You’ve Got Mail Walking Tour

Last night I watched You’ve Got Mail, a.k.a my favourite film and the inspiration for me moving to New York, for the first time since I moved here, and was absolutely thrilled by the fact that I recognised the majority of the places featured in it. Set mainly on the streets of the well to do Upper West Side, it’s a fantastic tribute to the glories of New York throughout the seasons, and it brought such joy to my heart to remember that when I first saw this film, I vowed to myself that one day I too would walk those streets, and here I am, that vow fulfilled.

Today I woke up to a warm and sunny city, and decided it was high time I actually went and did a self guided walking tour of Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox’s New York. Armed with my camera, I set off bright and early, catching the 96th street crosstown bus from 2nd avenue all the way across town, through the park and out the other side, over to West End Avenue, from where it is a short walk to Riverside Park. Riverside Park is a beautiful stretch of greenery, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of Central Park, that runs between 72nd to 158th streets on the West Side of Manhattan. It has spectacular views across the Hudson to New Jersey, and though the Henry Hudson Parkway roars along in between the park and the river, it still feels wonderfully peaceful and oasis-like. I hadn’t been over to this part of Manhattan yet, and I could have kicked myself for being so tardy as soon as I entered the Park; it really is stunning, and the 91st Street Garden, where Kathleen and Joe have their happy ending, is truly lovely. Filled with fragrant, colourful summer flowers, it is surrounded by benches where New Yorkers can enjoy a restful sit down and take in the breathtaking views.

I wandered down through the park until I hit 89th street, where I exited, inadvertently walking through a very enthusiastic play rehearsal (oops), saw an impressive war memorial, and then crossed the street and made my way over to West End Avenue, where Kathleen Kelly’s apartment building was. I found the absolutely gorgeous building and stood outside, imagining myself living in there, with those beautiful bookshelves, that lovely bed, the pretty little kitchen….sigh….then carried on walking, to take in Cafe Lalo, on 83rd between Broadway and Amsterdam, where Kathleen waits for Mr NY152, and bumps into Joe Fox instead. This is such a pretty and romantic looking cafe and I am going to go back for a drink at some point in the very near future.

I then continued downtown, to Zabar’s, the famous deli and grocery store, where Kathleen gets stuck with no cash in the cash only line. I popped in, was overwhelmed by the smell of cheese (I am one of the world’s only people, it seems, who cannot bear the taste of cheese unless it’s melted), wished I was rich like the West Siders filling their baskets with delicious pots of olives, vodka sauces, artisanal breads and pastas, heavenly smoked fishes….and left empty handed. It’s not the go-to grocery store for people on intern wages, that’s for sure, but it’s certainly a quintessential New York experience nonetheless! After Zabar’s I took the time to stroll through Verdi Square, which is actually a triangle, and a place I am in all the time, as it is the entrance to the 72nd and Broadway 1,2,3 subway line where I always get off to go to Trader Joe’s, New York’s only decent, affordable supermarket. Verdi Square was the place where Kathleen and Joe go to the farmer’s market (there isn’t one held there now as far as I know), and where they walk past each other holding their Starbucks coffees on their way to work at the beginning of the film. It’s a pretty spot to sit down, but it is at the junction of Broadway and Amsterdam so don’t expect peace and quiet!

After Verdi Square, I had one more stop left on my tour – Kathleen’s book shop, The Shop Around the Corner. This is on 69th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus (or 6th and 7th avenues, for those of you not familiar with the name changes above 59th street) and is now a pretty little cafe. It used to be a cheese and antique shop, apparently, when filming took place, and they put on a false front to dress it up as the gorgeous children’s book shop we know and love from the film. The Shop Around the Corner was, incidentally, modelled on a real New York children’s book shop, Books of Wonder, which is on W18th street and is lovely – well worth a visit if you’re in the city.

