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Binge-watching Gossip Girl on the show’s tenth anniversary reveals that the locations hold up well — but Upper East Siders will spot the ways that GG dates itself


  • Met steps, yellow taxi. Photo: Lorraine Duffy Merkl

  • The Met Museum steps. Photo: Lorraine Duffy Merkl

  • Bendel's. Photo: Lorraine Duffy Merkl

“So, was it like Gossip Girl?” Four years ago, that was what the classmates of my now 22-year-old son Luke, wanted to know after he told them he grew up in Manhattan. Not only were the Boston students curious, but so were the Australian ones he met during his semester abroad.

Yes, on the other side of the world (my research discovered the show was big in China, too) everyone was fascinated by the golden gang that roamed the Upper East Side for six seasons between 2007 and 2012.

The CW show is celebrating its tenth anniversary and I suspect there will be many who, like me, are paying tribute with a Netflix binge.

At first blush, the show holds up pretty well. The who’s-dating-whom plotlines are timeless. The GG one-percenters fit in just fine in our Trump-led country. Their classic preppy stylings, as well as the boho chic of Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), look contemporary. The major monuments used in exterior shots are as grand as ever: the Met steps, where Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) — and her headbands — held court; The Palace Hotel, where the van der Woodsen family lived; the Museum of New York, which served as the entrance of the high school; plus, the Frick, the Cooper Hewitt, Wollman Rink, Grand Central and, of course, Central Park are as they were.

Those outside of Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill or Yorkville will still see modern-day NYC, but true Upper East Siders can spot the ways GG dates itself.

BK vs. NYC

When going to the outer borough to visit The Humphrey family, they act as though their journey rivals that of those who landed at Ellis Island after a month on a boat. Brooklyn now out-cools Manhattan, and some of us go there to hang out by choice.

Bloomies, Bergdorf’s and Bendel’s, Oh My

Serena runs into wanna-be Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen) shopping for dresses at Henri Bendel. Dead giveaway: The upscale department store no longer sells clothing, just wildly amazing accessories.

Tutor-less SAT prep

Barron’s may be the only recourse for outsider Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), but the children of the elite without a $150 an hour academic coach? Oh, stop it. Just stop.

Location, Location, Location

“Dress for Success” is the show’s motto and everyone lives up to and by it — especially doyennes Lily van der Woodsen (Kelly Rutherford) and Eleanor Waldorf (Margaret Colin) — until someone refers to the Fashion Week tents at Bryant Park.

Trump Tower As Tourist Attraction

As opposed to protest destination. Watching the GG girls shop their way down Fifth Avenue with Trump Tower in the background, the black and gold monolith looks practically akin to an abandoned building without the barricades, police presence and Secret Service agents.

Vogue, GQ, The New Yorker

Blair and Dan get dream internships at Condé Nast. Entry-level positions such as these can only be described as hard to get and prestigious — until the unpaid workers mutinied, won their law suit and the program was shut down.

Find My iPhone

Any UES-er who ever bumped into a bunch of teens taking a group selfie (because you were texting while walking) would be taken aback by Serena & Co.’s use of flip phones, actual cameras for still and video, as well as listening to music on iPods — at least until Season 6.

How Do I Get To ... ?

When not traveling via limo courtesy of Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), the golden children take yellow cabs. It’s actually a little jarring to go through a whole episode, let alone season, without hearing the word “Uber.” Reference is made to Blair returning from the Hamptons on the Jitney. Now, if she were actually going to brave the LIE, it would be on a Hamptons Ambassador (the Jitney’s classier older sister), but most likely she’d copter to the East End via Blade. When Blair gets into NYU, Nate Archibald (Chase Crawford) teaches her how to maneuver the pre-Q subway lines. Hey, where are the blue rows of CitiBikes?

I Crave A Half-Caf No-Foam Latte

If UES-ers walk a block without a Starbucks cup in hand, can they really call themselves UES-ers? This group NEVER went to the Seattle-based coffee chain. I thought I was seeing things.


The pre-under new management Campbell Apartment (now simply The Campbell) where Serena and Nate cheated on Blair; Centolire where Blair dined (FYI: the breaded chicken was to die for); and Juicy Couture, in front of which, Chuck and Blair had one of their famed knock-down drag-outs.

Regardless, Happy Anniversary Gossip Girl. And to the UES that inspired it—xoxo

Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels “Back to Work She Goes” and “Fat Chick,” for which a movie is in the works.

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