About the site
How it started
Let's go back to 2009. For a few years, I heard about a supposedly great show about the mafia in the USA. However, I never got around to watching it. At the end of 2009 I finally got around to watching it, and loved it from the very first minute. At the same time, I was looking for an internship position in the area of New York City. This turned out to be in New Brunswick, New Jersey. What better chance than this to visit some of the locations used in the show? So, I started searching for websites that provided information about The Sopranos filming locations, like The Lost Virtual Tour has for the show Lost. I was able to find a few sites, but none provided all the information, and none were set up like that site. And so, this site was born! A scene-by-scene list of all the locations used in the show.
Sometimes, finding a location is easy. For example, the IMDb trivia page for The Sopranos gives the location of the season 5 racetrack very clearly. So that's not very interesting. Searching - and ultimately finding a location that is not (well) documented is much more interesting. Let me give you some examples:
- The scuba shop (6x04)
Paulie walks past a sign that says "Cedar Gr[...] Divers Supply". There is also a sign "Mulberry Bush Antiques". A Google search for "Mulberry Bush antiques" gives a location in Cedar Grove. And yes, next door is indeed Cedar Grove Divers Supply. Location found!
- Phil's house (6x19)
This one took a lot of time to find, but it felt great to finally find it! All I had to go on was a shot of the pretty remarkable house from the episode, and a sentence on Soprano Sue's site: "Located in Newark, New Jersey". I found a map of the city limits on Wikipedia, and overlaid that on Google Earth. I then went over all the crossings trying to find a house with a round corner (mostly in Google Earth and Streetview, some parts with a lot of trees in Bing Maps bird's eye). Newark is over 67 square kilometers (26 square miles) big! Well, to be fair: there is quite a lot of industrial area and parks, so I didn't have to search all of that area.
I expected the house to be near South Orange or Irvington, so I started on that side. After going through about 75% of the area, I was starting to think maybe it isn't in Newark. But then, close to the Belleville border (man, do I wish that I started there!) I finally found the house in Bing Maps and confirmed it using Google Streetview. Mystery solved!
- Some road at night (4x04, 5x01)
Night scenes are often harder to identify, since you have to rely mostly on lit buildings. In this case, all that was readable was "Kwik wash". A Google search for Kwik wash had a few results in the NJ/NY area. One was on 21st street in Queens, about a mile from the Silvercup Studios, which made it a good candidate. And yes, after checking with Street view everything matched.
- Two unrelated locations (1x10, 1x11)
This one was fun to find: a street is visible with a Chinese restaurant (name not readable), a sign with an unreadable phone number and "KW... cosmetics greeting". I thought it would be likely that this location was either in Newark or in Jersey City, since they did a lot of shooting there. Using a yellow pages website I did a search for cosmetics in those cities and looked at companies starting with Kw. And although the store front changed since then and the Chinese restaurant is gone, there is no doubt this was the right location.
- Joan's office (2x08)
Before I came to New Jersey (see below) the street outside Joan's office looked just like any other street. Then when I watched the scene again while I was in NJ I noticed the horizontal traffic lights: something I had only seen in Newark so far. Hm, and a park next to a wide street, this looks like Washington Park! And indeed, this was the case and the location could be identified.
My stay in the USA
I am not a citizen of the USA, but in 2010 I got the chance to do an internship in New Brunswick, New Jersey. I arrived on Saturday the 19th of June and the last minutes on the plane were the best: I got to see several locations used in The Sopranos while flying towards Newark airport (itself featured in the show). During my stay, I visited a lot of locations and found quite a few by accident.
On my trip to Newark, Kearny, Harrison, and Belleville, while I was on the train I saw a building that looked a lot like a building featured in episode 1x07. Turns out I was right! Then, while I was walking near Cozzarelli's in Belleville I saw a building that I thought could have been used as the East Haledon middle school, which again turned out to be the case. Another day I was walking in New York City and I saw a cool building on Union Square. When I got home and looked at the pictures I took I suddenly realized that it was the building with the numbers on it from 3x06. On another trip to NYC I went to Roosevelt Island and took a picture of the bridge to Queens, which I liked a lot and set as my desktop background. It wasn't until a few days later that I noticed two industrial pipes near the bridge, which looked a lot like a scene from 5x12, and again it proved to be true.