UPDATE: This area is no longer being used as the Boardwalk Empire set.
Although Martin Scorsese’s hit Prohibition-era series, Boardwalk Empire, is set in Atlantic City, much of the show is shot in Brooklyn.
The actual boardwalk lives in a huge lot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It is an incredibly elaborate set, and according to Production Designer Bob Shaw, it’s the first outdoor set to be built in New York City since the local film industry died out in the 1910s.
Although the lot is closed to the public, you can catch glimpses of the buildings and set pieces through the fence. The giant tower of shipping crates visible from street level, is used to support an equally gigantic blue screen that fills in for the CGI ocean and buildings extending over the pier. The facades of the buildings that run parallel to the boardwalk actually exist and all are built with painstaking detail; everything from protagonist, Nucky’s, Ritz-Carlton Hotel to the storefront space that displays babies in incubators.
Each episode takes 12 days to shoot: two in the Greenpoint lot and ten scattered everywhere from a church in Bedford-Stuyvesent (doubling as the interior of Babette’s Supper Club) to Park Slope’s Montauk Club (an AC casino). The website of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting has a handy list of several key locations.
At 10:45 on August 16, 2012 a controlled explosion was conducted on the set, to a cheering crowd of Greenpointers.
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Manhattan may have name-brand recognition and Brooklyn a certain cachet, but Queens is the city’s largest and most diverse borough. Join us, May 17–20, to dig into Queens’ rich neighborhood life.