21

When James Bond is posing as Peter Franks in Diamonds Are Forever, he can’t help but ask his intriguing cohort Tiffany Case out to dinner. They agree that after their smuggling job is over that they will have dinner in New York at 21 on Friday night.

21 is a historic restaurant located at 21 West 52nd Street in Manhattan. Like Sardi’s it is a hangout for the rich and famous. It was once a speakeasy during Prohibition (never busted) and has been in its current location since 1929.

They talk shop, with Bond discreetly trying to get information from her about her employers, consume several vodka martinis (shaken, and not stirred and with lemon peel) order dinner and Clicquot Rose champagne.

They were interrupted by the arrival of the cutlets, accompanied by asparagus with mousseline sauce, and by one of the famous Kriendler brothers who have owned ’21’ ever since it was the best speak-easy in New York.

“Hello, Miss Tiffany,” he said. “Long time no see. How are things out at Vegas?”

“Hello, Mac.” The girl smiled up at him. “Tiara’s going along okay.” She glanced round the packed room. “Seems your little hot dog stand ain’t doing too badly.”

“Can’t complain,” said the tall young man. “Too much expense-account aristocracy. Never enough pretty girls around. You ought to come in more often.” He smiled at Bond. “Everything all right?”

“Mac” was Maxwell Arnold “Mac” Kriendler. Fleming interjects a real person into the narrative here, likely he had dined at 21 and knew “Mac” from those visits.

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Sardi’s

After James Bond discovers that Felix Leiter has been doing a front tail on him in Manhattan in Diamonds Are Forever, the pair decide to go for lunch and drinks to catch up, having not seen each other since Leiter was brought to The Everglades wrapped in bandages in Live and Let Die.

They moved out on to the street and Bond noticed that Leiter walked with a heavy limp. “In Texas even the fleas are so rich they can hire themselves dogs. Let’s go. Sardi’s is just over the way.”

Leiter avoided the fashionable room at the famous actors’ and writers’ eating house and led Bond upstairs. His limp was more noticeable and he held on to the banisters.

Bond goes to the washroom to clean up a bit, and take stock of his impressions of Leiter. He then returns to the table.

There was a medium dry Martini with a piece of lemon peel waiting for him. Bond smiled at Leiter’s memory and tasted it. It was excellent, but he didn’t recognize the Vermouth.

“Made with Cresta Blanca,” explained Leiter. “New domestic brand from California. Like it?”

“Best Vermouth I ever tasted.”

“And I’ve taken a chance and ordered you smoked salmon and Brizzola,” said Leiter. “They’ve got some of the finest meat in America here, and Brizzola’s the best cut of that. Beef, straight-cut across the bone. Roast and then broiled. Suit you?”

Sardi’s is a world-famous restaurant located near Broadway in Manhattan. It opened in 1927, and is known for the hundreds of caricatures of actors, singers and other show-business figures that line its walls.

The “Brizzola” ordered by Leiter is probably actually “Brizola” which is a rib-eye steak. Bond later concludes that while the Nova Scotia salmon couldn’t compare to his beloved Scottish smoked salmon, the Brizola was all that Leiter said it would be.

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Hotel Astor New York

When James Bond is in New York City as Peter Franks (but traveling as James Bond, if that makes sense) in Diamonds Are Forever, he is booked into the Astor Hotel by the diamond smuggling organization he is working for.

Because of that, unlike in Live and Let Die at the St Regis, Bond does not get the top suite in the hotel, just a standard room. He spends most of a weekend there, including most of the day on Saturday when he sat in his air-conditioned room, avoiding the heat and composing his report.

Tiffany Case is also staying at the Astor, and as Bond leaves her at her door Friday night, she suddenly kisses him and then pushes him away.

In the short story 007 in New York, Bond also stays at the Astor.

The Astor. It was as good as another, and Bond liked the Times Square jungle – the hideous souvenir shops, the sharp clothiers, the giant feedomats, the hypnotic neon signs, one of which said BOND in letters a mile high. Here was the guts of New York, the living entrails.

The Astor was located in what is now Times Square in Manhattan. Built in 1904, it played a large role in making Times Square the center of New York. The hotel operated until 1967 , it was destroyed in 1968 and replaced with a 54 story office building – One Astor Plaza.

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Astor on the right, in the year the Diamonds Are Forever was written
Astor on the right, in the year the Diamonds Are Forever was written. Across the street you can see the BOND sign mentioned in 007 In New York.

Same year, Astor on the left this time.
Same year, Astor on the left this time.  The BOND sign is on the right.

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Undated. You can see the BOND sign on the right in this one, too.

Gandy Bridge/Tampa Airport

Gandy Bridge is a six-mile bridge connecting Tampa with St Petersburg.

James Bond drives across the bridge from St Petersburg to Tampa after his second meeting with The Robber in Live and Let Die.

The original bridge was constructed in 1924 and this was the one on which Bond traveled. Three years after the novel takes place, a second span was added to the bridge. At one time it was the longest bridge in the world.

