What all the iconic locations in ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’ are like in real life
- I lived in NYC for three years, and during that time, I stopped at many of the spots featured in “Home Alone 2.”
- Many scenes from the 1992 movie look similar to NYC today. Some places, though, have closed or never existed.
- Here’s a look at how the movie holds up to today’s reality.
- There are some spoilers in this post.
For me, the Christmas season means endless holiday movies, and a worldwide favorite is the “Home Alone” franchise.
The series comprises five films created by John Hughes and directed by a slew of famous directors, like Chris Columbus.
Each film has the essential elements a movie needs: the holiday season, great characters, funny bad guys, surprising cameos, and a plot full of twists and turns.
“Home Alone 2: Lost In New York” has become a favorite after I lived in the city where the film was shot for three years.
“Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” is a John Hughes-Chris Columbus collaboration following the first “Home Alone” movie, which took place in the Chicago suburbs.
In “Home Alone 2,” Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, is heading out for the holidays with his family. After a series of mistakes, McCallister ends up on the wrong plane — it’s going to New York City instead of Miami, where the rest of his family is headed.
Once he lands in New York, McCallister explores the city and eventually runs into Harry and Marv, the same bad guys from the first movie, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.
The movie was released in 1992. Nearly 30 years later, many of the scenes look similar to New York City today.
Over the course of my time in New York City, I’ve enjoyed reliving scenes and touring some of the real-life locations from the film.
“Home Alone 2” is filled with plenty of famous — and not so famous — New York destinations.
As I rewatched the classic Christmas movie this year, I wanted to see how the film holds up to today’s reality.
The opening plot in “Home Alone 2” involves Kevin McCallister landing in an unfamiliar airport with impressive views of New York.
After mistaking a man in a tan jacket as his father, McCallister arrives in New York City with the cityscape on full display in the background.
Initially feeling defeated, McCallister quickly realizes that a solo trip to New York City could be a fun adventure.
The views from the real-life airport, LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York, look very different. Let’s just say I haven’t seen views like that from any airport around New York City.
Maybe it’s because I’m always in a frantic rush to get to the airport on time, but the views from LaGuardia windows have yet to impress me.
With the holiday season being the most hectic time for airlines and airports, I’m in no hurry to have a leisurely walk throughout the airport searching for the McCallister bench.
McCallister then catches a taxi and heads into Manhattan on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.
After the shock and worry of what just happened, McCallister decides to make the most of his stay in New York City.
Fortunately, he has his father’s carry-on bag, complete with his dad’s credit card, cash, and a Polaroid camera.
He hails a cab and crosses into Manhattan, where his adventure begins.
The Queensboro Bridge similarly marked the start or end of any adventure for me living in New York, and it looks like not much has changed.
In the movie, McCallister is riding in a now-outdated taxi. The reality is taxis look drastically different today.
But the bridge today looks identical to the 1992 movie.
Once he makes it into Manhattan, McCallister goes on a grand tour. A couple of quick shots feature him geographically spread across the city. The first destination is Radio City Music Hall.
These scenes go by quickly as McCallister visits many neighborhoods and iconic spots sprinkled across the entire island.
While the exterior of the music hall hasn’t changed much from the film, it is missing the hordes of people that usually swarm the destination.
The movie takes place during the holiday season, so I was surprised there weren’t more people in the background of this scene.
Come wintertime, Radio City Music Hall is typically teeming with people.
Viewers also spot McCallister in front of Empire Diner, a classic, all-American establishment.
The short scene features McCallister crossing paths with a Santa on stilts outside of Empire Diner.
Today, the diner has a fresh look with a new mural called, “Mount Rushmore of Art.”
While the diner looks the same, behind it is a colorful mural painted by Eduardo Kobra. The mural features Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
The diner at 210 10th Avenue opened in 1976.
After passing the diner, McCallister heads to Chinatown, where he stops at Quong Yuen Shing & Co. Unfortunately, the store closed in 2003.
Quong Yuen Shing & Co. on Mott Street opened in 1891 in the heart of Chinatown, according to The New York Times.
The store sold everything from salted duck eggs to medicinal herbs. According to “Home Alone 2” directors, it also sold firecrackers, which McCallister stuffs into his backpack as he exits the store.
In the mid-1980s, the store received a new name, 32 Mott Street General Store, and in 2003, it closed in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
While visitors can’t stop at this specific spot, they can explore Chinatown’s history and discover some delicious eats.
Next up, McCallister treks to the bottom of Manhattan and looks through coin-operated binoculars at the Statue of Liberty.
McCallister looks out into the water and spots the Statue of Liberty. Surprisingly, this will be the only time we see this iconic landmark in the two-hour movie.
I have some bad news: the binoculars are no longer there, though The Battery, or Battery Park as it was called when “Home Alone 2” was filmed, is still the best place in Manhattan to spot Lady Liberty.
The Battery, which is a 25-acre public park, is one of my favorite parks in Manhattan.
It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the water and a little bit of greenery.
For the most part, the movie gets it right. And by that, I mean that the Statue of Liberty is far enough to need binoculars for a close-up view.
McCallister manages to make his way to the top of one of the Twin Towers.
The World Trade Center was comprised of seven buildings. McCallister makes his way up 110 stories to view the city from one of the Twin Towers.
While you can’t head to the same observation deck, the One World Observatory offers a similar birds-eye view of the city.
On September 11, 2001, both Twin Towers collapsed in a terrorist attack, thus destroying the observation deck McCallister visits.
The closest thing to McCallister’s view is the One World Observatory.
The $38 experience is 102 stories high versus McCallister’s 110 stories. It’s also enclosed, unlike the Twin Towers’ observation deck.
