What all the iconic locations in ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’ are like in real life

Some elements of the movie look much different nearly 30 years later. 20th Century Fox/Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
  • I’ve lived in New York City for over two years, and during that time I’ve stopped at many of the destinations featured in “Home Alone 2.”
  • While the movie was released in 1992, many of the scenes look similar to New York City today.
  • Some locations, though, have closed or never existed in the first place.
  • Here’s a look at how the movie holds up to today’s reality.
  • There are some spoilers in this post.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Early every Christmas, I make a cup of hot cocoa and watch one of the “Home Alone” movies.

‘Home Alone.’ 20th Century Fox

The Christmas season means endless holiday movies, and a worldwide favourite is the “Home Alone” franchise.

The series is comprised of five films created by John Hughes and directed by a slew of famous directors, like Chris Columbus.

Each film has all the important 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 favourite now that I live in the city where the film was shot.

McCallister escapes the bad guys. 20th Century Fox

“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 off to.

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 two years in New York City, I’ve enjoyed reliving scenes and touring some of the real-life locations from the film.

A trip to Times Square. Monica Humphries/Insider

“Home Alone 2” is filled with plenty of popular – and not so popular – New York destinations.

As I rewatched the classic Christmas movie this year, I wanted to see how the movie holds up to today’s reality.

The opening plot involves McCallister landing in an unfamiliar airport, which turns out to be LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York.

McCallister arrives at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York. 20th Century Fox

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 realises that a solo trip to New York City could be a fun adventure.

Let’s just say I haven’t seen views like that from any airport around New York City.

LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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.

Especially with all the current COVID protocol, I’m in no hurry to have a leisurely walk throughout the airport in search of the McCallister bench.

Watching the movie this year, I cringed when no one in the airport wears masks, and many elements of the airport experience feel outdated, like the flight attendant uniforms.

McCallister then catches a taxi and heads into Manhattan on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.

Kevin McCallister rides a taxi across the bridge. 20th Century Fox

After the shock and worry of what just happen, McCallister decides to make the most of his stay in New York City.

Fortunately, he has his father’s carry-on bag, which is 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 marks the start or end of any adventure for me as a New Yorker, and it looks like not much has changed.

Cyclists wearing masks ride on the Queensboro Bridge as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on May 13, 2020. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

While I’ve ride shared and walked over the bridge a handful of times, I’m almost always heading to a destination when crossing the bridge, which was completed in 1909.

In the movie, McCallister is riding in a now-outdated taxi. The reality is taxis look drastically different, and people are more likely to opt for an Uber or Lyft, which didn’t exist when “Home Alone 2” was filmed.

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.

McCallister at Radio City Music Hall. 20th Century Fox

These scenes go by quickly as McCallister visits many neighbourhoods 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.

Radio City Music Hall last December. Monica Humphries/Insider

The movie is designed to take 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 teeming with people.

But that might change this year as COVID-19 is forcing more people to stay home and avoid holiday travel.

Viewers also spot McCallister in front of Empire Diner, a classic, all-American establishment.

McCallister crosses paths with Santa in front of Empire Diner. 20th Century Fox

The scene, which is only a couple of seconds long, 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.”

A picture of Empire Diner after the mural was painted. Tom G./Yelp

While the diner looks the same, behind it is a colourful mural. Painted by Eduardo Kobra, the mural features Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The diner, which is located at 210 10th Ave., opened in 1976.

According to the diner’s website, the restaurant is currently closed and plans to reopen in spring 2021.

After passing the diner, McCallister heads to Chinatown, where he stops at Quong Yuen Shing & Co. Unfortunately, the store closed in 2003.

McCallister leaving Quong Yuen Shing & Co. in ‘Home Alone 2.’ 20th Century Fox

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, and 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 tour, 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 in The Battery. 20th Century Fox

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 is still the best place in Manhattan to spot Lady Liberty.

No binoculars in sight. Monica Humphries/Insider

The Battery, which is a 25-acre public park, is one of my favourite 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.

Somehow McCallister manages to make his way to the top of one of the Twin Towers.

McCallister at the top of one of the Twin Towers. 20th Century Fox

The World Trade Centre was compromised 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.