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Bond enjoys the cool air of the bay on his face, and at the end of the bridge, he turns left towards the Tampa airport, spending the night at the first motel that looked awake. After awaking at midday, he writes his report to the FBI and heads to the airport.

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Tampa Airport in 1952

1952- Bond walked through these doors the following year.
1952- Bond walked through these doors the following year.

Treasure Island, Florida

In Live and Let Die, James Bond and Felix Leiter make their Florida headquarters on Treasure Island, at a place called The Everglades. Treasure Island is next to St. Petersburg, and has been a popular beach area for many years.

Bond describes how he and Solitaire arrived there:

they were checked at the intersection of Park Street and Central Avenue, where the Avenue runs on to the long Treasure Island causeway across the shallow waters of Boca Ciega Bay.


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You can see on the map the intersection of Park and Central which looks like this today.

Bond paid off the cab at The Everglades, a group of neat white-and-yellow clapboard cottages set on three sides of a square of Bahama grass which ran fifty yards down to a bone-white beach and then to the sea. From there, the whole Gulf of Mexico stretched away, as calm as a mirror, until the heat-haze on the horizon married it into the cloudless sky.

They’re assigned to cabin number one – right on the beach.

While this is not The Everglades, it is another group of cottages on Treasure Island from about the same time period.

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When Felix Leiter goes missing one morning, Bond receives a call at The Everglades from a “Dr Roberts” at Mound Park Hospital, saying his friend is there. Bond hurries over.

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The call turns out to be a misdirection play to get Bond away from the cottage.

Here are a few other views of Treasure Island.

Jacksonville Train Station

James Bond briefly visits the city of Jacksonville in Live and Let Die, when he and Solitaire hop off the Silver Phantom train to avoid Mr Big’s men.

The station they would’ve entered at that time would’ve been the Union Terminal, which at one time was the largest railroad station in the south.

The platform which they exited the Silver Phantom would’ve looked like this:

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This photo is from the debut of the Silver Meteor in Jacksonville.

Bond and Solitaire go for a “bad” breakfast at a nearby diner, and then come back.

When they had paid they wandered back to the station waiting-room.

The sun had risen and the light swarmed in dusty bars into the vaulted, empty hall. They sat together in a corner and until the Silver Meteor came in Bond plied her with questions about The Big Man and she could tell him about his operations.

While the building still stands, it is no longer a train station. Here is what the room that Bond and Solitaire likely sat in looks like today.

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Pennsylvania Station, New York

The original Penn Station was built in 1910 and was destroyed in 1963 to make room for the new Madison Square Garden.

In Live and Let Die, it is the setting for Bond and Solitaire’s exit from New York via The Silver Phantom.

After Bond is dropped off at the drive-in by his cab, Bond walked quickly through the glass-covered concourse and through gate 14 down to his train. 

So Bond walks through the glass-covered concourse:

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and finds his gate. Is that the correct 14 there on the right?

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Went down the stairs:

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Down to the track level.

You can get some good footage of this location in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Strangers on a Train.

James Bond in Harlem

In Live and Let Die, James Bond spends an evening in Harlem, accompanied by Felix Leiter.

Harlem is a large neighborhood on the northern section of Manhattan.

After Martinis at the St Regis, they take a bus to Harlem. First stop is Sugar Ray’s which is on Seventh Avenue at 123 Street.

This was a real spot, owned by the boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. Bond and Leiter “walked under the canopy” and slip into a booth.

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This photo is from 1950. For more on Sugar Ray’s check this post from Harlem Bespoke and this article in the New York Times.

Bond and Leiter have Scotch-and-soda – with Haig and Haig Pinchbottle scotch. They listen in on a conversation at a neighboring table – one that is cringe-inducing to read 60 years later.

Next, they go to Ma Frazier’s on Seventh (“further up the avenue” Leiter says) for the “best food in Harlem, or at any rate it used to be.”

The restaurant is “cheerful” and they eat a meal of “Little Neck Clams and Fried Chicken Maryland with bacon and sweet corn.” which Leiter refers to as “the national dish.”

From my limited research, I haven’t found a real Ma Frazier’s in Harlem. This map from about 20 years prior to Bond’s visit points out a few locations mentioned by Fleming and might provide some clues:

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Next to Seventh Avenue, you’ll notice Gladys’ Clam House, and then up a block to the left, you’ll see Tillies, which specialized in fried chicken. I wonder if Fleming based Ma Frazier’s on a couple of places. There could’ve actually been a Ma Frazier’s, but I haven’t found any reference to it. You can see above that they would’ve passed Tillies on their way to the Savoy.

On their third stop of the evening, they hit the Savoy Ballroom.

