5 New York City Apartments We All Know and Love

Another post by a guest writer, please let me know how you like this one. My girlfriend is a big fan of at least two of these TV shows, so she enjoyed reading this post. Hope you will too.

-Eric

Ah, New York. A city of glitz, glam, spacious apartments, well-coordinated wall art, and apparently no IKEA whatsoever.

Riiiight. Only the most upper of echelons can truly relate to the spacious accommodations, vintage furniture, and shady streets shown on screen. If more than 2 seasons of any given show feature a plot line focused on how poor/unemployed/down-on-their-luck its characters are, you know and I know that an end-of-the-hall broom closet is more believable than a balcony. No “rent control” is that good.
So which shows got it right? And who tried to trick us? Take a look and see.

Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment: Sex and the City

Carrie_Collage
Carrie’s well-known stoop alongside her shabby-chic kitchen and bedroom from Sex and the City. Images from: cherishtoronto on Flickr, eclecticinteririordesigngroup.blogspot.com, and sensationalcolor.com

Fictional location: 245 E 73rd Street, between Park and Madison
Actual location: 66 Perry Street, between Bleeker and 4th
East 73rd street actually looks something like this:

Carrie_actual
It’s got the red brick, but is lacking the staircase. Where would Carrie be without her stoop? Image from: Google Maps

Believability: A spacious one-bedroom with walk-through closet and bathroom and a full kitchen – sounds too good to be true, although her décor is not overtly ostentatious. A quick check of Padmapper’s apartments for rent on East 73rd street sets the average rental price at $3,000 per month. Coupled with Carrie’s job as a newspaper columnist (who couldn’t possibly make over $40,000 per year, right?) and her obsession with Manolo Blahniks, we give this set location a big, fat “Yeah Right.” Good thing it’s rent controlled…

Jerry Seinfeld’s Apartment: Seinfeld

Seinfeld_collage
The outside shot of Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment is actually an apartment complex in Los Angeles. Inside, though, is as comfy and “decorated by a guy” as we remember it. Images from: voteprime on Flickr and dvdsetcollection.com

Fictional location: 129 West 81st Street
Actual location: 757 New Hampshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

West 81st Street goes a little something like this:

Seinfeld_actual
Jerry Seinfeld lived on the actual West 81st Street when making his break into stand-up in New York. Image from: Google Maps

Believability: This one makes sense. Seinfeld’s income:amenities ratio is perfection. A successful stand-up comedian deserves a clean, roomy one bedroom on the Upper West Side. If Seinfeld the show was still running today, Seinfeld the character would have Ikea’d his apartment a bit more, but we love the 90s two-toned walls and mismatched furniture. With similar apartments on 129 West 81st Street coming in at around $2,000 per month, we applaud Jerry and Dave for keeping things realistic.

Monica Geller’s Apartment: Friends

Monica_Collage
The familiar façade and brightly-colored kitchen from Friends. How long do you think it took Monica to dust all her kitcheny knick-knacks? Images from: khgrace.nomadlife.org and the Friends NBC myspace page

Fictional location: Greenwich Village, Apartment 20
Actual location: The corner of Grove and Bedford, Greenwich Village

Believability: For a gal who spends the first several seasons vacillating between poor, unemployed, employed by a diner, and then poor again (didn’t she at one point have $127.00 to her name?) the line cook turned executive chef lived in some pretty sweet digs. Together with her roommates who were even less financially secure than she (Rachel, the barista who couldn’t make a latte, and Phoebe, who was a masseuse sometimes), how much could these gals really rake in? 30 grand a year? 35? 40?

Friends explains that the apartment is a hand-me-down from Grandma Geller, and thus rent-controlled at far less than market value, but honestly – when Padmapper gives similar New York apartments a monthly rent of $3,000 – 5,000, when did Grandma need to get her hands on this gem so that she could pass it on to Monica at the feasible rate of $200 a month?

Don Draper’s Apartment: Mad Men (Season 4)

Don Draper's Apartment Outside
The Waverly, built in 1928, is still standing today. Image from: kelly.frombrc on Flickr

Fictional location: 6th and Waverly
Actual Probable location: 136 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village

Believability: Always sticklers for accuracy, the guys behind Mad Men would want a building still standing to represent the home of newly-divorced Don Draper. A slew of “Maddicts” took it upon themselves to discover the real deal after Draper declares “6th and Waverly” to the cabby, and have determined 136 Waverly as where the Draper-magic happens.

draper_collage
A contemporary apartment in the Waverly features fresh, white-washed walls, as opposed to the 60s bachelor-pad vibe. Images from: stribling.com and thegothamist.com

While the current apartments boast better lighting than the grimy glow of Draper’s pad, today’s selling price for a one bedroom is a cool 769 thousand; Maddicts guesstimate Draper could have been sitting pretty for a few hundred dollars a month. Not too shabby for an ad executive with low expectations for interior decorating.

