New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, October 02, 2009

Del Floria's

There were many things growing up that sold me on this city. One was watching the TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. This program (from 1964-8) was about a fictional secret intelligence agency, U.N.C.L.E., with headquarters in New York City. The entrance itself was secret, located in the rear of Del Floria's - a tailor/laundry shop, located somewhere below street level in a brownstone in the East 40s near the United Nations. See video of the opening trailer here.

As a boy, I was riveted to images of the show's opening sequence, determined to glean enough details to find Del Floria's at some future time. So I could never understand the fear and dislike for the city. At the very least, didn't you want to find Del Floria's Tailor shop?
But rather than fascination, most New Englanders that I grew up with had feelings about New York City that ranged from being afraid to being terrified. When I say terrified, I mean a nearly pathological fear that transcends any rational explanation. A fear of being lost in the black hole of New York City's highways, byways, cloverleafs, on ramps, off ramps, bridges, tunnels, and one-way streets, apparently never to return.

However, I must admit that the roadways of New York City can be daunting and unforgiving. The Triborough Bridge, shown in the photo is a good example of what could be a traveler's nightmare. This bridge is actually a complex of three bridges connecting Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx.

There is often no humanity on the roads of New York City. Make a mistake and you will pay the price, sometimes literally. In most cases, if you mistakenly find yourself approaching a bridge or tunnel, I have bad news for you - you're going through it or over it, with no opportunity for turning around. I was furious for years over an incident where, while driving in Brooklyn, I missed the last exit and was forced to travel over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to Staten Island and pay an exorbitant toll. 
In spite of space for an easy turnaround, I was not allowed and was forced to pay the toll, exit, and return. Begging the toll officer was of no avail - better luck negotiating with the man from U.N.C.LE.

In some ways, I enjoy successfully navigating the maelstrom of New York City, so for me, this has always been a challenge to meet, not a cross to bear. And when I find Del Floria's, you'll see it here...

Note about the photos:
Top Photo: This is the base of the Triborough Bridge (built in 1936 and renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in 2008) as seen from Ward's Island. For more info, see here.
Bottom Photo Collage: Sequence showing Del Floria's Tailor Shop and method of entry to U.N.C.LE. headquarters.


Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

A great story, Brian. Before making a trip to Paris, my wife and I watched the opening of the movie Ronin over and over, trying to nail the exact location of the bar on Montmartre where DeNiro meets the crew he will be working with to steal something from some very bad men. We failed, unfortunately.

Was The Man from U.N.C.L.E. actually filmed in New York? I'm guessing Del Floria's could well be on some Hollywood studio back lot.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a great story as always!

Brian Dubé said...

Terry B, Isn't it great fun to try to locate those locales for various scenes in TV and film? Unfortunately you are right - the man from U.N.C.L.E. was filmed in Hollywood. I don't know about that exterior shot of the brownstone though.

Anonymous - thanks. I want to find that Tailor!

George said...

Do you plan to go to Atlantic Antic on Sunday?

Brian Dubé said...

Was not familiar with it - thanks!

Josef said...

I walked this part to the Randall's Island footbridge and got a bit lost because I didn't pay attention to the handwritten signs. I ended up in the social services area for the homeless and unemployed. Some of them were not the welcoming or friendly kind. I was genuinely scared for the first time in my 25 years in New York in a place surrounded by people.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Del Floria's exterior was also on the back lot. Much of the back lot exteriors at MGM burned down during the filming of the series. They used the burned out part in one U.N.C.L.E. episode, and when they needed exteriors of Del Floria's for use in the show after the fire, they reused old footage from previous shows. But, yes, "somehwere in the east 40s..." you just know there's a cool old brownstone leading into the heart of U.N.C.L.E.

Jim T

Anonymous said...

I hate to burst your bubble, but the opening to "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." wasn't even shot in New York. The street was supposed to be East 46th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues (from what I've read). But it was a fake NYC Street in a Hollywood back lot.

It was really amusing to see the same backdrop in a scene from another show. That show was "The Fugitive." In this linked video, you can see Del Floria's in the background as David Jannsen walks down this street, lost in his own thoughts. Hell, he should have gone in and asked U.N.C.L.E. for help in proving his innocence.

One other thing: Why did they make such as bad error in coming up with the name "Floria" with a "del" in front of it instead of "De la"? Or it should have been "Del Florio."