The Plant in the Metro
This is the real plant in the metro. It's not on the line 7bis but on the line 13 between metro station Liège and Saint Lazare. It's the only plant I know that grows in the metro where there's no natural light. From time to time they cut it back and it is extraordinarily difficult to photograph. This is the best I could manage.
rue de la Cloche
'Cloche' is the French word for Bell and rue de la Cloche takes its name from a bell-shaped cavity situated underground beneath the houses here. The cavity was created by erosion due an underground stream desolving the stone over millenia. A few years ago the 'Cloche' had become so big that the houses were no longer stable and had to be demolished. There is now a small park. There's a sign and path showing were the tiny street used to be.
The Late-Night Smoking Place
The Late-Night Smoking Place is a cobbled circle half way along a cul de sac at the top of rue Menilmontant. There are two concrete bollards one a little lower than the other for sitting on. Walking home late one night I couldn't resist going to explore the tiny street and found two people sitting smokng and I thought, "'That'll be perfect for my book."
Café with 'Our Waiter'
The café with 'Our Waiter' could be any number of cafés around Belleville or Menilmontant. This one is called the Lou Pascalou, where particularly around the time that I was working on Three Lives, I spent a fair bit of time drinking and talking nonsense.
It's a great place and has plenty of interesting music and events including a short film night (during winter months when it's dark enough for the projector).
The Umbrella shop
There is in fact no umbrella shop in Passage Panoramas, as suggested int he book. That, sadly was transported from another location for the sake of making the story work.
The shop I was thinking of is called Pep's and is situated in the Passage de l'Ancre in Paris 3rd Arrondissement.
Tomomi Ishikawa's Apartment
I imagined Tomomi Ishikawa's apartment to be on Place Maurice Chevalier in the 20th Arrondissement of Paris, perhaps on one of the higher floors with a view over the square and facing the church, although in this photograph the trees are covered in leaves and I expect you wouldn't be able to see the church at all.
PLACES IN AMERICA (places in Paris are higher up this page)
Garden at 6th Street and Avenue B
All East Village people will know this garden. I passed by in 2007 when I originally went to New York to research the book and was surprised and amazed by the big wooden tower sculpture kind of thing, I think it's no longer there. At the time I had no idea I was going to have a community garden theme and so didn't pay much attention to details so my apologies to anybody who feels betrayed by my lack of accuracy. They layout I wrote about was almost entirely imaginary.
New York Public Library
The NYPL is a three-storey neo gothic construction on 5th Avenue. It's possibly the lowest building in that part of town but by no means diminuative. With pillars, front steps and stone lions it looks every bit the mighty seat of knowledge that it is.
When I was in New York for the launch of the book in June 2013 I went to places in the book and made these little videos for your entertainment pleasure.
The Rose Room
The Rose Room is a reading room on the top floor of the New York Public Library. The video kind of explains it but basically when I wrote the book I knew that it existed and I looked at photos and plans of it, so had a very clear vision of what it was like and where the characters where. But only when I went to New York for the publication of the book did I see it for the first time. It was a kind of special moment.
Beatrice lives at 15 Charles Street. I've no idea what floor or what kind of view she has but the green awning at the front is real - I saw it on Google Maps!
Before I went there in June 2013 I had no idea how fancy it was.
In the book Ben stumbles on a café on St Mark's Place where he has breafast. Later in the day Beatrice takes him to the same place to drink wine.
The café is real and called Café Mogador and last time I went they had some great breakfast choices. I've also been there in the evening to eat and drink wine but to be honest my memory of that evening is a little hazy (albeit pleasant).
Bryant Park is just behind the New York Public Library between 40th and 42dn Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues.
It's formal in a French kind of way with straight alleys of trees, manicured lawns, a carousselle, a fountain and tin tables and chairs. I don't know how intentional the french connection is (it reminds me of the Jardin de Luxembourg or the Tuileries) but like several French gardens it is the home to a few bits of art and touring exhibitions and events.
One of the statues on the terrace is of Gertrude Stein who was an expat American famous for hosting regualar Saturday evening salons on the left bank apartment she shared with her long-term partner Alice B Toklas. She wrote a book called 'Three Lives' which I have as yet not read but I like the title.
