Follow Your Favorite Literary Characters Through New York City
Our favorite fictional New Yorkers and where in the city you might find them.
No matter which neighborhoods you frequent, you’re sure to be crossing paths with some of the most notable characters in New York City novels. Here are some of our favorite fictional New Yorkers and where you might find them.
UPPER EAST SIDE
The Goldfinch follows Theo Decker’s story that begins with his tragic trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with his mother to see Carel Fabritus’s painting The Goldfinch. The painting was on exhibition at The Frick last year.
Sylvia Plath’s acclaimed novel The Bell Jar follows Esther Greenwood as she navigates through New York City as a young woman. The hotel where Esther stays, The Amazon, is presumed to be based on the Barbizon Hotel on Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street. The magazine office where Esther works is based on the Mademoiselle offices at 575 Madison Avenue.
THE PLAZA HOTEL
One of the most memorable literary arguments happens at New York’s most iconic hotel. The riff between Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby takes place in The Plaza Hotel. The Plaza now features a Fitzgerald Suite for guests looking to step into Gatsby’s glamorous world.
Another Plaza Hotel regular is mischievous, yet adorable Eloise along with her pug, Weenie. The Plaza features an Eloise Shop where children and their parents can have tea, dress up, and join in the adventures.
The Catcher in the Rye‘s Holden Caulfield treks all over New York after leaving Pencey Preparatory. Holden skates at Rockefeller Center, sees the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall, wanders the Museum of Natural History, and spends time in Central Park wondering where the ducks go in the winter. Follow Holden’s tour of New York here.
Stuart Little, New York’s favorite mouse, sailed his pint-sized boat to victory at Kerbs Boathouse in Central Park. Model sailboat races are still held at Kerbs Boathouse, though it is unlikely to see mice sailing these days. Based on the illustrations in E.B. White’s charming tales of Stuart Little, it is suspected that the Little’s apartment was located in Gramercy Park.
Dining at the historic Delmonico’s, treating patients at Bellevue Hospital, or conducting business at the Mulberry Street Police Headquarters, the sleuthing characters in The Alienist are very familiar with the high life and the low life of lower Manhattan. Find more of their favorite spots here.
Let the Great World Spin brings together characters from all over Manhattan, from grieving mothers in a Park Avenue apartment to an Irish priest in the Bronx, as they watch Philippe Petit tightrope walk across the Twin Towers.
Tom Wolfe’s dramatic story of politics, social class, and greed, The Bonfire of the Vanities, captures the essence of 1980’s New York and the resurgence of Wall Street. Sherman McCoy spends his days as a bond trader on Wall Street until an accident in the Bronx turns his life upside down.
National Book Award winner Sophie’s Choice brings readers to Flatbush, Brooklyn in the wake of World War II. The house where Stingo took up residence overlooks Prospect Park on the corner of Parade Grounds. The film adaptation of Sophie’s Choice used the house at 101 Rugby Road as the “Pink Palace.”
The Nolan family in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn begins their lives in a home on Bogart Street in Bushwick. The Nolans later move to Lorimer Street and Grand Street in Williamsburg. Author Betty Smith grew up in Brooklyn just like her beloved characters.
American Psycho protagonist Patrick Bateman frequents the landmark River Cafe near the Brooklyn Bridge. The River Cafe is still operating today, though hopefully without any serial killers frequenting the restaurant. Find out Patrick Bateman’s other favorite spots here.
Last Exit to Brooklyn became popular for it’s intimate look at lower class Brooklyn during the 1950s. Hubert Selby’s novel explores a seedy waterfront neighborhood, what is now considered a part of Sunset Park, though often confused for Red Hook.