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Exploring the New York City Backdrops of Sex and the City

Sex and the City, the wildly successful TV series that captivated audiences with its fashionable characters and hooky storylines, showcased many New York City locations with its fairy tale version of city life, more than a few of which were in our neighborhoods. These locales were often as important as the characters themselves in the show, and shaped a generation’s perceptions — rightly or wrongly — of what New York and these sometimes-familiar spots were like. Today we’re taking a closer look at a few of them, and honing in on their real stories and histories, aside from their small screen notoriety.

Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment

Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment in Sex and the City is a focal point of the show. While her fictional address was 245 East 73rd Street, the actual exterior shots were filmed in the West Village, just around the corner from Sarah Jessica Parker’s actual residence. The apartment scenes were originally shot at 64 Perry Street for the first three seasons, before transitioning to its neighboring building, 66 Perry Street. Both townhouses were built as part of a row of four in 1866. No. 66 was built and designed by William H. Hume, while No. 64 was built by George F. Coddington, Jr., and designed by Robert Mook. Both houses showcase Italianate-style architecture and are located in the Greenwich Village Historic District. Of the two, 66 Perry Street, with its generous stoop and ornately-detailed doorway, has become a favorite for fans. The owners of 66 Perry Street have taken steps to protect their privacy, including blurring their home on Google Maps, due to the influx of Sex and the City fanatics.

The entrance to 66 Perry Street.

Interestingly, William Hume, an architect and builder who purchased several lots in the area, lived in 66 Perry Street until 1872, when he sold it to Frederick Knubel, a grocer. Knubel’s son would later become the first President of the United Lutheran Church in America. Despite its glamorous appearance, Carrie’s rent-stabilized apartment supposedly cost her only $700 a month, which may explain how a freelance writer could afford her extravagant shoe collection.

Jefferson Market Garden

The Jefferson Market Garden served as the charming setting for Miranda and Steve’s spontaneous wedding in Sex and the City. Their decision to get married there was prompted by a comedic mishap involving Miranda’s broken shopping bags and Steve stepping in gum right in front of the picturesque public space. The Jefferson Market Library, formerly the Jefferson Market Courthouse, was designed by architect Frederick Clarke Withers and built between 1874 and 1877. The courthouse functioned as the Third Judicial District Courthouse until 1945, after which it began to fall into disrepair. 

Facing demolition in 1958, public outcry led to its reuse as a branch of the New York Public Library. The adjacent detention center was eventually demolished, and the garden emerged in its place. Jefferson Market Library opened to the public in 1967, with the garden following several years later. This cherished spot has become an integral part of the Greenwich Village landscape. 

Samantha’s Meatpacking Apartment

In season three, Samantha’s search for a new living space away from nosy neighbors brought her to the Meatpacking District in downtown New York. Undergoing a significant transformation from its industrial and gritty roots, the district was emerging as a trendy and stylish neighborhood. Samantha’s fictional apartment at 300 Gansevoort Street embodies the area’s cultural shift. Opting for a luxurious loft, Samantha’s choice highlighted the growing appeal and desirability of the neighborhood. However, her clash with sex workers in the area (a controversial episode due to transphobic language) exemplified the tensions caused by the neighborhood’s rapid gentrification.

The district gained historic recognition in 2003 after a three year campaign led by Village Preservation, when the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated it as the Gansevoort Market Historic District.

St. Marks Church-In-The-Bowery

The historic St. Marks Church-In-The-Bowery, situated in the East Village, provides the setting for Lexi Featherston’s funeral in the final season of Sex and the City. Lexi Featherston, the brassy, once-fabulous party girl falls to her death from an open window while ranting at a cocktail party about how lame New York City has become. In the show, it is at Lexi Featherston’s funeral where Carrie announces her decision to leave her job and move to Paris with Aleksandr.

St. Marks Church-In-The-Bowery is the second oldest church in New York City, with its land originally purchased by Peter Stuyvesant in 1651. The property has been the site of continuous Christian worship since the mid-17th century with the current building constructed in 1799. The church’s steeple, fence, and portico were added in subsequent years. Architect Ernest Flagg designed the rectory at the turn of the 20th century, which now houses the offices of Village Preservation.

Lexi Featherston’s death is known as one of the most shocking scenes on Sex and the City. In recent times, the character has been revitalized as a prophetic figure, particularly as the question “Is New York dead?” resurfaced during and after the pandemic. Nowadays, the city that never sleeps has become a little quieter

One response to “Exploring the New York City Backdrops of Sex and the City

  1. Tues 12 Sept ’23:

    In your very last paragraph of the section about St. Marks, above, you’ll surely want to correct the big typographic flub that turns up in Lexi’s surname….

    What a garble is wrought by misplacing just the one single letter!

    Thanks, and do keep up your fine work.

    Cindy Cisler

    Upper West Side

    This note is just a heads-up for those AT the GVSHP, so of course I don’t intend it to be, or stay, posted beyond serving that purpose.

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