For generations, the Big Apple has been ripe for romance. In honor of Valentine’s Day, NewYork.com has combed through photo archives to showcase some of the most romantic shots from the city’s storied past — both on film and from everyday life — and then asked readers to recreate the sultry scenes. Never ones to back down from a challenge, our followers grabbed their cameras and hit the streets to recreate these famous photos with their own flair. The results are below. Feeling inspired? Tag your best shots on Twitter or Instagram with #lovethenandnowNYC.
V-J Day in Times Square
Perhaps one of the most famous smooches of all time was snapped in Times Square in the aftermath of the U.S. victory over Japan in 1945. Alfred Eisenstaedt took the iconic shot of a serviceman planting one on a nurse published in Life magazine, and many more photographers captured similar scenes of that day, like the one from Victor Jorgensen, above. These photos captured moment of joy and release that people across the country connected with after many years of war-time anxiety. Today’s lovebirds can take to Times Square to recreate this romantic moment — don your ‘40s best and don’t forget the dip to capture the spirit of this sweet, spontaneous moment.
Debbie Harry and Chris Stein kissing in the subway
Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were partners on and off the stage in 1970s New York when this intimate photo was snapped by their photographer friend Roberta Bayley against the blur of the subway. Taken in 1976, the same year their band Blondie debuted an album to great success, this photo has a timeless New York quality to it. To recreate the shot, throw on some neutral colors, tousle your hair, and head to a subway station and wait for a train to rumble by. Once the cars are in motion, lock lips and have a friend snap away.
Bridge scene from Manhattan
Shot completely in black and white, the Woody Allen film Manhattan is a love letter to New York City — one that’s strikingly set to a Gershwin score. The city streets, bridges and parks are captured so beautifully, in fact, that the city feels like a character in the film. The above scene with Allen and Diane Keaton sitting beneath the Queensboro Bridge is one of the film’s most iconic. Recreate this photo in silhouette by snagging a bench beneath the bridge early on a misty day — extra points for mimicking body language and 1970s style haircuts.
Ice cream scene from Serendipity
Are romantic comedies somehow more heartwarming when they take place in New York City? The 2001 romantic comedy Serendipity, starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack, includes a scene eating ice cream at Serendipity 3 during the Christmas season. This interaction sparks the rest of the film — ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park, and everything that comes after. This photo is a particularly delicious one to recreate. Sit across from your main squeeze at Serendipity 3 and order that famous frozen hot chocolate. Lean in for a sip, lock eyes and have the moment captured while the glasses are still mostly full.
Proposal scene from Sleepless in Seattle
Inspired by the 1957 film An Affair to Remember, Sleepless in Seattle brings to fruition the climactic Empire State Building scene that fails to occur between Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. This 1993 romantic comedy written by Nora Ephron and starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan secures the rooftop of this landmark as an iconic destination for grand romantic gestures. Wait until after dark and jump into the elevator at the Empire State Building to recreate this photo — don’t forget the teddy bear and small child.
John and Yoko in Greenwich Village
Like many couples before them, and many couples after them, John Lennon and Yoko Ono took an afternoon stroll arm-in-arm along Bank Street — they just managed to do so with incredible style and in the presence of a photographer. Taken on a fall day in 1972, this breezy snapshot captures the artistic duo in a lovingly casual moment. Channel your best John and Yoko and head to Greenwich Village to recreate this photo; sunglasses are mandatory to complete the look.
The most recent photographed moment on this list doesn’t come from a movie at all, but it does capture a momentous occasion in New York City — a same-sex kiss in front of a backdrop of City Hall at the Manhattan City Clerk’s Office on the first day the Marriage Equality Act went into effect, July 24, 2011. After legally marrying, Daniel Mackey and Dennis Josue shared a state-sanctioned celebratory smooch as so many heterosexual couples have before them. While you’ll need to marry to pose in front of the backdrop, you can recreate this photo in front of City Hall by dressing up in your finest and centering the domed tower between your heads.
Get more ideas for what to do on Valentine’s Day in New York City.