National Treasure is a 2004 mystery action film. It stars Nicholas Cage as Ben Gates, a historian who ends up on a search for treasure. The movie features a number of historic American locations, which are part of the treasure hunt.
Much of the movie takes place in Washington DC, but also visits Philadelphia and New York City. Most of the locations seen in the movie were filmed on location at the actual sites.
J Edgar Hoover Building
After a short flashback to 1974, we see Ben and his friend Riley looking for an artifact in a snowy arctic location. After this scene, the movie goes to Washington DC and we see Ben and Riley exiting the J Edgar Hoover Building. This fortified building is the FBI headquarters.
Due to the delicate nature of the Declaration of Independence and other documents on display, the production couldn’t film inside the display room. They built a replica on a soundstage which allowed them to film the theft. Due to the same rule, I wasn’t able to take photos inside, but took some of the outside.
US Navy Memorial Plaza
Outside of the Archives, we see Riley walking through the US Navy Memorial Plaza. He goes to the escalators which lead down to the Archives Metro Station.
Ben and Riley visit the Lincoln Memorial to discuss their plans to steal the Declaration. We see shots of the large Lincoln statue, as well as the Reflecting Pool.
Library of Congress
The characters briefly visit the Library of Congress to do some research. The production was allowed to film inside the building as well. If you have the chance, it’s a very interesting location to go and visit. The building is beautiful, and the main library atrium is stunning. I was fortunate to visit in December when it was decorated for Christmas.
Washington DC Establishing Shots
National Treasure includes a number of locations in Washington DC as establishing shots. These include the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial. There are also several shots of the Capitol Building. We see it as the characters speed away from the National Archives.
Ben’s Father’s House
The characters drop in on Ben’s father at his home. While the house is meant to be in the DC area, it’s actually located across the country in Pasadena, California. The house address is at 1030 Buena Vista Street.
Benjamin Franklin National Memorial
The story next moves to Philadelphia, as they visit the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. While the characters go inside the building, I didn’t have a chance to visit inside when I was there. I did get some photos of the exterior, however.
Across the street, Riley sits in Aviator Park to monitor the building. It’s here where he convinces a child to go in and get the clues he needs. He sits on a stone bench in the park, which is still there.
Ben and his team visit the Liberty Bell, which is located in a visitor centre in Independence National Historical Park. The centre includes a number of displays and culminates in a viewing area to see the Liberty Bell itself.
The team discovers that the clues lead them to Independence Hall. They head up to the roof where they discover a pair of special glasses hidden behind a brick. They then head to the Assembly Room, which is where the Declaration of Independence was signed on August 2, 1776. National Treasure did not film in this room, but they did build a very accurate recreation on a soundstage.
The team continues to New York City, and Ben goes to the Intrepid Museum. He is chased by the authorities before jumping into the Hudson River.
The Intrepid is a former aircraft carrier which now operates as a museum. In addition to the actual carrier, there are a number of other aircraft on display, including a Concorde and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.
The clues finally lead the team to Trinity Church in downtown Manhattan. We see the church exteriors as the characters head inside. The interior scenes were not filmed here, however, but at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. The underground scenes were filmed on a set.