Was 'The Sopranos' Filmed In Westchester or New Jersey?

Plus Yankee Doodle disses, and undocumented in the 914.

Holding a Grudge

Q: Recently, NPR did a story on George M. Cohan and talked about how he wrote “Over There” while on the train from New Rochelle to New York City and that he wrote Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway about New Rochelle. Is there anything in the city that acknowledges or commemorates that? — Nathan Ziegler, New Rochelle

A: No, there isn’t a George M. Cohan monument in New Rochelle like there is in Times Square, in the triangle between 45th and 47th Streets. In fact, when the play premiered, folks in New Rochelle weren’t all that enthusiastic about how their city was depicted. The May 1914 issue of Reel Life ran an uncredited article that started off with:

“New Rochelle has never forgiven George M. Cohan for the slurs contained in Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway. Either there has been a great change for the better since the song came out nine years ago or George M. had the town all wrong in the first instance. For New Rochelle certainly has no “jay atmosphere,” and the “fine bunch of Reubens” was decidedly not in evidence during the writer’s recent visit to the Thanhouser studios. Instead, we found Main Street quite as desirable as Broadway and the beautiful residential district much more attractive than the cave dwellings of Manhattan.”

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Apparently, Mr. Cohan’s humorous descriptions of New Rochelle as being far less sophisticated than Broadway did not sit well with some of the citizenry.



Q: A friend and I have a bet. He says that much of The Sopranos was shot in Westchester County, instead of in New Jersey. I say he’s crazy. Please settle. — Mark Tangredi, Yonkers

A: It depends how you define “much.” Most of the show was, like you contend, shot in New Jersey. Many scenes were filmed in Harrison, NJ, not Harrison, NY, and maybe that was the cause of your paesan’s confusion. 

The Sopranos did dip into Westchester a few times, however, both physically and topically. In the series’ fourth season, the Ceremonial Courtroom in Yonkers was used as a location for multiple courtroom scenes. Also in Season 4, Episode 10, there was an intervention for Christopher’s drug abuse in which he recognizes the intervention mediator as the one who’d once stolen pork loins from Stew Leonard’s. In the series’ fifth season, there is an episode in which Carmela yells that she doesn’t want her son, A.J., to end up “like those kids in Westchester.”

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The Sopranos enveloped our county into its casting landscape, as well. Actor Lillo Brancato, who played the ill-fated (but who wasn’t ill-fated on that show?) character Matt Bevilaqua for a handful of Season 2 episodes, hails from Yonkers.

Otherwise, The Sopranos (unfortunately) tended to stay on its side of the bridges and tunnels.


Asset or Liability?

Q: I read a quote from a New York Farm Bureau spokesman who said that the ICE raids rounding up illegal aliens would take a severe toll on farmers. Since we don’t have many farmers in the county, does that mean there are fewer illegal immigrants here? This has to be a drain on our economy, right? — Larry Corbin, Pelham

A: According to Migration Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan think tank, 61,000 people living in Westchester County are undocumented. We have a population of approximately 974,000 people, so that’s around 6%. In comparison, Bronx County has about 8%, Nassau 3.5%, and Suffolk 3.4%.

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Neighbors Link, an organization whose mission is the healthy integration of immigrants, claims that the labor demands for  low-wage domestic work (especially in two-income families), landscaping, construction work, restaurant jobs, and the service industry have attracted them to our region.

Are they a drain on our economy? The Federation for American Immigration Reform says that undocumented immigrants cost New York taxpayers $9.5 billion a year. However, each year in New York State, according to Neighbors Link, undocumented immigrants kick in over $1 billion in state and local taxes. Undocumented immigrants also contribute about $12 billion each year to the Social Security Administration, without ever getting any benefits from the program.

Have a question about the county? Email edit@westchestermagazine.com with the subject line: Any Questions?

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