New York City
General Information


Character Affiliations
Show Information
First appearance


Latest appearance

Darkness on the Edge of Town


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New York City is a Land Without Magic location featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the first episode of the second season.


During First Curse

In Portland, Oregon, Neal reluctantly gives up on having a future with his girlfriend, Emma, after he is approached by August, who stresses the importance of a greater destiny Emma has to finish. He follows August's advice, and allows Emma to be arrested and sent to a jailhouse in Phoenix for stealing watches. He runs away to Canada, and then to New York City. ("Tallahassee")

About eleven years later, Neal once again meets up with August, who has just arrived to New York from overseas. August states due to the fact he is turning back into wood, he must help convince Emma to break a curse so he himself can return to normal. Neal expresses doubt Emma would want to see him again after everything is done with, and is not pleased with the thought of his father regaining his memories and coming to look for him. Before heading off to Storybrooke where Emma is currently located, August promises to send him a postcard when the curse is broken. Both remain unaware a stranger, Tamara, has been eavesdropping on their conversation from a few feet away, and watching their interaction through a compact mirror. She straightens herself up and deliberately walks into Neal as he is turning after August has left on his motorcycle. Her hot cup of coffee spills all over her front shirt, and she exclaims in feigned surprise at the mess. Neal apologizes, and gives her his scarf to help cover up the stains. She thanks him, and from the brief interaction they exchange numbers. Later, Tamara calls him back and they hit it off. They date, and eventually after an unknown period of time, become engaged. ("Selfless, Brave and True")

After First Curse

The day after Emma breaks the curse, Neal walks home to his apartment and receives a postcard--per August's promise--from Storybrooke, Maine with just one word written on it: "Broken". ("Broken")

Some time later, Emma, Henry and Mr. Gold arrive at an apartment complex in Manhattan. Via a magic globe, the building pinpoints Mr. Gold's son Baelfire's current location. Upon entering the lobby, none of the residents' names mean a great deal to Mr. Gold, so Emma uses her "people finder" skills and settles on room 407, which has no written name on the intercom panel. When she rings it, Emma pretends to be delivering a UPS package. Suddenly, the intercom shuts off abruptly and all three see a man jumping down from the fire escape and running away. She corners him by taking a shortcut in the alley, but they both knock heads. Emma is stunned to see the man is her ex-boyfriend Neal. She starts to believe Neal have been tricking her this whole time, starting from when they first met eleven years ago to now with Mr. Gold's deal. Neal doesn't understand until she blurts out the former name of his father, Rumplestiltskin. Back at the apartment complex, Mr. Gold buys Henry a hot dog as they discuss the current situation. Henry is certain Emma will catch up to Mr. Gold's son. He also thanks the older man for bringing Emma to Storybrooke, so everything thus far has been possible. Meanwhile, at a bar, Neal admits the real reason he left Emma all those years ago, which was due to August's insistence that she was needed to break the curse. While he thinks their prior relationship was one of fate, she sees nothing good that came out of it. She returns the keychain he once gave her, stating that it is a reminder not to trust anyone again. Emma agrees to not allow Mr. Gold to find him. She leaves, and calls Mary Margaret for advice on whether or not to tell Henry about Neal. Emma arrives back, and lies to Mr. Gold about his son having gotten away. Unwilling to settle for that, Mr. Gold angrily buzzes each intercom call button until the door to upstairs unlocks. He pick locks room 407, and inside, Emma notices a dream catcher, which she remembers Neal having from the years they spent together, which perks Mr. Gold's suspicion. Though she denies knowing anything, Mr. Gold begins threatening her. She sends Henry into the bathroom to keep him from hearing anymore. As Mr. Gold is getting violent for an answer, Neal bursts in to stop him. Neal demands his father to leave, but Mr. Gold insists they have to talk. When Neal calls Emma by her name, Mr. Gold suspects that they know each other. Henry reappears and calls Emma "mom" as Neal is in disbelief, and asks him for his age. With the persistent questioning, Henry blurts out he is eleven. In stun, Neal asks Emma if Henry is his son. Henry remembers Emma saying his father died a firefighter, but she admits the truth. The lie upsets Henry, who flees to the fire escape as Emma follows out to explain she did not want him to know his his real father. Emma is hurt when Henry accuses her of lying to him like his adoptive mother Regina has. Eventually, she agrees to let Henry meet his father. Back inside, Neal grudgingly allows Mr. Gold to speak so Emma can fulfill her deal. Mr. Gold expresses regret for his past choices. He wants to make it up to Neal by using magic to revert him to a younger age so they can start over, which his son rejects. Neal relates the abandonment he faced since his father let him go into the portal and has never been able to forget it, so this time, Mr. Gold will have to settle for being let go too. Later, Emma allows Neal to meet Henry, but advises not to break his heart. Henry and Neal have a tentative introduction, and spend some moments on the fire escape together. ("Manhattan")

