Look, it’s no secret that I’m a bit of a Potterhead…..okay, maybe a big Potterhead. I wasn’t initially in love with the books since they are “children’s” books and I expected them to be a fad. I didn’t want to jump on a bandwagon, especially if the books were complete rubbish. While I saw and enjoyed the first movie (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), it still wasn’t quite enough to make me go read the books. It wasn’t until years later when I was commuting to Baltimore that I started listening to the books. After the first three books, I was hooked. I loved the books, I loved the narrator, I loved everything about it. Five years after the last Harry Potter film came out, JK Rowling has given us new wizarding world material to drool over in the form of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

One of the things I have thoroughly enjoyed about JK Rowling’s work has been the world building. Both Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts have a basis in real places, London and New York, respectively. Brianna’s already written about the world of Harry Potter here and here, so I’ll explore Fantastic Beasts set in the roaring 20s (1926 to be exact). While you can find lots of information on this topic via the internet or by watching the movie (yay!), there is also this sweet book:

Here are a few of the real life locations seen in the movie.

Magical Congress of the United States of America 

For MACUSA, the Woolworth Building was the perfect place for America’s wizarding government. Completed in 1913 and designed by Cass Gilbert, the building was the tallest in the world when it was completed. The 60 stories worth of building is a showcase of Beaux Arts design with ornate Gothic sculptural detailing.

The top thirty floors are currently being renovated into thirty-three condominiums. These units start at just under $10 million. If that’s a little steep, try a tour of the lobby by going to this site.

The interior (for the film) was inspired by the Sienna Cathedral. The Sienna Cathedral is a Gothic-style church in Italy. It was initially built in the early 11th century. The existing church features work by some of Italy’s most prominent artists of the day. Interior wise, the building has soaring ceilings, typical of Gothic cathedrals, with striped columns and a blue ceiling with gold stars – a good fit for the wizarding world, yes?

By ricardo andré frantz (taken by uploader) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons


City Hall Subway Station

The City Hall subway station was built in 1904. It was designed by Heins and LaFarge and featured work by Rafael Guastavino. The station was intended to be the “crown jewel” of the system and reflected the City Beautiful movement. To create a beautiful station, the architects incorporated richly toned tiles of red, green, and cream, vaulted ceilings, and three glass skylights.

While the station was closed in 1945, tours are now being offered via the New York Transit Museum.

By Julian Dunn from New York, USA (Old City Hall Station) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Central Park Zoo

Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux designed Central Park in 1858 via a design competition. The Central Park Zoo did not have any official buildings until 1934. Prior to this, a menagerie and was located behind the Arsenal building.

The photo below is of the Delacorte Clock which was dedicated in 1965. It is located between the Wildlife Center and the Children’s Zoo.

Photo by Ann Oro


The series continues with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald hitting theaters in December of this year. The trailer looks like we’ll be exploring the architecture back at Hogwarts. Plus, they mentioned Paris – Beauxbatons Academy of Magic anyone? Check out the trailer below:

(Feature image by Martin Pettitt)