It was so wonderful getting to see the actual locations of You’ve Got Mail and explore a new section of the Upper West Side in the process. It reminded me of how big, diverse and stunning this city really is, and how each neighbourhood has its own feel and its own charm. You’ve Got Mail romanticises New York, and deservedly so – it’s a magical city, and I’m so glad I have had the chance to experience it as my home.

ps. The time has come to announce the winners of May Sarton’s The Magnificent Spinster! Interest was so keen that I can’t bear to turn anyone down – I’ll get you all copies! They may not all arrive immediately, as I shall have to stagger the purchases (I’ll buy them used) – unfortunately I’m not made of money! – but I will get all of you who asked a copy within the next month or so to read and then ‘pay it forward’. Send me your addresses please!

p.p.s. for those of you who visited my shop and found it sold out – I have now added more books so go ahead and check out the new selection!

67 comments

  1. Thank you for a beautiful post. I loved the movie and was quietly cheering for a happy ending (as usual) so I loved your step by step directions .

  2. I enjoyed reading this post! I have never had any desire to visit NYC, always imagining it too busy, crowded, dirty, and dangerous, but when I read your blog, you make it sound so interesting and lovely that a part of me yearns to see it myself. As for The Magnificent Spinster, so many people had already asked for a copy that I thought it would be useless to do so and decided to try to find a copy somewhere online. I am intrigued by your review, because it sounds like a truly wonderful book and the character seems to possess many virtues, and yet the idea of spinsterhood goes so deeply against my personal beliefs in marriage and children. I look forward to reading it someday when I get my hands on a copy.

    1. Tren, there is that side of New York, but there are less than lovely sides to every city, in my experience. New York has so much to delight and enchant that you really must come and see it for yourself! I hope you manage to find a copy of The Magnificent Spinster and enjoy it as much as I did! Thanks for reading!

  3. As much as I love “You’ve Got Mail”, which I will watch each time it is on as if it were the first time I’ve seen it, I will forever love your walking tour and know I will come back to read this again. How fun to hear of your visits to the charming spots of the movie and to see your photos here.

    I love your spirit of adventure, Rachel, and how you capture the sense of place, whether in your own wanderings, or in the books you read. I’m smiling.

    1. Oh thank you, Penny, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It was such a beautiful walk and I loved every minute of it. Thank you so much- you are so lovely! I try my best!๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I’ve never seen You’ve Got Mail… I know, I know. I love Sleepless in Seattle though and An Affair to Remember. I think that one day when I do finally visit NewYork that I’ll do an unofficial (or possibly official) tour of Sex and the City locations!

    1. Oh, Claire! The ultimate bibliophile’s film and you haven’t seen it?! Tonight is the night!! Oh yes you can do an official Sex and the City tour – my friends have done it. You get cocktails!

  5. While my own blog has been on hiatus I have been reading blogs and have enjoyed your stay in New York. You really have made me want to watch You’ve Got Mail again. I do find it hard watching Meg Ryan movies because I loved Harry Met Sally so much I find I compare all her other movies to that one. Maybe you could do a Harry Met Sally photographic New York tour too! I have said to my husband I will be spending 6 months in New York and 6 months in London some day – it will happen through sheer force of will alone๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks Samantha! I’ve missed you! Do you know – I have never seen When Harry Met Sally all the way through! But I have been to Katz’s deli to see the site of the famous scene!! You tell him! And make it happen! Everyone should live in both those cities for at least a little while in their lifetimes.๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I LOVE “You’ve Got Mail”! And I’m so pleased all the places you visited are as pretty in real life as they are in the movie – watching “You’ve Got Mail”, I always feel New York must be one of the loveliest cities to live in, but then I have doubts… I wonder if the Walking Tour of a Favourite Movie could be done for other cities – it could be fun to do a sort of literary/cinematographic tour of the world. I could do Paris๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Glad to hear of another fan! I can’t get enough of You’ve Got Mail! New York is lovely, but it’s not as lovely as London if you ask me.๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t ever been to Paris so I’d love to see a beautiful walking tour – off you go and do it for me please!๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Oh, thank you for this! This was one of those things we didn’t get to do last year when we were in NYC – my kids. having never seen the movie couldn’t care less, and it was 50 degrees and raining.๐Ÿ™‚ What wonderful memories you are compiling!