Café on the Corner of West 4th Street and West 11th Street
There is a café onthe corner of West 4th Street and West 11th Street. This of course shouldn't be able to exist because in New York's easy-to-use grid system streets should all run parallel and only intersect with avenues and not each other. But the West Village breaks a few rules, and why not?
The café is called 'Tartine' which is the French word for an open-topped sandwich (often topped with jam and eaten for breakfast or equally with ham then cheese and toasted for lunch).
The Chelsea Hotel
The Chelsea Hotel is in Manhattan on West 23rd Street. It's famous for the pantheon of artists, musicians and film stars who have lived (and in some cases died) there. The walls are covered in paintings by residents who apparently gave their wears in lieu of unpaid rent.
In 2011 the hotal was sold and is in the process of being renovated. Many of its long term residents have left and the word on the street is that the golden age of being a magnet for artists and a world centre for some of the most amazing creativity is over.
The house where Tomomi Ishikawa's Father lived in the Mojave desert was based on a couple of pieces of 'Desert Modernism' archetecture. One a house built by Albert Frey which overlooks Palm Springs and the other is the house in Zabriski Point (1970 by Michelangelo Antonioni). For your viewing entertainment here is the final sceen from that film where the house explodes.
The Delicatessen on Elizabeth Street
As far as I'm aware there is no Deli on Elizabeth Street in the East Village.
I suppose the big confession about this book is thatbecause it was quite difficult to research places in New York from my home in Paris, I made a lot of stuff up. I also spent a lot of time on Google Maps Streetview going round wecking places I'd put in the book to see if they were how I remmebered them. When writing about a deli that sold the most amazing Yoghurt I almost chose a deli at random from the internet but backed out at the last minute and chose a street convenient for my characters where there was no deli so as to avoid any bother
Jefferson Market Community Garden
This community garden that sits in the shadow of jefferson Market Library was (I think) the site of a women's prison that was the prison from which Holly Golightly is released in Breakfast at Tiffany's. But hey, this is the internet: any facts need to be checked before quoting ;-)
Jefferson Market Library
Jefferson Market Library was once named the fourth most beautiful buiding in the United States of America (I think it was sometime at the end of the 19th Century). I don't know if that fact made it into the final version of the book but it certainly shouldn't be ignored.
Before it was a library it was derelict for a long while and and the clock stood still at twenty past three for a few decades which is why all the clocks in the book say the time is twenty past three. Before being derelict it was a district courthouse and before that a market - hence the name./p>
The Lost Subway Station
The lost station was the original City Hall subway station at the end of the line on the 6 train. It was abandoned because the paltform was too short.
I took a photo of this when I saw it from the window of a subway train in 2007 but the picture is so blurred as to be abstract (not necessarily a bad thing - but not what I was trying to capture). This picture is borrowed from Wikipedia.
McCarthy Square is a real West Village place and trianglar in shape rather than the square that the name suggests. There and some trees and flowers and stuff and a war memorial type thing. As far as I'm aware there is no Katsura tree though and no hidden treasure.
The Book in the Piano
44 1/2 St Mark's Place doesn't exist - I checked. I do know someone that has a piano not too far from there but I'm not telling you where.
Tomomi Ishikawa's School
Tomomi Ishikawa and Beatrice both went to Saint Michael's Academy at 425 West 23rd Street just near Penn Station. The school closed in 2010. I've no idea why, but it certainly wasn't related to any fictional teacher pupil scandle I may have created. I chose the school because it was already closed and I didn't want to tar anybody's name.
According to Google Maps the building now houses the 'Clinton School for Writers and Artists', which is nice. But there is still the word 'Girls' carved in the masonary over the door (like a stoneage strip club). Last I saw there was an empty flower pot just to the left of the door which makes me think that had anybody planted treasure there it would have already been found.
Tompkins Square Park
Tompkins Square Park, as the name suggests, is square in shape and if you look at a map of New York you will notice that it is the most square park in the lower part of Manhattan (or possibly any place in the world!).