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Sunday April 21st 2024

Miracle On 34th Street | 1947

The traditional seasonal heartwarmer, with Edmund Gwenn maintaining he’s Kris Kringle, the real Santa Claus.

The film opens with Mr Kringle ambling along New York’s East 61st Street from Madison Avenue to Central Park, on the East Side. It’s at 19 East 61st Street that he helpfully points out to the window-dresser the reindeer have been mixed up.

If you live outside the USA, you’ve probably never heard the name Kris Kringle. It’s a corruption of the German ‘Christkindl’, which actually refers to the Christ Child, but having been transplanted from its European roots, gradually seems to have become confused with the chubby old guy in the red suit.

Mr Kringle finds the drunken fake Santa on a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on West 77th Street, outside the American Museum of Natural History. Taking his place, he heads the parade (which is the real one of 1946) south from 77th Street along Central Park West, a stretch of the road which has changed surprisingly little in the intervening years.

The Macy's parade has been held every year since 1924 (apart from a couple of years during WWII). The trademark giant balloons were introduced in 1927, with Felix The Cat.

Originally a six-mile parade from 145th Street in Harlem to the store at Herald Square, its starting point was soon moved south to 110th Street. In the last few years, the route has occasionally been modified, so check ahead if you want to join the festivities.

The store itself is of course Macy's Herald Square, still going strong on 34th Street (hence the title) at 7th Avenue. You can still see the store name running down this corner, and the two canopied deco entrances on the north side of 34th Street. Amazingly, interiors were also filmed inside the store, which is also featured in Woody Allen’s Radio Days.

Macy's rival store in the movie, Gimbels, which stood at 33rd Street and 6th Avenue, closed in 1986.

Kringle’s sanity is put on trial at New York County Courthouse, 60 Centre Street in the Civic Centre district. No prizes for guessing the outcome. The courthouse is naturally a screen regular – famously the location for Twelve Angry Men and the gunning down of Barzini on its steps in The Godfather.

Susan Walker (Natalie Wood) finally finds the ‘dream home’ she longs for at 24 Derby Road, at the northwest corner of Essex Court, Port Washington, in Nassau County, on the north shore of Long Island. It seems to have changes little apart from the addition of an upstairs room.

Now I don’t want to be a Grinch, but doesn’t the idea of somebody who lives in a rather nice apartment on Central Park West spending an entire movie whining about wanting a new home for Christmas, seem just a tad ungrateful? No? That’s just me then.

• Many thanks to David Crocker for help with this section.