As I mentioned a billion times before, Billions is a dream show for me not only because my favorite actor is in it, but also because New York, from its landmarks to its city parks and to its quirky shops, appears as a cast member in the show! As someone who feels the only home she has in the world is the city that never sleeps, I particularly love it that Billions is taking over New York, the BIG film studio that it is, and shooting all over the place, from Manhattan to Queens to Brooklyn to The Bronx to Long Island and to northern suburbs. So I have put together this Billions Season 5 Location Guide as a loving tribute to my most favorite place on earth and a heartfelt thank you to the show creators for writing a love letter to the city.
Hope you pick and choose and take your own Billions tour in New York City and beyond and give us feedback – especially if you know about a location that is missing in this post! Oh, and in case you missed Fan Fun locations guide for the previous seasons, you can check them out here, here, here, and here. And please note that show staples like Axe Capital HQ, Chuck’s State AG office, Chuck Senior’s apartment were all listed in previous seasons when they first appeared. ENJOY!
Episode 1: The New Decas
One of the high peaks, of the Adirondack Mountains, Whiteface Mountain is the fifth-highest mountain in New York state. The mountain is a major ski area, run by the Olympic Regional Development Authority, that is consistently ranked as one of the top ski resorts in the Northeast. Whiteface was a prime venue of the 1980 Winter Olympics, hosting all six of the alpine ski events. The ski center regularly hosts major alpine ski events and is also a U.S. Olympic Training Site.
Whiteface Mountain Ski Center and the Veterans Memorial Highway climbing to the top of the mountain pass off as the Shaman Retreat Axe and Wags stay and the Alaska – Canada highway on which they ride their BMW motorbikes, respectively, in Billions.
And I think Damian was impressed by the natural beauty in the area that he tweeted from his morning stroll in Lake Placid.
Strolled in Lake Placid this morning. pic.twitter.com/INEWvpFa8C
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) November 1, 2019
Well, the spectacular venue where Chuck Senior has his lavish wedding is obviously a landmark building!
Weylin B. Seymour’s building was opened in 1875 by the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. And while we only see the interiors in the show, it is really worth a look from outside as well.
Here is what New York Times says about the landmark building: ““As sumptuous as a jewel box suspended 110 feet over the mosaic marble floor, and as radiant as a peacock’s plumage, the great dome of the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank headquarters at Broadway and Driggs Avenue once again inspires awe.” Indeed.
Note that this is the second appearance of “The Weylin” in Billions. The Big Apple Circus both Axe and Chuck attend as VIP guests and chat with the Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira in Season 1 Episode 8 Boasts and Rails was also shot here.
Lightbox – NY
The studio where the Vanity Fair “The New Decas” photo shoot takes place and that we “meet” Mike Prince for the first time in Billions is Lightbox – NY, a photo/film studio housed in the historic American Bank Note Building in the Bronx. The venue offers 10,000 square feet of raw industrial space featuring beautiful arched windows as well as five bays of skylights that bring in beautiful natural light. I am not sure if the studio is still active because their website is not working.
Central Park Bike Ride
Central Park Bike Ride at 203 West 58th Street is a Bike Rent NYC business that serves the tourists as well as the locals with daily bike rentals, guided bike tours of Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge, and daily, monthly and annual “hop-on, hop-off” biking programs. And, interestingly Chuck finds Taylor at Central Park Bike Tours not renting a bike but swimming in place! 😀
Corner of Lexington Avenue and 48th Street
Mike Prince and his right-hand man Scooter get a phone call from Axe as they are staying in the car at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 48th Street. Axe “congratulates” Prince for making the solo cover of Vanity Fair and lets him know that he will join Prince at his annual The Mike conference.
They probably film the interior scenes at a studio but the exterior of the brownstone at 49 8th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn is the stand-in for Rhoades’ dream brownstone in Brooklyn Heights – which Wendy left at the end of Season 4.
And Bobby Axelrod of all people knocks on Chuck’s door in this episode to give Chuck back his first edition WWII volumes, along with a message that the world is not a happy place when the two of them do not get along well!