Next up we spot McCallister at the Fulton Fish Market. He just barely misses some familiar faces we haven’t seen in “Home Alone 2” yet, Harry and Marv.
This is Harry and Marv’s entrance to the movie. The two have escaped from prison and are spotted in the back of a fish delivery truck.
They’ve traveled to New York City to steal money.
The fish market is portrayed as a bustling place in the movie.
Visitors won’t find the Fulton Fish Market at the same location anymore. In 2005, the fish market moved to Hunt’s Point in the Bronx.
The first market is entirely different than the one pictured in “Home Alone 2.”
It’s enclosed and in a new destination, but if you’re interested in purchasing wholesale fish, this is the place to go.
Located in the Bronx, tourists and buyers arrive early — the market opens at 1 a.m. on most days.
While it might look drastically different from the movie, I can guarantee it has the same smell.
After walking through the fish market, McCallister makes his way to Central Park. There he sees The Plaza Hotel and has a run-in with the Pigeon Lady.
The Pigeon Lady will become an essential character later in the movie, but upon their first encounter, she scares McCallister.
McCallister runs away and heads to The Plaza Hotel, AKA “New York’s most exciting hotel experience,” McCallister recites from a commercial he watched in the movie.
While I can’t say if the hotel is NYC’s most exciting from its exterior, I can say I’ve admired it from the same location McCallister did in this scene.
Standing in the southeast corner of Central Park, visitors can get a complete picture of the famous building.
And it hasn’t changed much.
As McCallister flees from the Pigeon Lady, he runs past a statue of Argentine general José de San Martín.
The statue points McCallister in the direction of the hotel.
The statue is still up today and can be spotted in Central Park South.
The general is known for helping Argentina, Chile, and Peru gain independence from the Spanish.
It’s a lesser-known statue, but it looks the same as it did in the movie.
McCallister finally makes it inside, where he even has the guts to stage a fake hotel reservation.
Once McCallister finally makes it to the hotel, he explores the extravagant lobby.
It’s decorated for the holiday season, and pots are filled with poinsettias.
Using a fake voice, he calls to make a reservation for a suite.
While I haven’t personally stayed in The Plaza Hotel, present-day images from the inside depict the same luxury created in the film.
McCallister enjoys the hotel’s pool and orders an ultimate room service experience.
The hotel has updated some of its interior and offerings, but the essence and luxury of the experience are still the same, Insider previously reported.
While McCallister enjoys the hotel’s pool, Marv is ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park.
Here is where the duo gets the idea to rob a toy store.
The ice skating rink hasn’t changed much since the 1990s.
I’ve watched plenty of children — and adults — take a tumble at Wollman Rink over the last few years.
The rink opens to the public on November 15 and is usually packed with people.
Located at 59th Street and 6th Avenue, the rink offers skyline views and costs $23 for adults to skate on the weekends.
McCallister is ready to explore the city again, but this time he hires a limousine to take him to Duncan’s Toy Chest.
McCallister steps foot into a store brimming with stuffed animals, musical instruments, and toys for all ages.
Duncan’s Toy Chest doesn’t exist in real life, but it is based on the actual toy store, FAO Schwarz.
According to Lonely Planet, Duncan’s Toy Chest is based on the toy store, FAO Schwarz.
But the store wasn’t used for filming. Filming for these scenes took place in Chicago. Exterior shots came from Chicago’s historic The Rookery, and the interior scenes were filmed in The Uptown Theater, according to The Sun.
I’ve stopped at FAO Schwarz once or twice, and much of the joy and excitement still fill the store. But many physical elements have changed.
For example, the store temporarily closed in 2015 and moved locations. In 2018, it reopened at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
The nearly 30 years time difference also means that many of the store’s current toys are different from the movie.
McCallister runs into Harry and Marv at the store and quickly darts into Central Park for his getaway.
McCallister wanders through Central Park a few times throughout the film.
It’s where McCallister spots the Plaza Hotel, stows away in a horse-drawn carriage, and befriends the Pigeon Lady.
Central Park pops up in a few places throughout the movie, and I think it looks the same.
Throughout the film, McCallister is spotted across Manhattan’s largest park.
Yes, people feeding pigeons still exist, and so do the horse-drawn carriages.
As with any film shot 30 years ago, things will look slightly different.
But the crowds, and lack thereof, also remain true.
I’ve explored areas of the 840-acre park that are both eerily quiet and swarmed with people. Overall, the film’s depiction of the park is pretty accurate
No movie set in New York would be complete without a stop at Times Square.
McCallister makes his way to Times Square, which has some of the heaviest foot traffic in all of NYC.
The movie depicts Times Square as being relatively spacious and empty, which isn’t the case today.
Times Square is typically pure chaos, with crowds of tourists, business people, and performers filling the streets.
So I was surprised to see it so empty in the movie.
One of the final scenes in the city features McCallister admiring the giant Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza.
McCallister reunites with his mother in the plaza, who flew to New York to search for her son.
In the movie, the plaza is entirely empty.
Rockefeller Plaza wouldn’t be that empty during most holiday seasons, but I felt just as awe-inspired as McCallister did looking up at the giant tree when I visited in 2018.
My first winter in New York, I thought it would be fun to celebrate the holiday season exploring the city’s lights, window displays, and music, but I instantly regretted visiting Rockefeller Plaza.
The plaza was jam-packed with people, and I remember having to push my way through the crowds.
I doubt the plaza will ever be as empty as it is in “Home Alone 2.”
While I’m glad I checked it off my bucket list, I have no desire to go back.
There are plenty of places I cherish from “Home Alone 2,” and I’m happy to report that, minus a few closed stores and crowd-less attractions, the movie’s depiction of New York City still rings true today.
There’s no place like NYC during the holidays and watching “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” is a reminder of the magic the city has each winter.