  8. A movie so full of cosy nooks that it could convince even ME to up sticks and move to New York! It was fun to see the locations as they are now, Rachel, and I think the timing for your tour was perfect…the garden looks so pretty. And definitely less spooky than the ‘ghost walks’ I like to take at night in London!

    1. Well Darlene, you must love that movie to feel so strongly! Yes I wanted to wait until the summer to get everything in its best light…You’ve Got Mail conveniently ignores how awful everything looks when it’s FREEZING! Ooooh ghost tours…not my cup of tea! I need cosy and sunny!

  9. I’m going to have to pull ‘You’ve Got Mail’ off the DVD shelves and watch it once again! What a great jaunt! Thank you so much for sharing your photos and for all your descriptive details!

    One scene, in particular, that I remember is when she’s ill in bed with a streaming cold. She made even that look OK, in her gorgeous apartment!๐Ÿ™‚ And, oh, yes, it HAD to have a happy ending!๐Ÿ˜€

    Have you seen the two previous films based on the same/similar story? ‘The Shop Around the Corner’ and ‘In the Good Old Summertime’?

    1. You are welcome Penny! Go and watch it right now!

      I know, she looks lovely in You’ve Got Mail…shame that she couldn’t stay that way. That apartment is the star though…I dream of such a place to call my own!

      No! I shall have to check those out, thank you!

  10. What a great idea? Perhaps this is obvious to others, but how did you know where these scenes were filmed? I mean, if I did a “Love Actually” tour of London, I wouldn’t have a clue.๐Ÿ˜›

    Also, I have to say, I love your travel writing, Rachel. You have a gift. I can see you doing travel books of awesome places all over the globe…think about it! Maybe this is your true career path.

    1. Thanks Mumsy! I just looked it up online – I took advantage of other people’s detective work as well as my own knowledge of New York – it was perfectly easy! A Love Actually tour would be easy for me – I’ll take you on one!

      Oh thank you – how lovely you are! I don’t have as high an opinion of my skills as you do but I will certainly think about it, thank you!๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I don’t know if I am included in one of the recipients of The Magnificent Spinsters, I did ask though following your review. Just in case I am lucky enough to be on your list my address is Nora McGuire
    The Lake House
    Lough Talt
    Tubbercurry
    Co. Sligo
    Ireland.

    Loved your walk through ‘you’ve got mail’. I have not been to NY yet and hope to some day. It felt like I was there with you and it brought back all the memories of that wonderful movie. How do I access your book shop?

    1. Yes you are Nora! I’ll get one sent out. Oh I’m so glad! I hope you will make it over here one day soon – it’s such a magnificent city!

      You can get to my book shop via the link on the right – just click on the picture of the book shop!

  12. Rachel –

    This is Liz from Texas. Don’t worry about sending me a Sarton book (altho’ the thought is much appreciated). It is too much for an intern’s salary, and I expect i can get it from the library.

    Thanks a ton for the offer though. It was very generous of you.

    1. Really Liz? Because I honestly would be delighted to send you a copy. If you change your mind, or can’t get hold of it from the library, please email me!

  13. What a fun day! Each time I go to New York, I try to explore a different part of the city. Haven’t made it north of Lincoln Center on the West side yet!

    You’ve Got Mail trivia: the cashier at Zabar’s is Sara Ramirez, Tony winning actress for Spamalot & now on Grey’s Anatomy.

    1. Oh Katherine, you must go North! The Upper West Side is so beautiful and Riverside Park is the jewel in the crown!

      Oh really? I never knew that! Here’s me thinking she was just another extra! Thanks for that tidbit!

