Gossip Girl, Decoded: A Teenager Translates Fiction to Fact

For most of us, the universe of the Gossip Girl books can be a little mysterious. What is the meaning of all these places—the pizza shop, the 79th Street bus, that glam-sounding bar—that get name-checked so casually? We know from executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage that they’re using an amalgam of actual N.Y.C. school exteriors (Brooklyn’s Packer Collegiate Institute and the actual Upper East Side’s Russian Orthodox Synod of Bishops) in the television show, but which fancy-pants school in the book is supposed to be which? We turned to our savvy observer, Nell Auchincloss, 14, for help in translating the books’ fantasy New York world to the real one. Here’s one ninth grader’s guess at what’s what in Gossip Girl:

  • The Star Lounge in the Tribeca Star Hotel is really the Grand Bar at the Soho Grand Hotel.

  • The 3 Coffee Shop, where characters snack on hot chocolate and French fries, is the 3 Guys Restaurant at Madison and 75th, where actual kids snack on hot chocolate and French Fries.
  • Riverside Prep is actually the Collegiate School for boys on West 78th Street.
  • The 79th Street crosstown bus through Central Park is name-checked for being a usual way of transport for Eastside boys on their way to Collegiate.

  • J. Sisters salon (best known for bringing the Brazillian to New York) on West 57th—it’s the hot spot for high-school hair.
  • The “little pizza joint on the corner” is New Town Pizza on 78th and Broadway, where Collegiate boys are known to lunch. Constance Billard, an all-girls private school, is a stand-in for Nightingale-Bamford on East 92nd Street.
  • The Madison Avenue bus, headed for The Cloisters, is noted for being crammed with private-school kids each morning.