Dispatches: The Royal Tenenbaums Tour
A few weeks back a couple of friends and I got into typical film conversation/debate, showing off how well we could memorize IMDB stats. This debate would eventually turn into a seemingly inevitable Wes Anderson trivia challenge. Fortunately, this behavior veered away from constant, sometimes annoying, quoting (myself included) into something productive, and our attention veered towards The Royal Tenenbaums.
Focusing our obsession on the Royal Tenenbaums for obvious reasons, we decided it would be good idea to visit all or most of the sites around New York where they shot the film. We haphazardly began putting together a plan of attack, which consisted of a ride on the 6 train from start to finish, meandering around mid-town and the upper east side, and an hour plus bus ride through the Bronx and Harlem.
We started downtown, the southern tip of battery park to be exact; where Pagoda tells Royal about Henry Sherman’s proposal to Etheline.
Our next stop: the Alexander Hamilton Customs House, located at 1 Bowling Green, used as “The Public Archives”. Side note: Aside from the Tenenbaums significance, this building is pretty intense in its own right and worth checking out.
“She and her brother Richie ran away from home one winter, and camped out in the African wing of the Public Archives. They shared a sleeping bag and survived on crackers and root beer”
The “Public Archives” today.
After leaving the Customs House we jumped on the 6 train uptown at Bowling Green (the very first stop) and rode it all the way to the end (Pellham Bay Park). From there, it was a short bus ride onto City Island, a small island north of the Bronx, which was the location used for the “Eagle’s Island” summer home. Similar to the Customs House, City Island is super legit in its own right. Only a 1/2 mile by 1 mile, this small nautical community maintains its isolation from the rest of the city, and is covered with all things sea worthy. The property used for the “Eagle’s Island” summer house is a landmark Queen Anne home, and was deemed the “nicest house on the island” by the next door resident.
“Hold is Chassie, hold it right there!!!” “What are you doing, you’re on my team???” “There are no teams!!”
A whale weather vane now stands where the Tenenbaum ‘T’ flag once stood.
Leaving City Island and making our way across town, we finally made it to the mainstay of the movie, the family house. This site is actually located in Harlem at 144th St. & Convent Ave., and lived up to every one of my expectations, I only wish we hadn’t run out of day light…
Not too far north of the family house is the cemetery used in the film – Trinity Cemetery, located at 155th & Broadway.
“Anybody interested in grabbing a couple of burgers and hittin’ the cemetery?”
“Died Tragically Rescuing His Family From The Wreckage Of A Destroyed Sinking Battleship”
The Waldorf Astoria, used as Royal’s apartment in the “Lindbergh Palace Hotel”.