7 Places in New York that inspired ‘Fantastic Beasts'
And where to find them
Everyone's love for all things Harry Potter has been reignited (the question is: Was it ever extinguished, to begin with?) with the release of the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A spinoff from the textbook of the same name, the story follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), author of said textbook on his adventure in 1920's New York as he scrambles across the city to find his missing creatures that have escaped from his magical suitcase.
The film also introduces us to the Wizarding World in America where, though spells are said the same way, the name of the Ministry, the term to describe Muggles (No-Maj) and the laws are different—to name a few. Like every story, a little inspiration is needed to set it all up and in terms of location, JK Rowling and the filmmakers found it at these real life places in New York.
(Don't worry, we made this list spoiler-free.)
1. New York County National Bank
One of the early scenes in Fantastic Beasts is set in Steen National Bank, which was inspired by this historical landmark. Originally built in 1907, it is now a luxury home on the West Side of Manhattan.
2. Woolworth Building
Also, the headquarters of the US' version of the Ministry of Magic known as Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA). Designed by Cass Gilbert, the Woolworth Building held the title of the world's tallest skyscraper when it was completed in 1913. And it's the stone owl carving on the big entrance archway and the overall neo-Gothic architecture of the building that made JK Rowling choose it as the MACUSA HQ.
3. Tenement Museum
Located in Lower East Side, the building holds an interesting background as it became a tenement in 1863, a home to almost 7,000 working class families, particularly for the Jewish people from Europe, until it was shut down in 1935; and has since been preserved and converted into a museum. This was the inspiration used for Jacob Kowalski's home.
4. The Writers House
In Fantastic Beasts, it's the basis for the design of the witches, Queenie and Tina Goldstein's apartment for its "jewel-like Victorian facade of red brick, polished granite, and ornamental terracotta". In its original glory days, it was a 19th-century home built by brothers William Waldorf and John Jacob Astor III in 1881. Today, it's the headquarters of a literary agency called Writers House.
5. 124 Old Rabbit Club
In the Wizarding World, this is the underground, speakeasy called The Blind Pig which the characters visit in the film.
6. Bergdorf Goodman
It's one of the places where Newt and his newfound friends venture to find one of his missing creatures but interestingly, the famous store didn't actually exist at its current location at 58th Street and Fifth Avenue until 1928. Today, it features eight floors of women's clothes and an on-site restaurant while the men's store is across the street.
7. Old City Hall Subway Station
The place where majority of the final scenes took place here, New York City's first subway station which opened in 1904 and is sadly no longer in use. However, you can still visit it on a guided tour through the New York Transit Museum.
If you don't want to end up feeling like Newt Scamander on a wild goose chase across New York City (granted it didn't seem like he really felt that way) to find these locations, there's a new three-hour tour from On Location Tours that will take you through these sites and more. Alternatively, Warner Brothers has partnered with Google to let fans explore the 1926 setting of the film. Just open Maps, type in "Fantastic Beasts, New York City," and the magical locations will pop up.