Episode 2: The Chris Rock Test
The only seaplane terminal on Manhattan, Skyport Sea Terminal is where we see Mike Prince and his dog taking off in a seaplane to go to The Mike, the annual conference named after its organizer, held upstate New York!
Well, Google Earth rocks! I had two clues on this one: I knew that (i) they had Billions signs around Park Avenue and East 69th Street during Episode 2 shoot and (ii) Dr. Rutenberg’s EMDR therapy practice was Number 174. So I checked Google Earth for alternative side streets and… Voila!
Probably shot on the same day with the scene in Dr. Rutenberg’s office, this scene is where we have Chuck and Kate talk about Chuck reading Dexter these days. The protagonist may be a serial killer but he has a code – he kills for the “right reasons” and so will Chuck: For justice! He wants Kate to make sure Chuck kills by the code.
Founded by the Smiley Family in 1869, Mohonk Mountain House is a historic landmark resort in New Paltz, New York. The Victorian castle resort is located in a beautiful natural setting, 40,000 acres of forest, and as the most iconic spa resort in the Hudson Valley, it offers farm-to-table cuisine and an award-winning spa. No wonder why Mike Prince is holding his annual The Mike conference at Mohonk Mountain House where his esteemed guests will have a princely retreat!
A new 1.5 mile park and esplanade along the East River, the East River Waterfront Esplanade joins the southern tip of Manhattan and East River Park giving New Yorkers waterfront access.
Chuck and Taylor meet at a section of the esplanade in Lower Manhattan that has a spectacular view of the Brooklyn Bridge lit at night as well as the new WELCOME sign, which replaced the decades old Watchtower sign in 2019, that greets people as they cross the Brooklyn Bridge.
Episode 3: Beg, Bribe, Bully
The exterior scene for Skinner Prep Academy, the fancy co-ed college prep school where Gordie causes a power outage as he launches a bitcoin farm, was shot at Trinity-Pawling School, an an all-boys college prep school located in the Hudson Valley, about 60 miles from NYC.
Thanks to Billions fan and our reader Josie (@hoge56) we now know that the interior scenes at Skinner Prep Academy, Gordie’s school, were shot at Webb Institute, a private undergraduate engineering college in Glen Cove, New York. Founded in 1889 by the industrialist William Henry Webb, who was a preeminent shipbuilder, the institute, to this day, has educated students in naval architecture and marine engineering.
Founded in 1701, Yale University is a private Ivy League university in New Haven, Connecticut. It is the third-oldest and one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the nation.
In Billions, both Chuck and Chuck Senior are Yale graduates. And as Chuck is talking to the Dean of the Yale Law School about returning to his Alma Mater to teach a Criminal Law class, we see aerial shots of the beautiful Yale campus.
Episode 4: Opportunity Zone
Google Earth ROCKS! When you have the number 23 on the house and are able to read Chestnut Street in the background as Axe and Savion are hanging out at the basketball hoop (which Billions seems to have added to the alley next to the house) you have the exact location of Bobby Axelrod’s childhood home in Yonkers!
The Summit NYC is a luxurious rental high rise in Midtown East that is offering a number of amenities including The Arena: a sports center with state-of-the-art equipment that includes spin bikes, strength machines and cardio, a full basketball court and an aquatic center with a heated lap pool, hot tub, sauna and steam rooms.
Mike Prince is playing one-on-one basketball with Dominique “Human Highlight Film” Wilkins at the Arena when Scooter comes in to let the boss know that he needs to play another one-on-one in Yonkers when he is done here 😀
Well, the studio Axe arranged for Tanner first appears in Episode 3 but I am listing it here since I have been able to figure out the location, after some forensic research, during Wendy’s first visit to the studio to motivate the artist to start painting already!
The only clue I had about the studio is the fire escape stairs mounted on the outside of the building across the street – which tells me that this building is probably located in Soho where such fire escape stairs are a signature part of the architecture. And as Tanner and Wendy stand in the studio, you notice a sign in front of the building… and when googled what I could decipher “Despana” I got this!!! The windows behind the store sign should be where Tanner is creating Implosion-style paintings for Axe!