By the time they left the restaurant it was ten-thirty and the Avenue was almost deserted. They took a cab to the Savoy Ballroom, had a Scotch-and-soda, and watched the dancers.
Most modern dances were invented here,’ said Leiter. ‘That’s how good it is. The Lindy Hop, Truckin’, the Susie Q, the Shag. All started on that floor. Every big American band you’ve ever heard of is proud that it once played here – Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Cab Galloway, Noble Sissle, Fletcher Henderson. It’s the Mecca of jazz and jive.’
They had a table near the rail round the huge floor. Bond was spellbound. He found many of the girls very beautiful. The music hammered its way into his pulse until he almost forgot what he was there for.

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Savoy Ballroom

Savoy Ballroom Vignette (Video featuring interior shots of Savoy)

The Savoy closed in 1958, and was torn down. There is a plaque that marks the location.

Leiter mentions that they won’t be able to go to Small’s Paradise, (real place, remained open until 1986) which you see on the map up on the right, on the other side of Seventh, but they do go into Yeah Man across the street. There isn’t much to be found about this place, which again was a real spot, other than the advice on the map above to “Go late!”

Finally, they end up at The Boneyard, a “small place on Lenox Avenue”, and unfortunately we’re not given more details on the location. Part of me wonders if Fleming based The Boneyard on the Lenox Lounge, a Lenox Avenue landmark that was in its prime during that time.

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It’s a complete guess on my part, but it fits the type of place Fleming was describing.

Glorifried Ham-N-Eggs

“He had a typical American meal at an eating house called ‘Gloryfried Ham-N-Eggs’ (‘The Eggs We Serve Tomorrow Are Still in the Hens’) on Lexington Avenue and then took a cab downtown to police headquarters, where he was due to meet Leiter and Dexter at 2.30.” (‘Live and Let Die,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1963, p. 34)

Apparently Lexington Ave in New York did once house an establishment by this name:

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An interesting website called The Bondologist mentions this passage from Live and Let Die:

James Bond novels that were edited, censored and banned

Another example of the many edits made to LIVE AND LET DIE concerns Fleming’s description of American cuisine. In the fourth chapter of the novel, ‘The Big Switchboard,’ Bond enjoys a meal in the British edition:

“He had a typical American meal at an eating house called ‘Gloryfried Ham-N-Eggs’ (‘The Eggs We Serve Tomorrow Are Still in the Hens’) on Lexington Avenue and then took a cab downtown to police headquarters, where he was due to meet Leiter and Dexter at 2.30.” (‘Live and Let Die,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1963, p. 34)

In the American edition the passage appeared slightly differently:

“He had a typical American meal at a restaurant called ‘Glorifried Ham-N-Eggs’ (‘The Eggs We Serve Tomorrow Are Still on the Farm Today’) on Lexington Avenue and then took a cab downtown to police headquarters, where he was due to meet Leiter and Dexter at two-thirty.” (‘Live and Let Die,’ Ian Fleming, Berkley Books, New York, 1985, p. 30)

In the American version the clever marketing ploy of combining ‘glorified’ with ‘fried’ to make ‘gloryfried’ is changed to ‘glorifried,’ it is described as a ‘restaurant’ and not an ‘eating house’ and the eggs are now advertised as being ‘on the Farm Today’ instead of still being in the hens. The time that Bond was due to meet Felix Leiter and Captain Dexter is also changed from figures in the British edition to words in the American edition. These cultural changes in the American edition were made because clearly the American editors were not nearly as amazed as Fleming – ‘the Englishman abroad’ – was by the different nature of American cuisine and culture. Perhaps they thought such references would be patronising for the American readership, as it would be instantly more familiar to them. It is perhaps ironic that the change was made to the slogan of the American ‘eating house,’ as Fleming, being the brilliant journalistic observer of other countries and cultures that he was, would surely have copied it verbatim from just such a place into his notebook for later use.

I think this might be the other New York location, but might be representative of Bond’s experience:

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Blackbeard’s Treasure on Plum Point NC

One of the main plotlines of Live and Let Die is about treasure coins suddenly flooding the market, and being used to pay for criminal activities.

When James Bond is receiving his briefing from M on the case, the chief tells of a tale about some of the treasure of the Pirate Blackbeard:

‘This Blackbeard story would stand up to most investigations,’ continued M, ‘because there is reason to believe that part of his hoard was dug up around Christmas Day, 1928, at a place called Plum Point. It’s a narrow neck of land in Beaufort County, North Carolina, where a stream called Bath Creek flows into the Pamlico River. Don’t think I’m an expert,’ he smiled, ‘you can read all about this in the dossier. So, in theory, it would be quite reasonable for those lucky treasure-hunters to have hidden the loot until everyone had forgotten the story and then thrown it fast on the market.

Fleming obviously had read about this story and it stuck with him enough to include it in this novel. Notice the wording of this 1936 newspaper account:

This treasure was found buried in the sand at Plum Point, a narrow neck of land in North Carolina, U.S.A., where Bath Creek flows into the Pamlico River.

It seems plausible that Fleming read that very account!

For more on the location and legend of Blackbeard – Historic Bath: Blackbeard the Pirate

Here is Plum Point (The little point jutting out on the right side of the river.):


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