13 August 2013

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New York's Classic Film Locations

A few years ago I was in New York on business, and after a morning walking the streets at the height of mid-winter, I stopped in a hotel bar to get a coffee and warm up a bit. The surroundings seemed familiar to me but it wasn’t until I’d left and was almost at my next appointment when I realised why - that was the bar where Luca Brasi meets his maker in The Godfather, one of my favourite movies. [...]


A few years ago I was in New York on business, and after a morning walking the streets at the height of mid-winter, I stopped in a hotel bar to get a coffee and warm up a bit. The surroundings seemed familiar to me but it wasn’t until I’d left and was almost at my next appointment when I realised why - that was the bar where Luca Brasi meets his maker in The Godfather, one of my favourite movies.

That got me thinking as to which other classic films have been shot in the Big Apple, and whether any of their key locations were still around and recognisable. Over the next few days whenever I had some free time I did a bit of research online, and went looking. Here’s the places I visited while I was there, and next time I go back I’ll find a few more.


Dinosaur Playground, Riverside Park
No, they didn’t shoot Jurassic Park at this Upper West Side park, but the kids play area doubled up as Pelham Bay Park in one of the great cult movies of all time, 1979s The Warriors. Thousands of gang-members congregate at the start of the film for an unprecedented pow-wow which will end violently and with dangerous consequences for one gang. The dinosaurs actually number only two, sad plastic things, pretty unimpressive, but there’s plenty more besides for the kids to enjoy while Dads reminisce about their leather-jacket wearing days. Fans of the movie will also love wandering several locations around iconic Coney Island, the Warriors’ home-turf.

Katz’s Delicatessen, East Houston Street
Katz’s has been in business for close to 150 years now, and its still going strong, with a reputation for amazing sandwiches. This is where Meg Ryan had an excitable lunch date in When Harry Met Sally - I’m not much of a fan of romances, but this bittersweet tale is impossible to resist - great cast, funny script and an ending you’re hoping for right from the opening scenes. You can get a seat at their table to “have what she’s having”, but be prepared to queue a while!

Hook & Ladder 8, North Moore Street
For anyone born in the 80s, this fire station, which is still in operation today, should be instantly recognisable. This was the base of the Ghostbusters, where they scoffed donuts, traded barbs, and stored the spooky denizens of Manhattan they collected on a daily basis. Having my photo taken here fulfilled a childhood dream. The station is very close to the World Trade Centre, and one of the firefighters tragically died on September 11th 2001, a plaque outside honouring him.

21 Club, West 52nd Street
One of New York’s most hallowed spots, 21 was a speakeasy during Prohibition, and housed the wine collections of Mae West, Aristotle Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor among others. This was where we found J.J. Hunsecker holding court as a gossip columnist in The Sweet Smell of Success, a caustic, cynical and bleakly humorous classic from the 50s with some of the sharpest dialogue ever put to film. Dress smart, brush your hair and head down here for a cocktail before dinner, at this slice of New York history.

Bensonhurst Elevated Railway, Brooklyn
Whenever people talk about The French Connection, usually the epic car chase will come up. This was filmed over a period of five weeks, famously in real traffic rather than staged, as Popeye Doyle requisitions a car to pursue a train, in which is the man who just tried to gun him down.

And even when I’m done in New York, I know I can spend a lifetime enjoying America holidays because the list of incredible movies shot on location just goes on and on.


About Today's Contributor:
Rob is a huge film buff and can't wait for his next visit to New York City for a trip down movie memory lane.


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