A month before the One World Observatory temporarily closed due to COVID-19. pio3/Shutterstock

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 observation deck reopened on November 1 after being since mid-March. Currently, the tourist spot is operating at 25% capacity, but note the experience is enclosed, unlike the Twin Towers’ observation deck.

The $US38 experience is 102 stories high versus McCallister’s 110 stories.

Next up we spot McCallister at the Fulton Fish Market. He just barely misses some familiar faces we haven’t seen yet, Harry and Marv.

McCallister at the Fulton Fish Market. 20th Century Fox

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 have travelled to New York City to steal money.

The fish mark is portrayed as 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 New Fulton Fish Market. Jim B./Yelp

The first market is completely 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 than the movie, I can guarantee that 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 Plaza Hotel. 20th Century Fox

The Pigeon Lady will become a key 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.

A view of the Plaza Hotel. fotog/Getty Images

Standing in the southeast corner of Central Park, visitors can get a full 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, which points him in the direction of the hotel.

The statue from the film. 20th Century Fox

The statue is still up today and can be spotted in Central Park South.

The statue can be spotted in Central Park South. Ira L. Black/Corbis/Getty Images/Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket/Getty Images

The general is known for helping Argentina, Chile, and Peru gain independence from the Spanish.

It’s a lesser-known statue, but it looks exactly 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.

McCallister runs into now-President Donald Trump in the movie. 20th Century Fox

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 that’s created in the film.

The Plaza Hotel decorated for Christmas last year. Benno Schwinghammer/picture alliance/Getty Images

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, according to Business Insider.

While McCallister is enjoying the hotel’s pool, Marv is ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park.

Marv and Harry at Wollman Rink. 20th Century Fox

Here is where the duo gets the idea to rob a toy store.

The ice skating rink really hasn’t changed since the 1990s.

The Wollman Rink last winter. Monica Humphries/Insider/RBL/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

I’ve watched plenty of children – and adults – take a tumble at Wollman Rink over the last few years.

The rink is usually packed with people, and this year it’s still open to the public.

Located at 59th Street and 6th Avenue, the rink offers views of the skyline and costs $US19 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.

Duncan’s Toy Chest. 20th Century Fox

Duncan’s Toy Chest doesn’t exist in real life, but it is based on the real toy store, FAO Schwarz.

A worker standing outside of FAO Schwarz in October. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

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 Theatre, 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.

The store has also implemented some COVID-19 protocols, like limited capacity and face mask requirements.

McCallister runs into Harry and Marv at the store and quickly darts into Central Park for his getaway.

McCallister stows away in a carriage to escape. 20th Century Fox

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, personally, I think it looks exactly the same.

Central Park is still one of my favourite New York City destinations. Monica Humphries/Insider

Throughout the film, McCallister is spotted across Manhattan’s largest park.

Yes, the Pigeon Lady still exists and so do the horse-drawn carriages, although the riders were temporarily closed through September due to the pandemic.

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 Time Square.

Times Square in ‘Home Alone 2.’ 20th Century Fox

The movie depicts Times Square as being fairly spacious and empty, which for the first time in decades, is realistic.

Times Square earlier this month. Noam Galai/Getty Images

Under normal circumstances, is 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.

But this year, the movie looks closer to reality.

The square has recently been calm and quiet due to the coronavirus. Because the pandemic has largely impacted tourism in New York City, Times Square has been at the forefront of those effects.

One of the final scenes in the city features McCallister admiring the giant Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza.

McCallister in front of the Rockefeller Christmas tree. 20th Century Fox

In the plaza, McCallister reunites with his mother, who flew to New York to search for her son.

In the movie, the plaza is completely 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.

Rockefeller Plaza in 2018. Monica Humphries/Insider

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.

The ongoing pandemic is likely to dampen some crowds, but I doubt it will ever be as empty as it is in “Home Alone 2.”

Earlier this month, the 75-foot-tall spruce tree was placed in front of the Rockefeller, and on December 2, they will have the annual lighting of the tree, which isn’t open to the public this year, according to CNN.

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 in “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.

The Brooklyn Bridge. Monica Humphries/Insider