Liz Lemon’s Apartment: 30 Rock

Liz_Collage
Nothing like functional air-conditioner covers to show off a residence’s true potential. Inside, Liz Lemon’s apartment is cozy and comfy. Images from: smlhope on Flickr and youaremyfave.com

Fictional location: 160 Riverside Drive
Actual location: Right where they said it’d be

Believability: An A+ for Tina Fey & Co. Since 30 Rock is loosely based on Fey’s life as head writer for Saturday Night Live, she knows how to keep it believable. Available one-bedroom apartments around 160 Riverside Drive in the Upper West Side sit squarely at $2,000 per month, which seems entirely reasonable for a head writer raking in about 1.5 million every year. Lemon’s interior is not overly-decorative and no one is surprised when she can afford to buy it (plus the apartment next door) during the fourth season.

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32 Comments

  1. Posted August 24, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Great article! More like these please.

  2. Wendy
    Posted August 26, 2010 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Eric — wanted to write you individually, but couldn’t find a way, even though i did it a month ago. I’m writing to report success through padmapper. Afer you helped me fix my filters, I was able to help my daughter in Savannah find an apt in the building she had reluctantly had to leave a few months ago. I really appreciate your service. Thanks so much…wendy

  3. Sarah
    Posted November 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the fun & interesting article! How about doing the apartments from Will & Grace?

  4. Nicole
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Will and Grace also featured an apartment on Riverside Drive…155 I believe. That would have been a good addition to this article. I wonder if they ever hung out with Liz Lemon? :)

  5. Alex
    Posted April 9, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    30 Rock does keep it believable, although this one tiny detail has always irked me: Liz Lemon and the 4-5 neighbors that figure into the plot in various episodes all have the most beautiful front doors. They’re black wooden doors with mouldings that perfectly match interior doors like the bedroom door. It’s gorgeous! And totally out of touch with reality. What NYC apartment have you seen that doesn’t have the standard issue reinforced steel front door for security reasons? If you know of a real apartment with doors like that, let me know! I want to live there!

  6. Posted October 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Love this article! Thanks!

  7. Patr4ick
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget Carrie Bradshaw moved to NY in the 80′s, maybe she scored that apt under rent stabilization. and had extra dough for the Choos and Manolos. As for Liz Lemon, many pre-war apt buildings on the Upper West Side have great details like the mouldings featured on the set of the show.

    • Jennie
      Posted July 9, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      In the episode where she breaks up with Aiden and must move out of her apt, she states that her rent control apt is only $700 a month.

  8. Kate
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I must comment on the IKEA mention. While on your list, Liz Lemon is the closest in reality (and makes the most), she’s also the one that does shop at IKEA. They had an episode in which they visited IKEA last season (hillarious).
    Also, Carrie wrote for a New York newspaper, VOGUE, her articles were picked up for film rights, and she wrote a book (or two?). It’s possible she still couldn’t afford that 3k apartment, but I think she would have made well above 40k.

    • Meghan
      Posted May 25, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Carrie doesn’t write for Vogue and her books and the movie rights came later on in the series. In the first few seasons she just had the column and a very expensive shoe habit. I think they do bring up the issue of her being in significant debt but you can’t put rent on your credit card. While, you can now at some places but I don’t think you could when SATC was out.

  9. Lia
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Of course Carrie’s lifestyle was unrealistic and the apartment was explained away with rent control. However, they did show you that Carrie was savvy and would buy not just new designer goods (clothes and shoes), but was all about the vintage finds (including some of the shoes). What the article did not suss out, is how much she would have actually PAID for the actual apartment when her and Aidan split (he bought it, she had to buy him out). She received something like $40K from Charlotte’s engagement ring for her down payment (to be paid back). Would this have been a realistic down payment for actually purchasing the apartment? The producers of the show are pretty good about details, but I think on that one they maybe asked you to suspend your disbelief. She eventually starts to make some really good money (after she has bought the apt.) from the advances on her first book.

  10. Kim
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I’d love to hear about the apartments on How I Met Your Mother!

  11. Erin
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think Phoebe even lived with Monica and Rachel…

    • Mariola
      Posted November 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Phoebe never lived with Monica AND Rachel. But it was stated that she had been Monica’s roommate before Rachel moved in, so before the series started. Actually, I think that’s the only reason we are given to explain why they are friends.

