Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them | 2016
After being used for all eight of the Harry Potter blockbusters, Leavesden Studios, north of London in Hertfordshire, and home to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, was a natural to host for the first of the spin-off series which sees Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arriving in 1926 ‘New York’ en-route to Arizona to release one of the ‘fantastic beasts’ into its natural habitat.
Clearly modern New York can no longer stand in for the city of the 1920s. The already enormous ‘New York City’ set of Production Designer Stuart Craig, encompassing almost an entire block, complete streetcar rails and even functioning man-hole covers, was extended with digital effects.
The ‘New York docks’ scenes were filmed in the vast Cardington Hangars, Cardington, a couple of miles southeast of Bedford in Bedfordshire, previously used for Christopher Nolan's trilogy Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises but the few practical locations were found in the UK’s northwest city port of Liverpool.
The opening scene in the banking hall uses the interior of the disused ornate old Martins Bank, 4 Water Street, Liverpool, which has been closed for several years though there are on/off plans to convert it into a luxury hotel.
Liverpool's Grade II-listed Cunard Building on George's Pier Head at Water Street, built in 1917, was used as the facade of the imposing headquarters of MACUSA, the Magical Congress of the United States of America, the US equivalent of the Ministry of Magic.
Once home to the Cunard Line, the Anglo-American cruise line which for many years operated passenger ships across the North Atlantic Ocean, it’s the centre of a trio of landmarks at Liverpool’s Pier Head waterfront, including the Royal Liver Building and the Port of Liverpool Building, together known as ‘The Three Graces’.
The Cunard Building’s old ticket hall was transformed into the interior of ‘Macy’s’ department store when Newt, American witch Tina (Katherine Waterston) and ‘No-Maj’ Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) go looking for the Occamy, which has gone missing from Newt’s capacious bag.
The classical pillared exterior of the famous St George's Hall (again, digitally enhanced) can be seen when Frank the Thunderbird flies away to freedom in the West. The interior of St George’s Hall was used to film the political rally.
Although there was no filming at all in the Big Apple, you may want to check out some of the city’s landmarks that inspired the look of the film.
MACUSA’s HQ is supposed to be the Neo-Gothic Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, the tallest building in the world when it opened in 1913. A carved stone owl atop the building’s entrance really is part of Cass Gilbert’s original design, and fitted neatly into the film's world.
The subway station is modelled on the Old City Hall subway station, opened in 1904 and closed to the public in 1945. Although trains no longer stop at Old City Hall station, the track is still used as a turnaround for the 6 Line. If you’re a member of New York Transit Museum, you can explore this New York landmark through guided tours.
For the look of Jacob Kowalski’s home, the production took its inspiration from the Lower East Side’s Tenement Museum, 97 Orchard Street. The five-story tenement building, constructed in 1864, is preserved for walking tours providing some insight into living conditions at the turn of the 20th Century.
The home shared by Tina and Queenie (Alison Sudol) is based on the townhouse at 21 West 26th Street north of Madison Square Park. Built for the Astor family, the 19th-century house famed for its Victorian facade of red brick, polished granite and terracotta is now home to literary agency the Writers House.