  14. What a clever way to spend a beautiful day, following the scenes of a favorite movie! I’m so glad you have found so many ways to enjoy New York.

  15. It’s great to “walk” a film. We did much the same in Venice, walking the film version of “Don’t Look Now” (still one of my favourites). Fortunately we didn’t spot any red duffle coats!

    1. Oooh what an interesting one to walk! I’ve never seen the film but I’ve read the book so I can imagine it must have been very atmospheric. I haven’t even set foot in Italy in my lifetime so I am very jealous!

  16. ‘dreams are nothing more than wishes and wish is just a dream’

    so THAT’S why I like your blog so much…my sister and I used to watch ‘You’ve got mail’ on a weekly basis! I still love it, and have had a chance to see some of the spots from the movie, but not all the ones you’ve seen! Her apartment building…amazing! Oh what I would give to live in that apartment.

    Loved this post!

    1. That magical line! That and the now defunct sound of dial up internet bring joy to my heart every time that sweeping view of New York drawn line by line appears on my TV screen!

      Ha! Anyone who loves You’ve Got Mail is an instant kindred spirit of mine. I LOVE it and used to watch it all the time but I forgot to bring my DVD with me and I can’t switch over to US on my laptop or I’ll forever be stuck on US region 2 which is no good for the rest of my DVDs!

      If I could live in Kathleen Kelly’s apartment, I would never complain about anything ever again. Fact.

  17. I love this post! You’ve Got Mail is one of my go-to “cheer up” movies๐Ÿ™‚ I have yet to visit NYC but this makes me want to even more!

    1. Thanks Amanda, and it’s lovely to ‘meet’ you! Glad you’re another You’ve Got Mail fan – we can definitely be friends๐Ÿ™‚

      You have to come to NYC! It’s a city everyone should see once in their lifetime!

  18. I loved reading all these replies to your delightful tour! Actually I didn’t know there was such a following for You’ve Got Mail. I watch it often, and it was so good to read about others’ feelings that are mine too. Yes!

  19. You’ve Got Mail has been my favorite movie for years now, so this post is right up my alley. I can’t say I didn’t squeal a little when I saw all those pictures and associated them with the different parts of the film.

  20. I very much enjoyed your tour. My wife and I did the same for Steel Magnolias in that quaint town. One question – where were the boats?
    I need to visit that park and make a photo of the misses & me with me saying –
    “Don’t cry, Shopgirl.”

    1. Thanks Robert – I would love to see the Steel Magnolias locations, you lucky thing! The boats are further up town, at the boat basin off FDR drive – I have seen them but I didn’t fancy trekking all that way up! You should go and take that photo – it’s a gorgeous place!
      Not sure about the restaurant – I couldn’t find that location online. It might be!!

    2. We just returned from a week in The City and visited Riverside and the garden. We had coffee at the Starbucks and strolled thru Verdi. Cafรฉ Lalo was an experience not to be missed – so we went twice! Thanks for all the help with the locations.

  21. Hey – is the restaurant on the corner of Broadway and 96th where Kathleen and Frank broke up?
    That would be ironic…

  22. Whoops – I meant the Westside Restaurant on the northeast corner of Broadway and 69th!
    Nanny Maureen is probably having lunch there!

  23. Love this article!! I just came back from NY but since I’m going back next month I will do this. Thank you for sharing this, it was lovely!

  24. Hi! I love your post. Iยดm visiting NYC in less than a month and I wanted to do the You’ve got Mail walking tour too! Thanks for all the info! It’s really helpful.

  25. My favorite movie as well! I’ve wanted to go to New York ever since seeing this movie. I finally made it a few months ago but my travel partners were not interested in exploring Kathleen’s world. I’m watching the movie now and decided to google the locations. That’s how I found this lovely blog. ..and I also cannot bear the taste of cheese.

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