When Harry Met Sally... | 1989
It seems inevitable that Harry and Sally are finally going to get it together, what with It Had To Be You playing over the credits, but that’s not how it was in the original script. Anyhow, it’s the journey that’s fun in this hugely successful romcom.
The pair (Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan) are introduced by a mutual friend in the Main Quad of the University of Chicago, to share an 18-hour drive to New York, setting off through the strikingly Gothic Cobb Gate on East 57th Street, between South Ellis and South University Avenues.
The geography is predictably wonky. Although the University is south of the city, they’re next seen driving on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, towards the city from the north.
But that’s nothing. They’re soon cruising along the Harbor Freeway through the industrial containers of Wilmington, south of Los Angeles, stopping to eat at an old diner in the shadow of the Vincent Thomas Bridge.
Despite this detour, they do eventually make it to New York, where Harry is dropped off to carry his luggage, for no obvious reason apart from visual impact, through the Arch in Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village.
Enough with petty the geographical carping. It’s several years and at least one relationship later that Sally informs her friends that she’s broken up with boyfriend Joe as they sit at the Boathouse Restaurant of the Loeb Boathouse, East 72nd Street and Park Drive North in Central Park, where Marie (Carrie Fisher) helpfully consults her ever-ready card index of single men.
Meanwhile, Harry is telling his friend Jess (Bruno Kirby) about the break-up of his marriage – between Mexican waves – at a game in the old Giants Stadium, 50 Route 120, East Rutherford in New Jersey. If you never caught a game here, you’ve missed your chance. The stadium was demolished in 2010.
Harry and Sally run into each other in Shakespeare & Co Booksellers, 2259 Broadway at 81st Street on the West Side (“Someone is staring at you in Personal Growth”), where they admit they’re newly single. This branch of the bookstore has closed, though Shakespeare & Co lives on at 939 Lexington Avenue.
They walk in Central Park (why is it always autumn in Central Park?), and into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue at 82nd Street.
It’s at the Temple of Dendur in the museum’s Sackler Wing, that Harry – or Billy – launches into his “Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash” shtick and Sally – or Meg – cracks up over the pecan pie line. The reconstructed temple (relocated from Egypt in the Sixties when the Aswan Dam was built) and its vast glass window can also be seen in 2002 drama Changing Lanes, with Samuel L Jackson and Ben Affleck.
A location that’s disappeared are the batting cages, where Harry tells Jess how easy he finds it to talk to Sally, but Jess is more impressed that he made a woman miaow. Until 2007, they stood on Stillwell Avenue, between Bowery Street and the Coney Island Boardwalk – another bit of the old funfair up for redevelopment.
Still thriving, of course, is the cafe, where Sally demonstrates how to fake it, in the movie’s most famous scene. Katzs Delicatessen, 205 East Houston Street between Ludlow and Orchard Streets in the East Village, has a sign: ‘You are sitting at the table where Harry met Sally’. Wildly popular (you may have to stand in line for a table) the deli also featured in the excellent Donnie Brasco, with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp) and in Julie Taymor’s Beatles musical Across The Universe.
It’s from Plant Shed, 209 West 96th Street at Broadway on the Upper West Side, that Harry and Sally buy a Christmas tree, carrying it off past the Holy Name of Jesus Church (after their falling out a year later, Sally forlornly drags a tree by herself from the same spot).
The tiled restaurant where Harry and Sally attempt to set each other up with dates is Cafe Luxembourg, 200 West 70th Street near Amsterdam Avenue. The plan goes awry as Marie and Jess go off with each other, leaving Harry and Sally to shop for gifts for the newly happy couple. They sing along to the karaoke machine at the home of the executive toy, The Sharper Image, which stood at 4 West 57th Street until it finally closed its doors in 2008.
The impressive West Side apartment Marie and Jess movie into, and from which the wagon wheel table gets dumped, is 32 West 89th Street, off Central Park West.
Notwithstanding their disagreement over the wagon wheel, Marie and Jess get hitched in the Grand Ballroom of the Puck Building, 295 Lafayette Street, in SoHo, while Harry and Sally fall spectacularly out after their night together.
It’s back to the Puck Building for the New Year party, where Harry finally declares his love, though this time in the Skylight Ballroom.
And you romantics will be happy to know that if you want to celebrate in true Harry and Sally style, you can hire either of these spaces.
If you’re a New Yorker, you’ll probably be puzzled by the entrance into which Harry runs, which looks nothing like the exterior of the Puck.
For whatever reason, this is the entrance to the familiar old Park Plaza Hotel, 607 South Park View Street, overlooking Macarthur Park – in downtown Los Angeles. You may recognise its monumental frontage from The Bodyguard and Not Another Teen Movie.