Who could forget Meg Ryan’s charming brownstone from the 1998 film You’ve Got Mail? It was definitely one of the highlights of this romantic comedy for me, along with her character’s equally charming children’s bookstore. The movie reunited Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan five years after they first found love in Sleepless in Seattle.
Ryan plays Kathleen Kelly, who runs The Shop Around the Corner. Hanks is her business rival Joe Fox, who runs the megastore Fox Books. Even though they’re both involved with someone else, they’re falling for each other anonymously, through daily e-mails.
Kathleen lives on the Upper West Side of NYC in a brownstone that the movie’s writer and director Nora Ephron says she believes was on West 89th Street, “But I could be wrong. Who remembers?”
During the opening credits, the camera pans up the brownstone and into Kathleen’s apartment:
I kept hoping for a better look into that bathroom she’s stepping out of, but this is pretty much all we see of it:
Greg Kinnear plays Kathleen’s boyfriend Frank. She watches him leave through the peephole to be sure he’s really gone before she checks her e-mail:
And checking for messages from “NY152,” as Hanks calls himself online (she’s Shopgirl):
In the late ’90s, when I was a new stay-at-home mom living out in the country and feeling very lonely and cut off from the world, my husband surprised me with an AOL e-mail account for Christmas. I got a kick out of seeing Meg Ryan checking her AOL e-mail. First are all of those noisy dial-up sounds that I had forgotten about. Then the little cartoon guy who looks like he’s running to fetch your messages. And the waiting and hoping that you’ll be told that you actually have mail!
See? The bed is now angled off to the left:
The dining area, peeking into the kitchen:
In this shot you get a glimpse of the great woodwork in the hall, and the trim around the doors:
The Shop Around the Corner
You’ve Got Mail was a modern update of a 1940 romantic comedy called The Shop Around the Corner, starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. In the original, the shop was in Budapest and called Matuschek’s. Alfred (Stewart) and Klara (Margaret Sullavan) worked in the gift shop together and drove each other nuts, not realizing that they were actually secret pen pals who hoped to meet someday.
In a nod to the original, Meg’s independent bookstore was named The Shop Around the Corner:
Tom Hanks plays the owner of a new bookstore that has opened in the neighborhood called Fox Books. It’s one of those superstores that tends to put the independent ones out of business. Kathleen doesn’t know that’s who he is when he brings his father’s young children into the store one day. And he doesn’t know that Kathleen is the one he’s been e-mailing back and forth with for weeks.
The bookstore decorated for Christmas:
She can’t compete with Fox Books and soon goes out of business:
For more information:
- See the “cheese and antiques” shop that was used as the exterior for The Shop Around the corner, and read why it had to close in the NYT. (The interiors of the book shop were filmed on a soundstage.)
- See how the brownstone looks today here.
- Read more about the decorating at The Devine Home.
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