Here’s How Filmmakers Recreated a Sparkling 1940s NYC in the UK
If there’s one thing that "Florence Foster Jenkins" (starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant) proves, it’s that you can get pretty far by faking it for a bit.
The movie, which follows the titular character around 1940s New York City as she tries to realize her lifelong dream of becoming an accomplished singer, was actually not filmed in New York City at all.
Filmmakers went to Glasgow, Liverpool, and London to recreate the Manhattan vibes of Florence’s time. And although they pull off the recreation convincingly, there are a few small but distinguishable signs that Florence, her common law husband St. Clair Bayfield, and accompanist Cosmé McMoon are in Europe and not New York.
Those who loved the film can go on their own dive into Florence’s world (both real and for the film) to try to spot the differences.
Here are 10 locations on either side of the Atlantic for a "Florence Foster Jenkins"-inspired itinerary.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow
Standing in for the facade of Carnegie Hall, where Florence gave her major performance, is Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The building itself opened in 1901 as the Palace of Fine Arts for the Glasgow International Exhibition. Carnegie Hall opened just a few years earlier (in 1891) and was originally meant as a venue for the Oratorio and Symphony Societies of New York.
Water Street, Liverpool
The street was transformed (with some effects and CGI) to become 1940s midtown New York City. All the scenes which show someone emerging from Florence’s apartment were filmed here.
Lower Castle Street, Liverpool
Lower Castle Street in downtown Liverpool was transformed for the scenes where St. Clair and Cosmé attempt to find a suitable venue for Florence’s vocal recital.
Drury Lane, Liverpool
There’s someone other than the muffin man who lives on Drury Lane now. Filmmakers transformed Liverpool’s famous street into New York City’s Central Park West.
Cunard Building, Liverpool
The Cunard Building stands in for the Hotel Seymour, where Florence kept her own private apartment. The building, which opened in 1917, was used as headquarters for the Cunard Cruise Line until the 1960s. Today it is one of the city’s most iconic historic buildings and is often used for filming.
The Hammersmith Apollo, London
Because filming directly in Carnegie Hall was not possible, filmmakers transformed London’s Hammersmith Apollo. The building was opened in 1932 and originally used as a cinema, but today it has transformed into one of London’s major entertainment venues.
Park Lane Hotel, London
The Art Deco ballroom at the Park Lane Hotel was not only used for elaborate periodically-correct shots in "Florence Foster Jenkins," but scenes from "The Danish Girl" were also filmed there. And, during World War II, the ballroom doubled as one of London’s swankiest bomb shelters.
Carnegie Hall, New York City
Although filming of the movie never actually took place at Carnegie Hall, Florence really did give a concert there on October 25, 1944 at the age of 76. Tickets for the general admission performance sold out weeks in advance, but visitors eager to honor her commitment to music can usually get rush tickets for Carnegie Hall performances on the day of the show.
Hotel Seymour, New York City
Florence kept a suite at the Hotel Seymour outside of the apartment she shared with St. Clair. It was at her suite where Florence invited journalists for interviews and hosted lively recitals with many of the city’s famous musicians. The hotel has since been demolished and replaced with the Sofitel on 44th Street.
Central Park West, New York City
Although what appears to be Central Park West in the film is actually in Liverpool, the real Florence would have undoubtedly walked down the famous street. In the film, she drags St. Clair to Melotone Recording Studio at 25 Central Park West to record her singing.