The True Star Of Only Murders In The Building? The Building
I'm ready to move in.
Only Murders In The Building is a true New York City mystery. Set in a palatial Upper West Side art deco-era apartment building (the kind that now costs literally millions to live in), three residents attempt to solve the suspicious death of Tim Kono, a young financier who also happened to be a longtime tenant of the residence. But it’s not just the residents who star in this series. The building itself is a significant character, and its units (and their layouts) play an essential part in the story. But is the Arconia from Only Murders In The Building a real place fans can go visit, or even live in, if they have the funds?
Warning: Spoilers for Only Murders In the Building Episodes 1 through 3 follow. The three residents in this series who band together to solve the murder of Kono have long histories in the Arconia, even though they only are just getting to know each other when the story starts. Steve Martin plays Charles, a onetime TV actor who hasn’t had a successful hit since his 1990s-era police procedural. Martin Short plays Oliver, a Broadway producer who went bankrupt after his baby, Splash: The Musical, flopped. Both of them have lived in the building for decades. As Oliver remarks to their much younger compatriot, Mabel (Selena Gomez), they purchased their units when the building was affordable. That makes Mabel a bit of an outlier. How does a young 20-something struggling artist live in one of the largest units in the fancy building? Better yet, how does she know the different apartments so well? And most importantly, how big are her mortgage payments?
These are questions we don’t quite know the answer to. But what we do know is that the Arconia isn’t a real building in New York. However, it seems to be based on one of New York City’s famous Upper West Side buildings, the Ansonia.
Built during the height of the Gilded Age at the turn of the last century, the Ansonia, like the Arconia, was designed to be a residential hotel, with 3,000 rooms where residents lived in luxurious suites with high ceilings, giant windows, and gorgeous views. Like the Arconia, it boasted genuine celebrity residents — including, reportedly, Babe Ruth, Angelina Jolie, and Macaulay Culkin.
However, Only Murders in the Building wasn’t filmed at the Ansonia. Instead, the show used the Apthorp Building, a condominium complex that stretches down Broadway from 78th to 79th Street on the Upper West Side. It, too, is a historic building that was built in the 1900s and has sported celebrity residents. It was also built in an A-D layout, which the series references as the characters sneak into different units. (Bunny, a fellow resident, has an A layout, for example.)
If you’re wondering just how much a unit in the Apthorp would go for in 2021, that answer is in the $6.5 million range. No wonder Mabel’s ability to live in the Arconia is one of the most suspicious things about her.
Only Murders In The Building drops new episodes weekly every Tuesday on Hulu.