Where Was Friends Filmed? Shooting Locations Explored

The iconic sitcom Friends brought New York City to life under sunny Los Angeles skies at Warner Bros. Studios, with a memorable London excursion for Ross and Emily's wedding. Know more!

Published on Jul 09, 2024  |  09:58 PM IST |  16.2K
Image via IMDb
Friends official poster (Credit: IMDb)

The city of New York was more of a state of mind than a physical location in Friends. Despite its iconic setting in Manhattan, the show's real action unfolded under the sunny skies of Los Angeles. Rachel, Monica, Joey, Chandler, Ross, and Phoebe brought their comedic antics to life at Warner Bros. Studios, where the show was primarily filmed. Even though their coffee breaks and Central Perk hangouts were more Hollywood than Manhattan, the charm and humor of their adventures resonated with audiences worldwide. Additionally, the gang's memorable trip to London for Emily and Ross' wedding added an exciting international flavor to the series, showcasing their comedic chemistry across the pond.

Warner Bros. Studios in California

As opposed to its portrayal on TV, the six-story building in New York's West Village, where Monica and Rachel's apartment exterior was shown, was actually built in 1900 and consists of 22 units, all of which are one-bedrooms. While listing photos may display exposed brickwork akin to Monica and Rachel's place, the real-life apartments feature no purple walls or transom windows! According to StreetEasy, the units offer plenty of space, high ceilings, and large windows that allow natural light to flood in.

There has been no shortage of films set in this locale. The restaurant on the building's ground floor appeared in the 2007 romantic comedy No Reservations as Kate, Nick and Zoe's Bistro.

The interiors of Monica and Rachel's colorful apartment, as well as Joey and Chandler's (sawed-in-half door included), were built 2,800 miles away at Warner Bros. Studio, located at 3400 Warner Blvd. in Burbank. By season two, after the series had become a bonafide hit, the production permanently moved to Stage 24, which served as the show's home for the next nine years.

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As soon as filming finished in 2004, the apartment sets were dismantled and are no longer accessible (although they were recreated for Friends: The Reunion). However, Stage 24 still exists and is now known as the Friends Stage in honor of its seminal success. This structure is also where Full House was filmed from 1993 to 1995 and can be viewed on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood, a three-hour interactive and intimate tour.

Friends apartments, New York City

All of the friends lived in Monica's apartment at one time or another - the one with the yellow peephole frame. Ross lived with his grandmother in the apartment during college; Phoebe lived there before Rachel swept in with her runaway bride drama. Lastly, during a trivia game, Joey and Chandler won an ill-conceived bet and walked away with the keys to the apartment. By the end of the show, Monica and Chandler had turned the place into a love nest, and even brought their newborn twins there. Chandler tells the twins in the final episode that rent control made the apartment a "friggin' steal."

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The real-life building is located at 90 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village. It made its debut in the pilot and starred in all 10 seasons. A six-story, tan brick building with round-arched windows on the third and sixth floors overlooks Greenwich Village. Originally built in the 1800s, it has seen centuries of real-life laughter. 

Considering Monica's apartment's location, fans speculate that Ugly Naked Guy, and eventually Ross, lived across the street at either 17 or 19 Grove Street. For Phoebe, her address is 5 Morton Street, which, as she states, is just 5 minutes away from Monica's.

Chandler's office, New York City

Chandler's job has been the biggest mystery of the show. In a high-stakes trivia game where Monica and Rachel's apartment is at stake, Rachel says Chandler is a "transponster!" But Monica points out that's not even a word. Chandler claims to have forgotten the combination to his briefcase and just carries it around. Considering his interviewing skills - "Duties? Doodies? Poo?" - it's a wonder he landed a job in the first place!

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Chandler's office building in Midtown Manhattan is the Solow Building, despite the cloud of mystery. Near Central Park, you can find this skyscraper at 9 West 57th Street. The black and white facade soars 49 stories into the sky, towering over the city.

Having slogged away in a cubicle for years, Chandler earns a promotion to an office with a window. He can't wait to share this moment with Phoebe. Instead of admiring Manhattan's grandeur, she notices a guy peeing on the street.

Central Perk, Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood

Central Perk was inspired by a variety of sources. HuffPost reports production designer John Shaffner told them they wanted a corner door like Arnold's Turtle, a restaurant they frequented. Sadly, Arnold's Turtle no longer exists. However, you might be able to find its corner door on 51 Bank Street in New York City. A source of inspiration was brewing across the country in the sun-drenched streets of Los Angeles. 

With its eclectic mix of furniture and the all-important couch that screamed "home away from home," Insomnia Café at 7286 Beverly Blvd. was the go-to spot near Warner Bros. studios. What would become one of television's most memorable hangouts was this unique blend of warmth and character. Although Friends wasn't filmed at Insomnia Café, it inspired Central Perk. 

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Washington Square Park, New York City

Washington Square Park, often featured in Friends, serves as a quintessential visual anchor to immerse viewers in the heart of New York City. Adjacent to New York University, the park becomes pivotal in Ross's storyline when he starts his job as a professor there. In a memorable Thanksgiving episode, the park is also where Chandler spots the Underdog balloon flying overhead, prompting a humorous attempt by the group to catch a glimpse before they end up locked out of Monica's apartment, leaving their Thanksgiving turkey in the oven.

While cartoon balloons may not grace Washington Square Park daily, the park itself is a bustling hub of activity reminiscent of scenes from our favorite show. It acts as Greenwich Village's unofficial town square, where students, akin to Ross, roam, quirky performers echo Phoebe's spirit, and chess hustlers rival Monica's competitive streak. The park is also beloved by dogs, much like Rachel's pets, LaPooh and Chi Chi from the Geller family, who would feel right at home in the park's dog run. 

Washington Square Park thus remains a real-life backdrop that continues to resonate with fans of Friends, offering a slice of New York City life where both fictional and everyday adventures unfold against its vibrant backdrop. 

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ALSO READ: “I Grew Up in Caves”: When Brad Pitt Opened Up About His Hometown And Growing Up Around Cornfields

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