Pottermore Explores Inspiration for “Fantastic” Interiors

We’ve already seen glimpses of Queenie and Tina Goldstein’s New York apartment in the teaser trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Now, the Pottermore Correspondent is taking fans inside the Tenement Museum, located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, to show where the crew of Fantastic Beasts gained their inspiration for many of the film’s interiors.

The Pottermore Correspondent starts off by revealing that, in August of 2015, director David Yates “took some of his creative team on a top-secret reconnaissance mission to New York,” where they were able to gather ideas. One snag that the team faced, however, was that today’s New York and the New York of 1926 (the year in which Fantastic Beasts is set) are very different. This is what led them to the Tenement Museum.

The Pottermore Correspondent writes,

The Tenement Museum [is] a five-storey high building of 20 apartments in which immigrants would once have lived. Walk into the right apartment, and it’s like time traveling back to the 1920s.

The museum, according to its website, features “restored apartments and businesses of past residents and merchants from different time periods.” The Pottermore Correspondent provides photos of some of the apartments and adds,

On the set of Fantastic Beasts, the influence of this place and this trip is obvious. The exterior of Jacob’s apartment could be modeled directly on one of these tenement apartment buildings. The red-brick walls of the Goldsteins’ apartment are just right. The little row of shops at the bottom of the residential buildings is accurate to the time. The production design team imported details of a bygone era to their own set impeccably – any historian would be spellbound.

Annie Pollard, historian and vice president for education and programs at the Tenement Museum, also spoke to the PMC about the historical importance of tenement buildings:

If you tell someone’s story through a tenement building, you get to immerse people in the immigrants’ daily lives, as opposed to a place like Ellis Island, where you can visit and see what the first few hours of arriving might’ve been like.

She adds,

If you’re looking at a tenement, you’re looking at longer-running issues of what it’s like to adapt to a new country, what it’s like to find work, what it’s like to weather economic depressions, what it’s like to rebuild your culture. So all of those longer[-]term questions can be examined in a tenement, where immigrants actually lived.

Pollard also discusses 1926 specifically, saying,

In 1926, when your movie is set, New York is not as crowded as it has been.

Immigration laws put in place by the government in 1924, she explains, were partially responsible for the shift.

Naturally, the Pottermore Correspondent had to ask how an English gentleman would have been treated. When told that he wouldn’t have experienced “any real animosity or discrimination,” the PMC humorously wrote,

I decided not to tell Annie at this stage that the young English gentleman is actually a wizard called Newt Scamander and he’s carrying a suitcase of creatures. She’ll find out in November.

Are you excited to see the Fantastic Beasts sets come to life? Will you be planning a trip to the Tenement Museum?