Why is the Friends Apartment Building Still Popular Among New Yorkers?

By: ROS Team

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The apartment building featured in the 90s sitcom Friends is a beloved New York City landmark that people from all over the world continue to visit even though the show no longer airs. But have you ever wondered why the Friends apartment building is still as popular as it is?

Although the Friends apartment building was only a three-second shot. It served as the backdrop for the adventures of the famed Friends characters from 1994 until 2004. That’s why Friends fans worldwide feel an affiliation with this building and still take photos in front of it.

friends building nyc

In real life, the building featured in the sitcom is not a jaw-dropping piece of architecture. According to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission archives. The Friends apartment building is an ordinary six-story building that was built in 1899 using standard red bricks.

Why is the Friends Apartment Building Still Popular Among New Yorkers?

We could provide multiple reasons behind the popularity of this TV show. One reason is it’s in syndication, which earns Warner Brothers approximately $1 billion annually.  The show is timeless; it’s become a fan favorite among a generation that wasn’t even born when it first aired. The storylines also translate across age barriers.

Friends fans can still relate to the characters and their life circumstances, which is a key factor in its popularity. Friends take us back to when life was simple – before the internet and social media platforms.

There are some unrealistic things in this show. Such as the characters living in a big apartment in  New York City. One of the most expensive and crowded cities in the world. But Friends served as the perfect escape for 20-somethings who either aspired to live in the “big city” or who could identify with any of the characters.  The fact that this is still one of the most popular shows today, 20 years after the last show aired, is a testament to its cultural relevance. And, thanks to the iconic apartment building feature in the show. Friends is sure to remain just as popular as it was when it first aired.

Where is the Friends Apartment?

The Friends apartment building is located at the corner of Grove Street in NYC. Its actual address is  90 Bedford Street. You can easily reach the building by taking the A, B, C, D, E, F, or M subway lines.

You can also take the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) Train to the Christopher Street Station, which is the best option for visitors arriving from New Jersey.

friends apartment outside

1. Central Perk

Central Perk is the fictional coffee shop where Rachel used to work and was a popular hangout for their friends. People may be surprised to learn that Central Perk doesn’t actually exist on the ground level like it’s portrayed in the sitcom.

2. Phoebe’s Apartment

On the show, Phoebe usually stayed at Monica’s apartment. But she had her own apartment, and it was a short 4-minute walk from the Friends building. Phoebe’s apartment address is mentioned in “The One with Joey’s New Brain” episode: 5 Morton Street, Apartment 14.

3. The Lucille Lortel Theater

In season 3, episode 22 of the show, Joey invites his friends to one of his performances at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. The theater is located at 21 Christopher Street in New York.

4. Friends Fountain in Central Park

The fountain featured in the show’s opening shot is not actually located in Central Park.  Friends fountain is not even in New York City. The fountain in the show is the Bethesda Fountain, and it frequently appears in movies and TV shows.

5. The Museum Where Ross Worked

In Friends, one of the most unforgettable scenes (when Ross and Rachel are intimate for the first time) occurred at the museum where Ross worked. It was named the New York Museum of Prehistoric History in the season and was inspired by The American Museum of Natural History. Definitely consider visiting the American Museum of Natural History if you’re in NYC because it is one of the best museums in the city. The museum is located in Central Park West between 77th and 78th Streets.

6. The Plaza Hotel

The Plaza Hotel comes up in the first episode of season 7 when the group plans to go for a champagne toast there to celebrate Monica and Chandler’s engagement. However, the plan fails because of a sudden plot twist. You can enjoy a champagne toast at The Champagne Bar in the Plaza Hotel, which is located at 768 5th Avenue at 59th Street.

7. Chandler’s Office

As we know, Chandler was an IT professional, and his office was near the Plaza Hotel at 9 West 57th Street. This building also appears in the original Sex and the City series.

8. The Moondance Diner

The Moondance Diner was where Monica worked as a waitress. But Monica was not the only one to work in this popular dining spot – Mary Jane Watson from Spider-Man also worked there. The diner featured in these shots was located at 8- Sixth Avenue between Grand Street and Canal Street until 2012. The James Hotel is now located there.