Over a short period, Neal and Henry form a bond with each other. Neal takes him to his favorite pizza parlor with promises to visit a museum. While the pair are in the store, Mr. Gold tries to persuade Emma to find a way and convince Neal return with them to Storybrooke. Emma refuses, citing that the deal is done and she no longer owes him anything else. However, he sparks a jolt of fear in her by insinuating that Henry might run away to New York to find his father if they aren't in Storybrooke together. Henry and Neal come back with pizza. When Emma asks Henry how the pizza is, he makes a comment that indirectly references his grudge against her for lying. On the walk back to the apartment, Emma brings up Storybrooke, but Neal doesn't see himself as a resident of the town. He tries to be truthful with her about something, but is interrupted. Emma and Mr. Gold wait in the lobby while the two go to fetch a camera. Hook unexpectedly darts in and stabs Mr. Gold with his hook, which is coated in poison. Emma knocks the pirate out as Henry and Neal run back to the scene. Neal recognizes Hook from the past. They discover Hook came to New York by ship and the only way to save Mr. Gold is to sail it back to Storybrooke. Neal tells Emma he learned to sail a ship in the land he stopped at on his way to this land. Hook is locked in the apartment room's storeroom and the four prepare to sail. Preparing for their trip, Neal walks over to a borrowed car, but is stopped when a woman runs up. They hug, and Neal introduces her to Emma as Tamara, his fiancée. ("The Queen Is Dead")

Neal convinces Tamara to come to Storybrooke. She goes to his apartment to collect some of her things for the journey. After discovering Hook in the storeroom, she kidnaps him for her own purposes while Neal later finds out too late that the pirate is missing. ("The Evil Queen", "Selfless, Brave and True")

Before Second Curse

When Regina stopped Pan's curse, everyone in Storybrooke pays the price of magic by going back to the Enchanted Forest. Emma and Henry escape town, and with Regina's magic, their memories of Storybrooke are erased while new memories are crafted for them. Only recalling that a fire burned down their Boston apartment, Emma and Henry then relocate to a New York apartment. ("Going Home")

During Second Curse

Emma begins dating Walsh, a man she meets in a furniture shop. They hit it off almost immediately, as he takes her out on a date, in which she orders an ice cream sundae, but it isn't on the menu. However perfect Walsh seems, however, he is actually a minion of the Wicked Witch's. The two become a couple, and date for an ongoing eight months. ("New York City Serenade")

Outrunning another curse, Hook trades his ship for a magic bean in order to reach New York and find Emma. While everyone who previously returned to the Enchanted Forest has been re-cursed back into Storybrooke, he shows up at Emma's apartment one morning to convince her to help. After making breakfast, Emma and Henry sit down to enjoy their meal when both hear a knock at the door. As Emma swings the door open, Hook insists she needs to save her family as they are in trouble. Emma has no idea what this strangely dressed pirate is talking about, and when he attempts to give her true love's kiss, she kicks him away. Ignoring his explanations, she hastily shuts the door. From the dining table, Henry inquiries about who was at the door. Gathering herself, Emma calmly says she didn't know who it is. ("Going Home", "New York City Serenade", "A Curious Thing", "There's No Place Like Home")

After work, Emma shows up late to a dinner date with Walsh. Little does she know, he intends to propose to her. For this special event, Walsh excuses himself and has an ice cream sundae made for Emma with the ring hidden on the plate. While her boyfriend is away, Hook pressures a wary Emma to listen to him about what he told her earlier. Despite how crazy it seems, Hook writes down an apartment address for Emma to visit as proof he is telling the truth. Right after the pirate disappears, Walsh returns and a waiter brings the ice cream sundae. Emma insists she is too full to eat another bite, until Walsh draws her attention to the ring on the platter, which shocks her. Kneeling before her, he proposes, to which a stunned Emma walks out. When Walsh catches up to her, she explains her hesitation is because they've only dated for eight months. He decides to not push the issue and give her time to think. Returning home, Emma learns Henry not only knew Walsh was going to propose, but he also believes she should say yes. Knowing she fears being hurt again, Henry reasons that Walsh is nothing like his biological father, who betrayed her in the past. The next day, Emma visits the apartment, where she finds out Neal lives there, and her discovery of a camera strap with Henry's name on it. When she confronts Hook, he offers a potion to restore her lost memories. Instead, Emma has him arrested for harassment. Later, she views copies of the camera photos, which show herself and Henry in a town called Storybrooke. Realizing Hook is right, she bails him out of jail and ingests the potion; regaining her erased memories. That night, she rejects Walsh's proposal, to which he reacts angrily by turning into a flying monkey. Emma fends him off, and leaves for Storybrooke the next morning with Henry and Hook. ("New York City Serenade")

After Second Curse

At some point, Ursula ends up in New York and takes a job feeding fish at a aquarium. Weeks after Belle banishes Mr. Gold from Storybrooke, he steps off a bus in New York and meets up with Ursula at the aquarium. He proposes that they, the villains, team up to get their happy endings by consulting with a mysterious figure known as "The Author". ("Heroes and Villains")


For detailed location information, please see the list of New York City locations.



Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.

  • New York City is mentioned on a gravestone in "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter".[5]
  • A map of New York City appears in "We Are Both".[6]