Where in New York is Sesame Street?
Can I tell you how to get to Sesame Street? Well, I can try. You can get to the Sesame Street Subway Stop by the A, B, 1, or 2 trains, which if you check any MTA map, do not intersect at any current station.
A typical NYC neighborhood has a subway stop, a deli, a laundromat, a daycare, street vendors, a park, and a diverse population. Sesame Street has all of those things and shows on a regular basis how important street life, diversity, and neighborhoods actually are to the people who live in them. One reason that Sesame Street has worked so well on television for so long is that it depicts what works so well about living in a New York neighborhood. Sesame Street is nothing if not a paragon of New York at its best. Even Gothamist has covered Sesame Street neighborhood news.
Sesame Street Characters sing about the subway.
Many have gone to great lengths to pinpoint what neighborhood Sesame Street is exactly, using stage directions, lyrics from songs, and various scenes from the show.
There are are clues in songs, such as instructions to take the 123 Bus, or visual clues such as characters getting off at the 86th Street stop on the subway during a Christmas episode.
Rumored neighborhoods (an incomplete list):
This rumor is mostly supported by the fact that Sesame Street is filmed in Astoria at Kaufman Astoria Studios. But Queens is a likely contender because of its reputation as the most diverse county in the nation. Astoria is known as a working class neighborhood with a variety of ethnic heritages. It also has a musical heritage as the home of the Steinway Piano Factory. However, Astoria is served by the N, Q, E, M, and R trains.
Find out more about Astoria:
- Villages & Sections - Astoria : clippings.
- The Neighborhoods of Queens by Claudia Gryvatz Copquin ; introduction by Kenneth T. Jackson.
- Forgotten Queens by Kevin Walsh and the Greater Astoria Historical Society.
- Greater Astoria Historical Society
- The Archives at the Queens Public Library
Alphabet City, Lower East Side
Creator Joan Ganz Cooney proposed the title “123 Avenue B” which would have placed Sesame Street across from Tompkins Square in Alphabet City, on the Lower East Side. It does seem appropriate for a show that is sponsored by letters and numbers to take place in a neighborhood called Alphabet City. Avenues A, B, C, and D do not have their own subway station, but they are probably best served by the F, J, M, Z and L trains.
Find out more about Alphabet City:
- Alphabet City by Geoffrey Biddle; introduction by Miguel Algarín.
- Villages & Sections - Alphabet City: clippings.
- From Urban Village to East Village: The Battle for New York's Lower East Side by Janet L. Abu-Lughod and others.
- New York Neighborhoods. the Lower East Side: Study Guide created by Rebecca Krucoff for the Education, Programming and Exhibitions Department, Teaching & Learning Division, The New York Public Library.
- Lower East Side Oral Histories / interviews by Nina Howes; edited by Eric Ferrara.
Sesame Workshop is located here. Lincoln Center is largely non-residential, consisting of many performance related buildings such as Avery Fisher Hall, the Juilliard School, the Library for the Performing Arts, and the Metropolitan Opera House. However, before Lincoln Center’s construction as part of Robert Moses’urban renewal plan, this neighborhood was known as San Juan Hill, which designer Charles Rosen stated was part of the amalgam of NYC places on which he based his set design for Sesame Street. During Sesame Street’s 40th anniversary, Mayor Bloomberg temporarily named the corner of 64th and Broadway as Sesame Street. Lincoln Center is served by the 1 train, but nearby you can also catch the 2, 3, A, B, C, D trains—just not all at the same stop.
Find out more about Lincoln Center:
- Lincoln Square Map and Guide / [cartographic material] / design: Michael Hertz Associates.
- The Lincoln Center Story by Alan Rich.
- Lincoln Center Clippings Collections.
- Lincoln Center, the Building of an Institution by Edgar B. Young ; with a foreword by Frank Stanton.
- Manhattan Projects: The Rise and Fall of Urban Renewal in Cold War New York by Samuel Zipp.
- Lincoln Center official website
86th Street - Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights
Much speculation abounded when the Sesame Street gang got off at the 86th Street stop of the subway during the Christmas Eve on Sesame Street special, which originally aired in 1978. However, this is the only appearance of the 86th Street subway in Sesame Street, and to further complicate matters, there are four 86th Street subway stations in NYC. On the Upper West Side, there are two 86th Street stops, one for the 1 train, and one for the B and C trains. The third 86th Street stop is on the Upper East side and serves the 4, 5, and 6 trains. Finally, the fourth 86th Street stop is in Brooklyn. It serves the R train and residents of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.
Find out more about the Upper West Side:
- Upper West Side Story: A History and Guide by Peter Salwen.
- Villages & Sections - Upper West Side : clippings.
- Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District Designation Report prepared by the Research Department.
Find out more about the Upper East Side:
- Touring the Upper East Side: Walks in Five Historic Districts by Andrew S. Dolkart.
- Upper East Side Historic District Designation Report prepared by the Research Dept., Landmarks Preservation Commission; editor, Marjorie Pearson.
- Notable New York. The East Side: A Walking Guide to the Historic Homes of Famous (and infamous) New Yorkers by Stephen W. Plumb.
- Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts website.
Find out more about Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights:
- Bay Ridge etc. by Ted General, Jack La Torre, & Peter Scarpa for the Bay Ridge Historical Society.
- Bay Ridge by Peter Scarpa and Lawrence Stelter for the Bay Ridge Historical Society.
- Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton Neighborhood History Guide by Marcia Reiss for the Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Villages & Sections - Dyker Heights : clippings.
- Brooklyn Historical Society
- Bay Ridge Historical Society
Harlem and the Bronx
The other part of designer Charles Rosen’s amalgam of influences was Harlem and unspecified neighborhoods of the Bronx, as reported in this article from New York magazine. Harlem is served by the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, B, C, and D trains, though the 1, 2, A, and B do not stop at the same station. The Bronx is served by the 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, B, and D trains.
Find out more about Harlem:
- Harlem in the Twentieth Century by Noreen Mallory.
- Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America by Jonathan Gill.
- Harlem: A Century in Images introduction, Thelma Golden; essays, Deborah Willis, Cheryl Finley, Elizabeth Alexander.
- Harlem Historical Society
Find out more about the Bronx:
- The Northern Borough: A History of the Bronx by Lloyd Ultan.
- History in Asphalt: The Origin of Bronx Street and Place Names, The Bronx, New York City by John McNamara.
- The Bronx by Kathleen A. McAuley and Gary Hermalyn.
- Bronx County Historical Society.
The truth is that Sesame Street is the most typical of all New York neighborhoods, meaning that it can be any one of them and should be considered to be all neighborhoods, because you, yes you, belong on Sesame Street too.
More about the history of Sesame Street
- Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis.
- Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones.
- "G" is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street edited by Shalom M. Fisch, Rosemarie T. Truglio.
- Getting to Sesame Street: Origins of the Children's Television Workshop by Richard M. Polsky.
- Sesame Street and the Reform of Children's Television by Robert W. Morrow.
Now through January 31, come visit the NYPL’s exhibit "Somebody Come and Play:" 45 Years of Sesame Street Helping Kids Grow Smarter, Stronger, and Kinder at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.