Monday, December 8, 2014

Geo-Sleuthing Empire State of Mind

I have this theory that every block in New York City has  appeared in a movie, tv show or music video.  As The Naked City chimes, "There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them."

Having mapped stories on every street in Manhattan,  it seemed fitting to map where Jay-Z and Alicia Keys sang in Empire State of Mind (2009).

Jay-Z even pays homage to The Naked City, "Eight million stories out there and they're naked."

Geo-sleuthing is like a crossword puzzle. Once you figure out  the rest of the locations, the last and hardest ones become easier to identify. This was the hardest spot which I saved for last.

Riverside and 145th St 
 "I use to cop in Harlem...Now I live on Billboards." 

Always start off with the easier locations to build momentum. Lots of ads can only mean this is Times Square where billboards are easy to locate:

Stella  Artois (by Roxy Deli, 1565 Broadway at 47th St)
& Hershey's (Broadway and 48th St, NW corner)  
"These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you." 

TKTS (Broadway and 47th ST, Times Square)
"One hand in the air for the big city. Street lights, big dreams all looking pretty"  

If you don't recognize a close up, there are usually other photos showing background to figure out an address. Sometimes the address will even be spelled out: 

145th Street Station (Broadway & 145th St) 
"Welcome to the melting pot, corners where we selling rock"

Sometimes clues are in the song lyrics. "560" was  on the window (faded here but more visible in video).

560 State St (Brooklyn)  
"Took it to my stash spot, 560 State Street."

Landmarks are often beacons for geo-tagging.

"I'm from the Empire"

Every old building will usually have a name to get an address: 
B Fischer & Co (Greenwich and Franklin)
 aka Tribeca Grill (375 Greenwich) owned by Robert De Niro
"now I'm in TriBeCa, right next to De Niro"

You can search a piece of art in Google Images. Typing  "Cube in New York City," you will see 2 cubes with a red cube by Isamu Noguchi matching.

140 Broadway 
"There's nothing you can't do"

Now things start getting harder....but in this next spot, Jay-Z is wearing the same hat so chances are he is nearby. Using Google Streetview,  you will see this building below is across the street from the cube.

Broadway and Liberty (One Liberty Plaza)
"Catch me at the X"

Here is another spot where he is wearing the same hat and you can see a church. Trinity Church is nearby. That helps identify this spot: 

115 Broadway (US Realty Building) 
and 111 Broadway (Trinity Building)
"they act like they forgot how to act"

Matching clothes seemed to work for this hood above.  So I thought I'd try my luck with this photo below. He wasn't wearing a hat at 560 State Street. So using Google Streetview I found this building across the street. 

Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower (1 Hanson Pl)
"Yeah, Imma up at Brooklyn"

Using the same method, but a little more work with Google Streetview circling the block, i found this corner a block east from where he stood with this same hat at TriBeCa Grill (Greenwich and Franklin). 

Hudson and Franklin. 
Robert De Niro actually lived at 110 Hudson (l). 
Jay-Z has lived up the street at 195 Hudson. 
"now I'm down in TriBeCa Right next to De Niro, but I'll be hood forever"

The last photo required the most work on Google Streetview, but I figured he had to be in Harlem, given Jay-Z wore the same outfit at 145th St Station. I traveled many blocks all along 145th Street to find this building.  That's after going other directions as well. But hey, it was the last spot.  It was clear the building was on a corner (which helped). 

Riverside & 145th Street, NE Corner
"I used to cop in Harlem, all of my Dominicanos" 

 I actually missed a spot. In this photo, Jay-Z is in an office that faces the Empire State Building. You need to use a bit of geometry to deduce where it is. Some geo-sleuths will also identify sunlight direction. But we will save that for another day. 

Once you've narrowed down which buildings have the right angle, you can search real estate blogs to match the interior which clearly faces the sun (a clue):

I'd first do a quick check on where Jay-Z worked/lived. I recall he had a midtown apartment facing an apartment owned by Beyoncé. Happy geo-sleuthing. 

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