12 NYC Hotspots Featured on the Show Friends
Published by Josh Hirsch on 2/17/2020
The TV show “Friends” is beloved by fans all over the world. Its six central characters rose to stardom on the show and many still even remain friends today. What doesn’t exist? Many of the show’s filming locations. Though it takes places in NYC, “Friends” was filmed almost entirely in LA. The saddest part is that Central Perk never existed (though it was recreated in SoHo briefly to celebrate the show’s anniversary. Below are 12 NYC hotspots seen on the show “Friends.” Every scene was filmed on set in LA, but they recreated the NYC location.
Five out of the six friends lived in Greenwich Village, so it makes sense that the producers would have recreated more real-life locations from this neighborhood than any other.
- The Friends Building
Monica, Rachel, Joey and Chandler all lived in a building on Bedford and Grove in the Village. Though none of the scenes were shot here, this building (about The Little Owl restaurant and wine bar) is used in nearly all the exterior shots of the apartment.
Location: Bedford and Grove, Greenwich Village.
Episode/Scene: Nearly all the episodes in all seasons include scenes at the building where Monica, Joey, Chandler and Rachel live.
- Ugly Naked Guy’s Apartment
The Ugly Naked Guy became a series regular after some of the characters comment watching this nudist from the living room of Monica’s and Rachel’s apartment. Viewers can enjoy closeups of Ugly Naked Guy from behind (though you never see his actual face — reminiscent of Norm’s wife on “Cheers”).
His apartment would have been the wooden structure across the street from Monica’s and Rachel’s apartment. Legend has it that one of the producers lived in this building and the ideas for the show was cooked up in this apartment during a party. The original name? “Once Upon a Time in Greenwich Village.”
Yeah, we like “Friends” better too.
Location: Bedford and Grove, Greenwich Village.
Episode/Scene: Season 3, Episode 8: The One With the Giant Poking Device.
The Lucille Lortel Theatre makes several appearances in season 3, after Joey gets an acting gig here. While the theater was recreated on a soundstage in LA, it is a working theater in the Village (and one beloved by life-long New Yorkers).
Location: 121 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village.
Episode/Scene: Season 3, various episodes.
- Village Cigar Sign
The Village Cigar sign makes a few appearances in the series. Like Friends’ apartment on Bedford and Grove, a shot of this sign was used to give viewers a sense of time and space. Whenever the producers wanted to alert viewers that the scene was taking place in Greenwich Village (sometimes at the Friends’ apartment and sometimes at Phoebe’s or other neighborhood hotspots), a shot of this sign briefly preceded the scene.
Location: 7th Avenue and Christopher Street, Greenwich Village.
Episode/Scene: Season 3, Episode 21 (and a handful of other episodes): The One With a Chick and a Duck.
- Village Bank ATM Vestibule
The Village Bank ATM makes an appearance toward the beginning of season 1. In Episode 7, Chandler gets locked inside here during a blackout — with a model. You won’t find the Village Bank actually in Greenwich Village, though. The Village Bank doesn’t exist in real life (in NYC at least).
Location: LA soundstage (imaginary Greenwich Village).
Episode/Scene: Season 1, Episode 7: The One With the Blackout.
- Phoebe’s Apartment
As viewers, it’s hard to tell just how close Phoebe lives to the gang over on Bedford and Grove. All we know is she lives on Morton Street; in some episodes, the cast mentions the address, “5 Morton Street.” In other episodes, we see the exterior and the number on the building reads 16. In real life, Morton Street is very close to the fictional Friends’ apartment — only a 10-minute walk away.
Location: 5 Morton Street/16 Morton Street, Greenwich Village.
Episode/Scene: Season 7, Episode 15: The One With Joey’s New Brain.
Other Manhattan Neighborhoods
While “Friends” predominantly took place in Greenwich Village, the show also highlighted other NYC neighborhoods (especially in Manhattan). Other neighborhoods regularly in the show include Midtown, the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side.
- Friends Fountain (Opening Scene)
From the very beginning of “Friends,” we find ourselves a little duped by the producers. The famous opening segment (where the six main cast members are dancing in a fountain to “I’ll Be There for You” by the Rembrandts) was filmed on a sound studio in LA.
The good news is that the fountain the producers built was modeled after a real fountain in Central Park, Cherry Hill Fountain. You can find it just up the hill from the famous Bethesda Fountain, where the horse and carriage terminate.
Location: Cherry Hill, Central Park (a five-minute walk from Bethesda Fountain).
Episode/Scene: The opening sequence of each episode.
The producers often recreated Central Park in LA for various outdoor scenes. In one memorable episode in particular, they recreated the walking and running paths and trails to create some comedic relief between Phoebe and Rachel.
Rachel announces she’s going running and invites Phoebe to come along. She quickly regrets her decision when she realizes that Phoebe runs pretty erratically; Rachel is pretty embarrassed but then feels bad after finding out why Phoebe runs the way she does.
Location: LA soundstage, Central Park.
Episode/Scene: Season 6, Episode 7: The One Where Phoebe Runs.
Ross loved telling anyone who would listen that he was a paleontologist. On the show, he held two jobs: he had a brief stint as an NYU professor and he also happened to work at the Museum of Prehistoric History (in real life, this is the American Museum of Natural History).
While many episodes took place at this museum, one stands out: the one where Chandler gets a job as a tour guide at the museum.
Location: Central Park West and 79th Street, Manhattan.
Episode/Scene: Season 4, Episode 11 (and other various episodes): The One With Phoebe’s Uterus.
In season 3, Rachel snags a job at Bloomingdales (thanks to Chandler’s advice and encouragement). In the pilot, we all remember that Rachel leaves her wealthy husband on the altar and moves in with the only person she didn’t invite to the wedding — her ex-best friend, Monica.
After realizing she relied financially on men her entire life, she gets a humbling job as a waitress at Central Perk. While Rachel isn’t the best waitress, her boss Gunther has a crush on her and lets her stay on.
She finally decides to go after her dream job and applies to be a buyer at Bloomingdales in season 3. Possibly one of the most hilarious episodes is the one where she has a crush on her customer (her once real-life husband, Tate Donovan).
While there are several Bloomingdales locations in New York, Rachel specifically works at the flagship location on 3rd Avenue.
Location: 1000 3rd Avenue, Manhattan.
Episode/Scene: Season 4, Episode 13 (and various other episodes): The One With Rachel’s Crush.
- Plaza Hotel
The first episode of season 7 brings us to the Plaza Hotel, where Monica and Chandler finally are celebrating their engagement. Monica is unable to enjoy herself because she thinks that Rachel is using the engagement party to try to steal her shining moment.
Location: 768 5th Avenue, Manhattan.
Episode/Scene: Season 7, Episode 1: The One With Monica’s Thunder.
While we’re still not sure 100 percent what it is that Chandler did for work, Episode 15 of season 1 sees us at Chandler’s office in Midtown. He is offered a promotion and overuses the word WENUS. The exterior shot is a building that does indeed exist in Midtown, the Solow Building. You’ll also recognize the building from other famous shows shot in Manhattan, including “Sex in the City” and “Gossip Girl.”
Location: Solow Building, 9 W. 57th Street, Manhattan.
Episode/Scene: Season 1, Episode 15: The One With the Stoned Guy