phoebe found a cell phone at Central Perk, and when its owner called to retrieve it, she gave him her address: 5 Morton Street, a brick building on a quiet, tree-lined block, just a few minutes’ walk from the rest of the gang on Bedford.
5. Rachel’s first fashion job
After a disastrous stint as a waitress at the coffee shop and before she landed a plum position at Ralph Lauren, Rachel scored a job at Bloomingdale’s as an assistant buyer – until her department closed down and she was demoted to personal shopper. While the sales team at the department store’s Third Avenue flagship won’t let you walk in her shoes, they’ll let you buy a few pairs…along with all the designer clothes, bags, jewelry, and perfume you can carry in those trademark brown bags.
6. Ross’s workplaces
The ‘50s-themed diner where Monica had to don a blonde wig and take orders on rollerskates was a SoHo fixture for decades. Sadly, it’s no longer there, but her brother’s employers are still around, especially if you squint a bit. During the show’s early years, Ross served as a paleontologist at the oxymoronically named Museum of Prehistoric History – a thinly veiled stand-in for the Upper West Side’s American Museum of Natural History, where you’ll see a 94-foot model of a blue whale and yes, a whole lot of dinosaur fossils.
Following that, he got a gig as a professor at New York University, despite the fact that the real NYU doesn’t actually have a paleontology department. The downtown area around the school is still worth a visit, though, particularly Washington Square Park, a gathering place in the heart of the village. Just watch out for the chess hustlers if you want to leave with your savings intact.
7. Chandler’s office
No one knew exactly what Chandler did for a living, but they all knew where he worked: the Solow Building, a distinctive black-and-white skyscraper looming 49 stories above 57th Street, with a gently sloping facade reminiscent of a ski jump. Completed in 1974, it covers 1.4 million square feet and reaches heights of 672 feet, making for one impressive photo op.
8. Joey’s favorite theater
Joey racked up an impressive amount of acting credits over the years, from films and plays to soaps and indies. (He even appeared in print ads warning of the dangers of venereal disease – but more on that later.) Some of his most notable performances, including the musical Freud!, were staged at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, an Off-Broadway venue on Christopher Street known for its buzzy productions and star-studded history. See a play, catch a reading, or simply swing by and take a look at the Playwrights’ Sidewalk, a permanent monument to the city’s Off-Broadway theater writers.
9. Phoebe’s busking spot
She and her guitar may have been regulars at Central Perk, but in the show’s first episode, Phoebe tried to pick up some extra cash in a much less cozy locale: the Bleecker Street subway station. Just north of Houston, the 6 train stop is also where Joey’s potential date bailed when she saw his modeling effort – as the face of sexually transmitted infection in giant, poster-size form.
10. Madison Square Garden
For athletes and rockstars alike, few arenas hold the cachet of Madison Square Garden, the legendary home of both the New York Rangers and the New York Knicks. The latter may be a perpetual disappointment, but that didn’t matter much to the titular sixsome, who went to games, relied on spare seats to finagle dates, and dangled the promise of season tickets during that infamous apartment bet. The Rangers weren’t left out either: early in the first season, the guys went to a hockey game – and Ross caught a puck in the face.
11. The Pierre
When Monica and Chandler were planning their wedding, they didn’t pull any punches. Their venue was The Pierre, a luxurious landmark property on Fifth Avenue dating to the 1920s, and the couple went all out, inviting a ton of people, organizing a mouthwatering feast, and booking a swing band for the reception. You’re not likely to catch a similar event if you stop by, but the art deco bar in the hotel lobby is open to the public for afternoon tea or evening cocktails, as long as you dress the part. (Smart-casual, that is – no Friends cosplay necessary.)
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