Reel Estate

Reel Estate: Home Alone 2 and its brownstone-turned-battleground

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When a movie or TV show is set in New York City—and if the people making it are savvy—real estate becomes part of the story itself. In Reel Estate, we look at some of the more memorable domiciles to grace the screen.

To a lot of people, nothing says "Christmas in New York" like the Rockefeller tree or the windows at Barneys. But to viewers who grew up with Home Alone 2, nothing says "Christmas in New York" like vigilante violence carried out in a Manhattan brownstone by a small child.

In the sequel to the beloved (if gory) original, Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) accidentally ends up on a flight to New York while the rest of his family heads to Florida for the holidays. Having seen ads for the Plaza Hotel on TV (and this being filmed before part of the building went condo), he checks in using his dad's credit card, a Talkboy, and an elaborate lie about being there with his father on a business trip. Naturally, he's not in New York for long before he runs into his nemeses from the first film, Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), also known as the "Sticky Bandits."

After getting chased out of the Plaza by hotel staff once they realize he's "stolen" his dad's credit card, Kevin tries to go see his uncle Rob, who lives on the Upper West Side, only to find that Rob's out of town and his brownstone is undergoing a complete gut renovation. (Any workers or contractors seem to have disappeared for the holidays.) When things get dicey with Harry and Marv, rather than calling the cops, Kevin turns the entire building into a cartoonishly violent trap, and lures them uptown. 

As you can see, most of the floors have been taken out for the reno:

What ensues is, in retrospect, fairly disturbing—Kevin uses every aspect of the under-construction house against them: he tosses bricks, pushes over shelves, sets them on fire, electrocutes Marv with stray jumper cables, shoots Harry with a nail gun, dumps heavy-duty tools on their heads, sends them up ladders he's disconnected, and eventually, runs them plummeting from the building's roof on a rope he's soaked in kerosene and set on fire.

He even draws up a blueprint of his plan to use the house as a weapon:

The air got to it

Though the address is stated in the movie as 51 West 95th Street, no actual brownstones were harmed in the making of this film: while a lot of the movie was shot on location, this portion was filmed on "Brownstone Street" at the Universal Studios backlot in L.A. The actual 51 West 95th is, indeed, a real brownstone, but on a street that looks a little different. According to Zillow, it's currently worth about $23 million:

Google Street View

In any case, Harry and Marv survive the onslaught, and after the Sticky Bandits are carted off to jail, Kevin is reunited with this family in a duplex suite at the Plaza, just in time for Christmas morning. However, the fate of his uncle's brownstone is less clear. At the end, when Kevin's dad gets the bill from his son's stay at the hotel, he screams, "You spent $967 on room service?!" We'll bet the call from Uncle Rob (or Uncle Rob's contractor) was much, much was worse.


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