Escape MoHi: A tour of You've Got Mail throughout the Upper West Side

This is a series with two functions: 1.) It’ll get you out of the MoHi bubble and into the city, and 2.) it’ll give you an excuse to watch movies and not study. Marisa Brown, BC ’17 and adventuring extraordinaire presents Escape MoHi: The You’ve Got Mail Upper West Side tour. Stay tuned next week for the Breakfast at Tiffany’s edition.

Another week, another classic film tour. I’m back, kids, with the second installment of Escape MoHi, and like all good adventurers, this time I brought some friends.

We’re sticking with our gals Nora Ephron and Meg Ryan in this week’s installment. (Last week, we did When Harry Met Sally.) Taking place almost entirely on the west side of Manhattan, You’ve Got Mail hits closer to home (so you don’t have to walk as far!) As an added bonus, this tour will cost you next to nothing and can be completed in one morning.

Anna Alonso / Senior Staff Designer

Before setting out, I recommend watching (or rewatching, depending on your rom com literacy) the movie to absorb all snappy Tom Hanks as Joe Fox and Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelly exchanges. Also special shoutout to Greg Kinnear, Dave Chapelle, and Chris Messina from The Mindy Project. (You get extra points if you can spot Chris Messina. Gave up? Here.)

10:00 a.m. Me and my pals, Veronica Grace Taleon (of Spectrum fame) and Margeaux Biché (of Wake Up Call instagram fame) started our journey by taking the 1 to 72nd Street. Right out of the subway, we hit our laughably convenient first destination.

1. Verdi Square

Proof that I am actually doing these tours 4 realz.

Verdi Square is the small “park” right outside of the the 72nd Street subway station. You can stop by next time you’re headed to Trader Joe’s.

Verdi Square makes its You’ve Got Mail debut towards the end of the film: In this scene, are Kathleen and Joe friends or something much more??? Joe charmingly suggests that they “bump into each other” the following weekend. He then plans a second date with an unsuspecting Kathleen under his AIM alias. Joe, you fox, you.

***Want a bonus destination? Gray’s Papaya is between 71st and 72nd.

2.  The 79th Street Boat Basin

10:30 a.m. Getting here is a tad confusing. You’ll need to walk up to 79th Street and head west into Riverside Park. We passed through the Boat Basin Café, which is accessible via a walking path underneath an overpass. The spot is worth it, though, because it shows up in the movie more than once, is right on the Hudson, and the Boat Basin Café is kind of eerie in a mystical way.

In the movie, this is where Joe keeps his boats, the Fox II and III (“But where is the Fox I???” the movie critics scream in protest). More specifically, it’s where his aunt-child and brother-child are dropped off by his stepmother-lady to be babysat (yeah, kind of confusing—just watch the movie). This is also where Joe sleeps when he breaks it off with his terrible girlfriend, Patricia. (Ugh, Patricia.)

3. Zabar’s

11:00 a.m. You’re probably hungry by now. That’s cool. We got you. Head out of the park and walk west to Broadway, up one block to 80th. You can’t miss Zabar’s.

This particular location is cool to visit because you can hang out in the exact spots certain characters stood. You can also pretend to buy some really expensive cheese and babka.

It’s also the setting for a very relatable scene. Kathleen is trying her very best to avoid Joe, whom she hates at this point in the film. Long story short, she fails to avoid him by causing a scene in the cash-only line when she only has—egad!—a credit card. Many people are pissed off, her cover fails, and general chaos and T-Hankz sassiness ensue.

4. Café Lalo

11:15 a.m. After stopping in Zabar’s, walk up to 83rd Street and head right towards Amsterdam. Café Lalo is near the end of the block.

Café Lalo was the universally agreed upon highlight of the tour. It’s simply a west side treasure.

Margeaux and me candidly enjoy our dainty cafes au lait.

In the movie, this is where Kathleen is stood up by NY152, AIM alias of Joe, who actually shows up but decides not to tell Kathleen he is her secret Intern pal. Kathleen insults him and leaves in a huff, end scene. Confusing, we know.


Unlike Kathleen, though, we had a delightful time. After sampling some fantastic pastries and coffee, we declared Café Lalo our new HW hangout and coffee-sipping spot of choice.

5. 91st Street Garden

12:00 p.m. Head back up Broadway until you hit 91st Street, and then walk west back to Riverside. You’ll stumble upon this lovely garden, which is the setting of the film’s final scene.

Me paying homage to this pivotal moment.

This scene is great, because Kathleen tells Joe she really wanted him to be NY152, even though she rejected his advances just hours before. Mixed messages much?

While I wait for my real life Joe to appear, at least I’ll always have this beautiful boulder.

I think we can all safely assume that Kathleen, Joe, and (most importantly) dog, Brinkley, lived happily ever after. Veronica, Margeaux, and I headed back up to MoHi to crush Sunday HW.

Final thoughts...

  • We did this trip in two subway rides: From 116th to 72nd and then from 96th to 116th. You can do it in one, or, if you’re up for walking, you don’t have to spend a cent.
  • Cost was therefore $0 to $5.50.
  • If you can’t do the whole tour, just go to Café Lalo.

Marisa Brown is a Spectrum staff writer and Barnard senior. She is enjoying making a complete fool of herself while writing this series. Reach her at

All photos and gifs courtesy gif-master Veronica Grace Taleon. Except for the one of You’ve Got Mail, of course. That’s from


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