When Axe has to partner with a diversity business leader with a clean track record immediately, we find him in his tennis attire playing against Franklin Sacker who seems to be a Nadal fan (notice Nadal’s logo on his baseball cap!). The thing is that what Axe and Mr. Sacker are playing is not regular tennis but court tennis also known as real tennis and sometimes referred to as “the sport of kings” because it is the original racquet game from which the modern game of tennis (initially called “lawn tennis”) came about. Henry VIII was a big fan of court tennis and Mary Queen of Scots played regularly!
There are currently about 50 active court tennis courts in the world. The Racquet and Tennis Club of NY is the only place in NYC with two courts dedicated to court tennis so I am assuming Axe and Franklin Sacker are playing at this exclusive private clubhouse. Established in 1876, the Racquet and Tennis Club moved to its current home, a designated city historical landmark since 1979, on Park Avenue in 1918. It turns out that the club is still keeping its “men only” membership which I find outrageous!
Harlem Parish was established in 1889 to serve immigrant groups. Its interior is noted for its finely-detailed neo-Gothic facade, remarkable fan vaulting and celebrated German stained glass. Harry Belanfonte’s family worshipped in this church, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is said to have beeen baptized here!
Well, Abdul-Jabbar is not the only VIP that was baptized in this church. Harlem Parish is the stand-in for Ember of Harlem – where Wags is baptized by little Georgie 😀
A unique and beautiful venue, the ceremonial courtroom in Yonkers City Hall is where Chuck Senior, Mike Prince and Axe pitch to take the opportunity zone project in the City of Yonkers.
Axe, in fact, starts to explain why he is the right guy to take on the Opportunity Zone project in the City of Yonkers in the ceremonial courtroom but then he takes everyone outside the City Hall to tell them that he can see the future of Yonkers because he knows all about its past.
And it seems Bobby Axelrod has some fans at the City Hall. Here is Damian on set posing with the Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano!
One of New York’s absolute jewels, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a huge complex of buildings on the Upper West Side. The Center houses nationally and internationally renowned twelve performing arts organizations including the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York City Ballet and hosts 5 millions visitors every year.
We see Mike Prince, who seems to be attending a black tie event at Lincoln Center, giving Axe a call, an insulting one, before going in.
Episode 5: Contract
This one required a bit of forensic research on my part when it appeared in Season 2 Finale Ball in Hand, but it was easy to spot when it appeared again in this episode. Cafe Billiards Club, aptly situated in Yonkers, is yet another staple from Bobby Axelrod’s early life, and now he takes Savion here for a round of billiards as well as a conversation about contract!
Lower Hudson News reports that Billions shot a car crash scene on Cedar Street, Yonkers.
So we see Axe’s car, earlier in the day driving on Elm Street and turning left on Cedar Street with the Yonkers Water Tower in the background. As he looks at his mom’s Lexus, which she gave to his dad, Axe makes a few calls…
…and has the destroyed Lexus dumped in front of his dad’s house later in the evening! And after this much research I am confident I can now find my way around Yonkers! 🙂
Episode 6: The Nordic Model
Axe arrives at The Summit NYC, a luxurious rental high rise in Midtown East, where Chuck greets him! The Summit passes as the entrance to the building where Axe’s spare apartment that Wendy temporarily lives and that Axe converts into a museum later in the episode is located.
I use the word “supposedly” because I am quite positive that the interior scenes are not shot in this building. The Summit NYC has very modern apartments while Axe’s spare apartment has an elegant pre-war feel.
As a side note, The Summit is appearing for a second time in Billions this season. We also have Mike Prince playing a one-on-one basketball game with Dominique Wilkins in the Arena, the sports center of The Summit NYC, in Episode 4 Opportunity Zone.
Episode 7: The Limitless Sh*t
Located at 33 Liberty Street in the Financial District of New York, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York aka New York Fed is the largest, most active and most influential of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks in the United States. The Fed has a vault that lies 80 feet below street level By 1927, the vault contained 10% of the world’s official gold reserves.[
Once Chuck and Kate use the B3 Bomber Trick from Wag the Dog on Krakow about an on-going investigation at the cabinet level, Krakow loses it at a meeting with other cabinet members at the NY Fed:
“I will not be part of a criminal enterprise.”
To be continued…