Saturday in the Park with Steve

The park in the title of this post is Gramercy. And I’m not actually “in” the park, since it is restricted to residents who have keys. But I am right outside the park. Also, it is not exactly Saturday, but rather Tuesday and Wednesday (but today is Saturday and the play on “Sunday in the Park with George” trope works better). But the point of this post is to say on any given day, at any given time, on almost any given street in New York, one can walk unaware into a parallel reality. New York has become, after Toronto, the filming location of choice – and Gramercy Park, with its 19th century charm, seems to be the favorite for many filmmakers.

I don’t know what film was shooting when I took these photos. But walking onto a set is a wonderfully surprising yet curiously eerie experience. The motionless well dressed mannequin-like extras were perfectly groomed for the fifties. In front of the Victorian-styled National Arts Club building stood a vintage telephone booth (however, on close inspection it contained an anachronistic push button pay phone) where none had been the previous day. Nearby were old street lamps, placed incongruously on the sidewalk. But the piece de resistance, were the 50s era cars, lined up as if in a time-warp – and my fave de favorite, a Good Humor truck, the kind you never saw in Manhattan proper, was just sitting their beckoning me to drive it away (I didn’t).

There is nothing like walking in on a movie set. Seeing the present made past is a joy. Yet witnessing reality turned into fantasy is curiously disheartening. It just proves how easy it is to manipulate truth. What’s more, I think I’d rather see the finished product, if only I knew what film they were making.

2 thoughts on “Saturday in the Park with Steve

  1. Pif

    Great pictures!  The filming is a Talbot’s commercial.
    This is from the Gramercy Park Block Association:

    Film Shoot on Gramercy Park South 
    Many of you have inquired about the film shoot taking place today on Gramercy Park South.
    Identity Media, Inc. is producing a television commercial for the Talbots clothing line. Fashion photographer Sean Ellis is directing.  The shoot is scheduled for today and tomorrow during daylight hours. Tomorrow’s filming will take place closer to Gramercy Park East.
    Emphasizing the enduring style of Talbots clothing, they will film a woman wearing a signature Pepperdine Tweed Suit as she strolls down an urban street. As the Talbots woman moves through space, she will also move through time, beginning with the 50s and into the present day. With each period change there will be subtle shifts in the details of her outfit, but the suit will remain: a tradition transformed, history repeating itself. Props and different film stocks will be used to mark period changes.
    Today, they are using various cars and props from the 50s.  Tomorrow’s film shoot will include props from the 70s and 80s.Those of you who were children of the 50s may want to bring your children to see some props from that era. “