The Jon Favreau directed Elf may have come out seven years ago but that in no way has diminished its popularity, in fact, just the opposite. The movie is so popular, it is now counted amongst the great Holiday classics, played as regularly on tv during the season as It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story.
Elf was filmed on location in New York City at many places that embody the holiday spirit in Manhattan and a few quirky sites as well…
The Empire State Building (350 5th Avenue and West 34th Street) is where Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) is sent by his adoptive father Papa Elf to find his real dad. He tells Buddy that this is where is father works and before heading off to New York, gives Buddy a snow globe with a figure of the building. How does Papa Elf know? The naughty and nice list of course.
After Buddy is thrown out of the Empire State Building, he is told by security to go back to Gimbels. This one time real department store was an iconic symbol of New York from 1887 to 1987, when it closed its doors. It was once the largest department store chain in the US and is the originator of the New York Thanksgiving Day Parade. Gimbels obtained worldwide publicity when it was used as the setting for the film, Miracle on 34th St.
For the location of Gimbels in Elf, the Textile Building on the corner of 5th Avenue and 30th St. was used and cgi was implemented to install the decorative top of the building as well as the huge nutcracker of the corner.
Once at Gimbels, Buddy is mistaken for one of the elves who work in the Christmas display but after waking up in the store and discovering an impostor Santa Clause, Buddy is arrested and his real father, Walter, must come bail him out. Walter soon discovers that Buddy is his true son and brings him home to his apartment on the Upper West Side. Fans of the film Ghostbusters will recognize where Walter lives, it is the same building that the showdown with the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man takes place.
At Walter’s apartment, Buddy meets his wife and son, whom he befriends and helps defend during a snowball fight in Central Park.
Walter’s apartment is across the street from Central Park and plays an important role in the film not only for snowball fights but because it is here that Santa crashes his sleigh at Bethesda Terrace, mid-park at 72nd Street) and where Buddy’s new family comes to the rescue along with hundreds of New Yorkers.
And last but not least is Buddy’s first date with Jovie, a co-worker elf at Gimbels. Jovie takes Buddy to see the tree at Rockefeller Center and they go ice skating at the rink in the center of the square.