The Frustrating Geographical Inaccuracy of ‘Home Alone 2: Lost In New York’

Every Thanksgiving weekend, I like to watch the 1992 Chris Columbus-John Hughes classic Home Alone 2: Lost in New York to kick off the holiday season. And every year, I end up ranting about how there’s no way Kevin McAllister could run from The Plaza Hotel to his uncle Rob’s house on West 95th Street while the wet bandits nip at his heels.

I recognize that many films set in New York City aren’t filmed there, so to quibble over locational inconsistencies and the distances the characters travel on foot are high-level complaints. But the movie is called Lost in New York. The location is inherently part of it. So I went through the film, shot by shot, and sussed out the problems. There were a lot. Let’s start from the beginning.

kevin-skyline

Kevin lands at LaGuardia and sees the view above. While its direction — facing west towards Manhattan from Queens — is accurate, the airport is nowhere near this close to Midtown.

wt-kevin

How did Kevin get on top of the World Trade Center by himself?!

Pool

The hotel pool where Kevin loses his swim trunks is not The Plaza pool; it’s actually the pool at the Four Seasons in Chicago. (Home Alone 2 was produced and written by John Hughes, who’s known for his Chicago ties.)

duncans-toy-chest

Duncan’s Toy Chest is said to be based on the famous FAO Schwarz toy store, located near The Plaza on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. This is where Duncan’s Toy Chest seems to be situated in the film, based on the fact that Kevin is able to outrun the wet bandits the first time he runs into them, outside the store. But why did Kevin take a limo to Duncan’s in the first place if it’s so close to The Plaza?

the-rookery-chicago

In reality, Duncan’s Toy Chest scenes were shot in Chicago. The exterior is The Rookery building, while the interior shots were filmed at the Uptown Theater.

address-book-home-alone

 

kevins-uncles-house

Kevin’s uncle’s house is located at 51 West 95th St. But it’s actually on the Universal Studios backlot in Los Angeles, on the “Brownstone Street.”

Stairs

When Kevin flees the wet bandits’ kidnapping outside The Plaza, he runs to Bethesda Terrace in Central Park. That’s nearly a mile-long jog. There’s no way out-of-shape Joe Pesci can keep up with young Kevin for that long!

home-alone-kevin-star

After Kevin visits Pigeon Lady’s Carnegie Hall bungalow, he sees a shining star illuminated on a building and heads towards it. That building has a sign that says St. Anne’s Hospital for Children, but it’s actually a part of Columbia’s Teachers College, located on West 120th Street. This is about 75 blocks from Carnegie Hall.

homealone2_48

Kevin again flees Duncan’s Toy Chest, which we’ve already established is located near The Plaza, all the way to his uncle’s house at 51 West 95th St. That’s more than a two-mile run. We see him and the bandits, who are trailing just behind, turn just one corner, W. 95th and Central Park West.

bird-lady-home-alone

 

bird-lady-home-alone

The Pigeon Lady is first spotted at the Gapstow Bridge over The Pond, a five-minute walk from The Plaza near Central Park’s southeast entrance. This is also where Kevin finds The Pigeon Lady in the film’s closing scene. It makes sense that this would be “her spot,” considering she lives at Carnegie Hall, a mere ten-minute walk away.

inscope-arch-home-alone-2

inscope-arch-home-alone
However, when Kevin flees his uncle’s house on the Upper West Side, he enters Central Park at West 96th Street and finds her nearby with her birds at a second location, the Inscope Arch. In actuality, the Inscope Arch is located near the Gapstow Bridge, at East 62nd Street near the Central Park Zoo. Which is to say, this is on the complete opposite side of the park. Inscope Arch is seen again when the Pigeon Lady saves Kevin from the bandits.

home-alone-rock-center
Kevin then runs from Inscope Arch, which is supposed to be on the Upper West Side, to the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, located on East 49th Street in Midtown, 50-some blocks away.