Giggling, they tumble from the coach, an over-excited crowd of female tourists with just one thing in mind: to stand outside one of the most famous addresses in the whole of New York City. Not the Empire State Building. Not even President Trump’s famous gilded tower on Fifth Avenue.
No, they are here to stare at – and be photographed outside – something more mundane: the traditional front door and stairs (or stoop, as the Americans like to call them) of 66 Perry Street in Manhattan’s fashionable West Village.
For this was the fictional home of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City and, even though it is 16 years since the TV series ended, fascination with the woman who introduced the world to Jimmy Choo stilettos and Cosmopolitan cocktails continues to grow.
What a Carrie on: Sarah Jessica Parker outside the property in the film Sex And The City 2. Fans still flock to the illustrious neighbourhood in New York city despite the iconic TV series sending 16 years ago
It was here on Perry Street, inside a £550- a-month rented apartment, that Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie entertained her lovers – most famously Mr Big – and, of course, her loyal girl gang, including man-eating Samantha, sweet Charlotte and whip-smart lawyer Miranda.
Carrie’s famous walk-in wardrobe, packed with vertiginous Manolo Blahnik heels, Chanel handbags and her favourite Dolce & Gabbana designer gowns, helped popularise a lifestyle of which most viewers could only dream.
No wonder the brownstone buildings are surrounded by tourists armed with cameras and smartphones, all desperate to post selfies from the famous steps on Instagram.
Not that it’s the only location under siege. Whether it is aficionados of US sitcom Friends, or busloads of Poldark enthusiasts, the selfie superfans have changed the face of tourism around the world.
One frustrated Perry Street neighbour told The Mail on Sunday that at least 50 people an hour descend on them in the winter, a figure that quadruples during holidays and the summer.
Pilgrimage: British tourists Louise Joy, Janine and Marlene Last at the famous steps of Carrie Bradshaw's home. They wear wide smiles as they pose outside the £550- a-month rented apartment where Bradshaw entertained her loyal girl gang, including man-eating Samantha, sweet Charlotte and whip-smart lawyer Miranda
No 66 was bought in 1996 – two years before the first Sex And The City episode aired – by businesswoman Barbara Lorber, now 74. Today, the three-storey townhouse is worth £7.5 million. Even so, she might well be regretting the decision to buy. On a chain across the bottom of the steps outside hangs a sign that reads: ‘Do NOT go on the staircase, please.’ Other signs read ‘Private Property’, ‘Please keep your voices down’ and ‘Respect our neighbours’.
But the temptation is all too much for countless tourists, who clamber over the low chain to take a series of Instagrammable selfies.
Why bother with a show that finished in 2004 and feels almost as historic as the building itself?
‘It’s about being single and glamorous in the city,’ explains 30-year-old Samantha White, who has made a pilgrimage from Philadelphia.
‘I identified so much with Carrie and the show. This brought it back for a minute.’
Better behaved visitors stay on the pavement. They include Louise Joy, 45, her sister Janine Last, 40, and their mother, 68-year-old Marlene Last, from Ipswich. ‘We had to pay homage to Carrie Bradshaw,’ grins Louise.
Overstepping the mark: One fan ignores the sign above to get an Instagram shot. Homeowners association president Gerald Banu, who lives nearby, confirms that the cult of the selfie has fuelled this strange new branch of tourism – or ‘nuisance’ to residents
Ms Lorber, who still owns the house, is nowhere to be seen, but a neighbour explains: ‘She gave permission to the show to film here for what I assume was a generous fee. Hollywood pays well. But no one could have foreseen the consequences.’ Pointing to a small donation box that sits to the side of the stairs, the neighbour adds: ‘The owners try to make the best of it by raising money for animal rescues.’
Bizarrely, No 64 is another target for the selfie-hunters because it was the brownstone used for the first three Sex And The City series, before the producers switched to using the grander, more ornate No 66 for the final three seasons, plus two spin-off movies.
At least 50 people descend on to the Perry Street every hour for a cheeky snap in front of the flat, one frustrated neighbour alleged. The building has become almost as historic as the TV series and films
Homeowners association president Gerald Banu, who lives nearby, confirms that the cult of the selfie has fuelled this strange new branch of tourism – or ‘nuisance’ to residents. ‘On a warm day in summer it’s a safety issue,’ adds long-time Perry Street resident Yelena Falk, 54. ‘The street is so jammed you can’t push a child’s buggy on it.’sonos sonos One