Today’s New York moment is courtesy of WORLD New York summer intern Esther Eaton.
A woman pushed a stroller down the sidewalk. A smiling couple paused at a corner produce stand to buy mangos. A young man inspected the prices at a barbershop.
Pedestrians stopped, turned around, and returned to their starting marks as the film crew members reset their cameras.
Movie extras filled the street in Washington Heights again while true neighborhood residents watched from their front steps. One commented that this area of the city usually provides a place to find the body in episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. This summer it’s been the place for the dance numbers and duets of the upcoming film In the Heights.
Slated for release in June 2020, In the Heights is based on a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame). It takes place on a block in Washington Heights, a largely Hispanic neighborhood in northern Manhattan, and this summer it’s filming there—complete with dance routines in the streets.
Hundreds of movies and TV shows shoot in New York City each year, but this one feels local. Miranda grew up near Washington Heights, and his musical celebrates the neighborhood. He’ll make a small appearance in the movie as a man selling piraguas, a flavored ice treat available from carts on many corners in Washington Heights.
Miranda has said he hopes the movie encourages more people to appreciate his neighborhood, and perhaps to visit. As the musical’s characters sing, “You simply must take the A train” to where “cool breezes blow” from open fire hydrants on hot summer days, and where children run laughing through the spray. —Esther Eaton