Just look at that! The pan that opens Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend is a gorgeous and fascinating look at Manhattan’s 1945 skyline. It’s quintessential New York and yet… so strange. I recognized the Chrysler Building, but what are all those other beautiful skyscrapers – especially the two tall ones in the middle? They didn’t ring a bell to me – a non-New Yorker who has only visited this city once – at all.
I was curious which skyscrapers we see exactly and especially if they are still among us, so I decided – with the help of Google 3d Maps – to try to identify all of them. To my surprise they are all still there, though unfortunately most are now drowned out by newer, higher buildings. Here are their names:
Here’s a list of the skyscrapers with their architects and years of completion:
155 East 44th Street. Ely Jacques Kahn, 1931
Chrysler Building. William Van Alen, 1930
Chanin Building. Sloan & Robertson, 1929
The Lexington Hotel. Schultze and Weaver, 1929
Empire State Building. Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, 1931
Marriott East Side (closed). Arthur Loomis Harmon, 1924
Helmsley Building. Warren and Wetmore, 1929
The Benjamin. Emery Roth, 1927
Waldorf Astoria. Schultze and Weaver, 1931
General Electric Building. John W. Cross, 1931
444 Madison Building. Kohn, Vitola & Knight, 1931
30 Rockefeller Center. Raymond Hood, 1938
509 Madison Avenue. Robert T. Lyons, 1929
Dumont Building. J.E.R. Carpenter, 1931
The skyline also perfectly bookends The Lost Weekend:
(And just when I finished researching, I remembered I’ve got a copy of James Sanders’ Celluloid Skyline, which mentions half the skyscrapers…)
Want to know more?
The next question would be: what was the exact location this shot was taken from? Head over to NYC in Film – they already answered that question, and found the locations of other shots in The Lost Weekend as well.