Pop culture travel: A Law & Order tour of New York with Taryn

Krista: Greetings friends! We have another great guest post today from my friend Taryn, who is both an intrepid traveler and has some great adventures over the years. When I mentioned this pop culture travel series, she suggested a Law & Order post for New York City and I jumped at idea. Join me in welcoming Taryn to the Bite-sized Travel Team of Champions!

I’m a huge Law & Order fan – really huge. In fact, I still hold a big-time grudge against NBC for cancelling it. I watched the original from the very beginning and to this day it still ranks as one of my top five favourite shows of all time.  I loved that it was more story driven than character driven; that you didn’t have to watch every week; that you could watch it in reruns and get through 95% of the episode before remembering the outcome, and of course, it was often “ripped from the headlines.”

The other great thing about L&O was that it was did a lot of location shooting. You got to SEE real New York. Not just random exterior shots, then the actors in sound stages in California (ahem, Seinfeld, Friends). The detectives were at Bryant Park, in front of Penn Station, on the steps of the Supreme Court building – in the rain, the snow. I remember reading an article towards the end of the series that said the biggest star of L&O was actually New York City.

I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to spend a lot of time in NYC. For several years, my brother and his wife lived in New Jersey – about 40 minutes by train to Penn Station – so my visits to them (2 to 3 times a year) always included 3 or 4 days in NYC.  I was never much of a planner when visiting – I liked the freedom to choose one or two things to do in the morning then play the rest of the day by ear.  The very last time in visited them in NJ I had one thing on my must-do list: do a Law and Order tour. I didn’t want to do a guided tour so I did a bit of research and picked some things that meant L&O to me.

Staten Island Ferry

I started at the Staten Island Ferry. As every dedicated L&O fan knows, that is where Detective Mike Logan ended up after he punched that city councilor in the face (Season 5, Episode 23). (L&O Criminal Intent drinking game: drink every time someone threatens to send Logan back to Staten Island) I confess that due to crappy weather, I did not actually GO to Staten Island.

One Police Plaza – Park Row

I won’t lie – this is what I really wanted to see.  Criminal Intent used the exterior in the final shot of their opening credits and so many episodes mention One Police Plaza (or One PP).  It seemed, for me, to represent “law”. It’s not an attractive building – it replaced previous headquarters at 240 Centre Street (which is attractive).

I started taking some pictures of the building and was attempting to take a picture of the plaque that says One Police Plaza when one of New York’s finest quickly came over and asked what I was doing, why I was taking pictures. Apparently you are not allowed to take pictures of the building anymore (thanks a lot, terrorists). I’m slightly ashamed of what I said next “Oh, I’m so sorry.I’m Canadian.and I’m so excited to be here.and I’m just a really big L&O fan.”  That did it – I guess the officer felt bad for the poor, untraveled Canadian whose biggest thrill in NYC is this building because he gave me permission to take a few more shots.

There is a cool red sculpture in front of One PP. It’s called “5 in 1” by Tony Rosenthal. It’s five interlocking discs which represent the five boroughs. I recognized it right away as having been in many exterior shots.And it’s just kind of a cool piece of art.  Beyond “5 in 1” is the archway of the Municipal Building which is a gorgeous building.

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Supreme Court – 60 Centre Street

From One PP I made my way to Foley Square to get a view of the New York State Supreme Court building.the “order” of the show.  It’s immediately recognizable – it was frequently used as a shooting location and I won’t lie, I got kind of excited to see it. It’s a great building in the classical Roman style.

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From there I planned to make my way back up to Midtown to 8th Ave and 53rd Street which has been renamed Jerry Orbach Way but I’m not going to lie: Foley Square is about a 10 minute walk from Chinatown and I was lured away by the thought of really good noodles.  If you have time, head crosstown over to Chelsea Piers – much of the filming is done there.

While you’re out exploring New York through Law and Order sites, play this game (or do it now): create your dream Law and Order team. One captain and two detective; one district attorney, one executive assistant DA, and one assistant DA. You can also add one psychiatrist, one medical examiner and one defense attorney. [Krista here: Wikipedia has a thorough list of characters to help you assemble your own dream team.]

Seeing these sites in person has made the show even more enjoyable to watch. Have you sought out Law & Order sights in NYC? If so, share your favourite!



  1. Awesome! I totally want to create an L&O tour next time I’m in New York. Always wanted to visit Baltimore and do a similar Homicide: Life on the Street tribute tour. Any takers?


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