Before it was a box-office blockbuster and an overwhelming visual banquet on the big screen, The Great Gatsby was, and still is, a classic of American literature. It stands as a tribute to author F. Scott Fitzgerald that his quixotic tale continues to earn fans nearly nine decades after its release.
Gatsby owes part of its continued success to its enthralling setting: New York City circa 1922. The Roaring Twenties was a time of prosperity, prohibition, flirtatious flappers and Art Deco architecture. Aussie director Baz Luhrmann's extravagant adaptation of Fitzgerald's novel has once again brought this enigmatic era to light, so what better time to take a look at some of New York's timeless twenties attractions?
On a scorching summer day, the Plaza Hotel played host to Jay Gatsby and his unconventional entourage, unaware that an emotional showdown was about to ensue. While the Plaza opened its doors in late 1907, the prominent and palatial hotel played an important role both in The Great Gatsby and also in F. Scott Fitzgerald's personal life – Fitzgerald and wife Zelda were frequent patrons of the five star Plaza in the 1920s. This certified New York City landmark is one not to be missed. For the definitive Gatsby experience, you can even stay in the dedicated Gatsby Suite on the 18th floor or be part of the hotel's relentless social scene at the Moet Champagne Bar.
The drinks were cold and the pianos hot at New York City's backroom bars during the so-called Crazy Years. Prohibition plays an integral role in Gatsby's story – just how did Jay Gatsby secure his immense wealth? – but also made the headlines of the day when Fitzgerald was penning his novel. During the 1920s-1930s, speakeasy establishments sold bootlegged alcohol on the down low and were publically discussed in hushed tones, hence the term "speakeasy". NYC still has a great number of speakeasy bars like Bathtub Gin and The Back Room, mostly unchanged since the time of the booze ban, where you can enter behind concealed doors at the whisper of a password. Care for a cup of tea*, anyone? (*secretly gin)
Great Neck, Long Island, served as the fundamental inspiration for The Great Gatsby after the Fitzgerald's moved into town, neighboured by the newly wealthy and social elite. Connected to Manhattan by multiple bridges, Long Island includes the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, while Great Neck and Port Washington (the real life West Egg and East Egg) are found on two peninsulas opposite the Bronx. The mansions of the glittering "Gold Coast" still remain and a select few are open to the public, including Oheka Castle, colloquially known as The Great Gatsby Mansion, which saw its fair share of flamboyant parties as a private residence to affluent banker Otto Hermann Kahn.
The Chrysler Building
Just scraping in at the close of the '20s, the Chrysler Building is still one of the most iconic landmarks gracing Manhattan's skyline. The race was on to pierce the sky above New York City with the tallest, grandest building man could muster - a feat the Chrysler Building managed for less than a year until the Empire State Building sprung up. You will find the towering Art Deco edifice at the crosshairs of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue, easily recognised by the seven "crowned" arches at its peak. Step inside the marbled, mural-adorned lobby and be instantly transported back to the New York Gatsby narrator Nick Carraway knew, loved and loathed.