Big cities like New York have long been popular of their own accord, but movies play a special role in making New York a travel aspiration.

“You can’t really be involved in the world of travel without being really profoundly interested in places and what they mean,” said James Sanders, principal of the architectural firm James Sanders + Associates, at Skift Global Forum in September in New York.

Sanders explained that American movies were born in New York in the 1890s before Hollywood became what it is today. In the 1920s, the first dramatic and feature-length films were being made and brought New York to life even more than before. These films were shot on the street, “using the actual fabric of the city as the most amazing show on Earth,” said Sanders.

“Talkies” appeared in the late 1920s, but because New York is so noisy, chaotic, and unpredictable, much filming migrated out to sets in Los Angeles. It was out west that production designers began to create a not-quite-real “dream version of what New York could be,” said Sanders. Then in 1966, New York Mayor John Lindsay made a major push to bring film production back to New York.

Visions of New York in West Side Story and Breakfast at Tiffany’s became permanent fixtures in many travelers’ dreams, followed by darker yet captivating images from Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver, and later, Do The Right Thing. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the television show Sex and the City not only promoted New York as a travel destination, but the filming of the show itself drew tourists.

At the Skift Global Forum 2016 in New York City in September, we heard from CEOs and key executives of travel startups and established brands alike.

Watch the complete talk by James Sanders below in the following video.

Read more coverage of Skift Global Forum 2016

At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation for panels such as this as well as solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2017 events, including our London event in April of 2017.