    • Victoria
      Posted November 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Phoebe was Monica’s original roommate, pre-Rachel.

  12. Posted November 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Re: Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment – There’s an episode where she mentions making $40k a year, but remember that SATC started back in the 90s, so rents and salaries were a little lower. Also, her apartment isn’t a 1 bedroom, it’s a rent-controlled studio. When her building goes co-op she takes the opportunity to buy her unit (well, Aidan buys it for her and then when they breakup, she has to buy it from him) for something like $500k, taking advantage of a large loan from Charlotte.

  13. Matthew
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Courtenay Cox was born in 1964, so assuming Monica Geller is around the same age, her grandparents could easily have rented the Greenwich Village apartment before or during World War II, which would easily land in rent control territory. If Monica lived in the apartment with Grandma for two years before Grandma took off to Florida, she could legally take over the lease when Grandma left, however, I recall the super saying once that he knew that Monica was illegally subletting her grandmother’s apartment.

    Will’s and Grace’s apartments on Riverside Drive would be a little tricky. The series wasn’t consistent about whether Will’s apartment was “rent controlled” or a coop. As Will and Grace alter the bathrooms in season 1, I would have to guess Will would have to own it (a landlord would want to do the reno and increase the controlled rent), but when Grace rents the apartment across the hall, it makes me think it’s a condo, because most UWS coops don’t want to know about renters, and would never approve Jack, even with his Mom and Will as guarantors.

    How nerdy am I.

    • Posted November 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      The most nerdy, but that’s a good thing, and I should ask you to write any future articles about this. Any related topics you like to nerd out on?

  14. Jenny
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    A one bedroom apartment in the 80′s on Riverside Drive for $2000 per month? That does NOT exist, whether or not it’s listed on padmapper. No way no how. More like $3500 per month at least, sorry. Still, Liz Lemon could afford it.

  15. Rachel
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Re: Carrie’s apartment: $40K wouldn’t have come close to a down payment with a $500K selling price. Down payments on a co-op are 20-25% of the purchase price. You can put down as little as 10% on a condo, but that’s still $50K, plus closing costs, etc etc etc. And with that kitchen, walk-in closet, and huge bedroom, no way would she pay as little as $3000 in rent for that apartment.

  16. mandy
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Who wrote thisw? Someone from Cleveland? Carrie Bradwshaws apartment is not between Park and Lex. —-it is between 2nd and 3rd avenues —- 245 East 73rd….
    how long have you lived in NY expert?????
    you even found a picture of the WRONG block

    • Posted November 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Heh I believe the writer used GMaps and specifically street view to get that image. I’d assume they were just using the address and somehow got it a few blocks over, between Madison and Lex. Simple mistake, but the pic is consistent with the text. This was also written a couple of years ago.

    • Autumn
      Posted December 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      @ mandy: Did you wake up in a horrible mood today? Geee Lighten up. This is all for fun!

  17. Bee
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I don’t know about the actual shooting location of the Friends apt. When I did the Warner Studios tour in LA I was told that not a single scene of Friends was shot in NY. They have kept the coffee shop set (you can walk in it) and showed us a small patch of grass that was used as “Central Park”.

  18. Alex
    Posted November 12, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Can you do this again, and include at least one or two of of the apartments from ‘How I Met Your Mother’? I have always been so curious. Pretty sure they are all around the Upper West side, that’s where my knowledge stops.

  19. Jenney
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Hey stupid question but do you know where monica on friends got her kettle?

  20. thebockster
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    I wondered about Carrie’s rent too, and I ended up watching an episode where she mentions that she pays $750 for her apartment because of rent control! I think it’s the one where she ends up buying her apartment or something.

  21. Sanne
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Cute article. My thoughts on Jerry Seinfeld’s apt…. possibly spot on, but how do you explain Kramer just across the hall? Doesn’t strike me as Kramer ever having been gainfully employed, at least sufficiently to afford an apt. on par with Jerry’s.

    • Posted December 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Interesting point. Maybe Kramer’s place was rent controlled? I’ve heard of some of those going for $40/mo in neighborhoods where $2,000 is the norm…

  22. Jean
    Posted March 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Huge SATC fan here, so just wanted to say that Carrie is supposed to live on E73rd Street between Park & Madison, source is season 6, episode 4 “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little”, Carrie gives a cabbie her address when her and Berger are coming home from an awkward dinner, claiming she’s in heels so won’t walk from the corner. This is from memory, sorry if some of the little details are wrong.

  23. Mara
    Posted May 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    For FRIENDS, you forgot to mention that Monica’s appartment is a 6th floor walk-up, which makes it less desirable.

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