9. Bloomingdale’s

Bloomingdale’s is a famous departmental store in New York City where Rachel worked as an assistant buyer. It is located at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue near the Roosevelt Aerial Tram.

10. Madison Square Garden

This is the home stadium of the New York Knicks basketball team. In season 4, episode 19, Monica and Rachel have difficulty getting tickets but eventually manage to get season tickets. Which they later offer to Joey and Chandler on the condition that they return to their own apartment.

Friends Paradoxes

  • Monica and Rachel’s Apartment

The show was criticized for some unrealistic aspects. The major criticism was centered around the Friends apartment’s unrealistic structure and design. These types of apartments were found in older buildings in Greenwich Village. Therefore, it does not make sense to have this type of apartment located on the upper floor in a building like the one located at 90 Bedford Street.

The other unrealistic aspect of this apartment, which is often criticized by fans and New Yorkers, is how Monica and Rachel could even afford an apartment in Greenwich Village. Monica, who is an assistant at Bloomingdales, and Rachel, who is a chef, could not really afford to live in an apartment like that in NYC.

Even if you keep in mind that rent rates were cheaper at that time. It still wouldn’t have been feasible for any one of the Friends characters to live at that place. Greenwich Village, where the apartment is located, has rather exorbitant rent rates. Even a studio apartment would cost around $3,500 a month. Fans have argued that, although it was filmed in the 90s. It’s not feasible that anyone could rent an apartment in Greenwich Village for just $300 a month as mentioned on the show.

However, the show also justifies the affordability of the apartment. The show explains that this apartment once belonged to Monica’s grandmother and she inherited it after her grandmother died.

New York’s rent and housing laws state grandchildren have succession right to rent-stabilized apartments. We can assume that her grandmother lived in this apartment for several decades, therefore they were paying reasonable rent.

Nonetheless, the New York Times quoted a senior citizen of about 80 years old who rented a 4-bedroom  1200 square foot apartment for just $332 a month. The City’s rent control laws are the reason behind this low price. According to these laws, buildings constructed before 1947 having six and more than six rental units are rent controlled.

This law prevents the uncontrolled increase in rent-controlled rents by dictating the owners while increasing rents. The rents could increase based on the time of the lease. In this way, rent-controlled rents are lower than the market rate.

There is one requirement in the law that seems to throw a wrench in that logic, though. To become eligible for succession, the grandchild must live with the grandparent(s) as their primary residence for at least a year before the grandparent(s) die. It was not clear whether or not Monica met that criteria.

Additionally, Ross and Monica were Jewish, which means their grandmother was also Jewish as evidenced by her German surname, Geller. Her name indicates that she and her family probably immigrated to New York in the late 19th or early 20th century when the city saw an influx of Jewish immigrants. Supposedly, Ross and Monica’s grandparents were the pioneer occupants of this tenement and they passed this apartment down from one generation to the next generation.

  • Ross’ Apartment

Ross’s apartment is located at Washington Square Village. He lived here in the first several seasons of the show. These apartments were built in the second half of the 1950s by Robert Moses, but Ross’ apartment unit appears spacious and modern. However, the unrealistic aspect of this is that this apartment building was owned by New York University and was where their faculty lived in the 1960s.  So, while there were older residents who stayed in the complex for quite a long time when Friends started airing in 1994. Non-Faculty residents of this building were comparatively the minority and would have only lived there before NYU took over ownership in the 1960s.

Maybe Ross had another grandparent who was a faculty member at New York University and he, too, inherited his apartment.

It should be noted, however, that, in later seasons, Ross loses his apartment in Washington Square Village after his separation from Emily and begins teaching courses at NYU. Perhaps they should have switched the request for those storylines.

Conclusion – Friends Apartment

Nearly two decades have passed since the last episode of Friends aired. But the sitcom still remains popular among people of all ages across the globe. People still admire and cherish the cast, as evidenced by the reaction Jennifer Aniston received after making her Instagram debut in 2019 (she received over a million followers in less than a week).

Despite the unrealistic elements riddled throughout the show, it’s not enough to dampen its appeal and charm. The show, and the iconic apartment building featured in it, will no doubt remain cultural gems for years to come.