“The Seven Year Itch” Subway Grate, New York City, NY

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On a September night in 1954, one of the most iconic scenes in American cinema was filmed at this location for the movie “The Seven-Year Itch.” In the film, Marilyn Monroe and her co-star are leaving a theatre when she hears a subway train coming and utters, “Oh, do you feel the breeze from the subway? Isn’t it delicious?” As she steps on the subway grate, her sexy white pleated halter dress billows up around her revealing, well, a lot for the 1950s.

The scene was shot at 1 a.m., but that didn’t keep thousands of fans away from the New York City street. Monroe’s husband, Joe DiMaggio, was present for the filming and reportedly wasn’t too happy about his wife’s display. The couple was divorced shortly thereafter. The film’s director, Billy Wilder, had to reshoot the scene numerous times because of crowd noise. Eventually, the street was replicated back in Hollywood and the scene was reshot. Many sources say this was Wilder’s plan all along and that the New York City filming was a publicity stunt.

This image of Monroe has become part of her legacy and is recognized by several generations. One poll rated it as the No. 1 most iconic fashion moment of all time. It has been replicated in films, photos, sculpture, and even dolls (you can have your own Barbie® version for $100 at Amazon.com!). The movie’s costume designer, William Travilla, stored the dress after Monroe died and it wasn’t seen again until after his death. Eventually, legendary actress Debbie Reynolds bought it for her Hollywood Motion Picture Museum. She referred to it as “the most famous costume of all” (Reynolds’ comments begin at 1:55). When the museum went bankrupt, the dress was auctioned for $4.6 million in 2011.

Oddly enough, Monroe’s pose of the white dress blowing up around her waist was not even in the film; it was considered too racy for the time. Only her legs and facial reactions are shown.  Visited April 2015.

Location: On Lexington Avenue at the southwest corner of the intersection with 52nd Street, in front of Le Relais de Veniuse, a French restaurant (look for the red awnings)