The Film Locations of Taxi Driver (Part 3)

Just finding us? Start with Part 1 of our Taxi Driver examination to avoid confusion!

Continuing along where we last left off, Travis takes Betsy to Times Square for their ill-fated movie date. Exactly where they are is tough to place as they walk along Broadway/7th Ave, but based on the median, I believe they’re at the corner of 45th & Broadway (note that this section of Broadway is now closed off to traffic as a pedestrian walkway):

 

TD - 050a - corner

TD - 050b - corner

Travis takes Betsy to the Lyric, a former 42nd Street playhouse and movie theater.

TD - 051a - sign

TD - 051b - sign

The actual show Travis brings Betsy to see is not the above-advertised Sometime Sweet Susan, but actually, a 1969 Swedish sex educational film called Language of Love. Currently, the Hilton Theatre is gearing up for the 2010 release of the Spider-man musical.

TD - 052a - theater

TD - 052b - theater

In this photo, you can see the full Lyric facade. Originally designed as an opera school, the Lyric opened as a theater in 1903, with 1,350 seats, 2 balconies, and 18 box seats. In 1934, it was converted into a movie theater to survive the Depression. At some point along the way, it became a porno theater. In 1994, the Lyric and neighboring Apollo theater (on the left) were demolished to make way for a theater combining the two. Major architectural elements were carefully removed and re-installed in the new building, which currently is known as the Hilton Theatre.

TD - 052c

Shortly after the film begins, Betsy storms out of the Lyric (would she have the same problem with Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark?).

TD - 054a - door

TD - 054b - door

Travis desperately tries to talk with Betsy, offering us a glimpse across the street of what I believe is the New Amsterdam theater (like the Lyric, it had been converted from a theatrical stage to a movie house during the Depression and was in shambles by the time Disney leased it in 1993).

TD - 055a - leaving

TD - 055b - leaving

If you look closely, the theater across the street is playing Clint Eastwood’s The Eiger Sanction:

TD - 056a - across

TD - 056b - across

Travis later stops at McAnn’s Bar, a location I cannot find anywhere. There are several McAnn’s in the city, but none of them have addresses that match the building numbering (McAnn’s should be 692 or 694…). Any ideas?

TD - 058

Travis makes a call to Betsy to apologize, and amazingly, this scene was shot in a place where I spend a good amount of time when working on films: the lobby of the Ed Sullivan Theater building which, in addition to the Letterman studio, also houses the Mayor’s Office of Film. It’s looking quite a bit different these days, but I like that they left the metal phone book holder:

TD - 059a - phone

TD - 059b - phone

Angry, Travis storms around the corner out the front door:

TD - 060a - phone

TD - 060b - phone

Travis tries unsuccessfully to talk to Betsy at the campaign office, and while we’ve already covered the location in detail, I wanted to note the oddly-named restaurant across the street, “Aunt Fish” (no longer around, of course).

TD - 061a - window

TD - 061b - window

Travis then meets up with his buddies at the Belmore Cafeteria, a former grease joint on the corner of 28th & Park. Sadly, the owner sold the property in 1981, and a bland highrise was built in its place:

TD - 062a - belmore

TD - 062b - belmore

An angled view of the new building:

TD - 062c - belmore

Travis steps outside with fellow cabbie Wizard for a discussion about guns. We get a quick glimpse north (the building on the right past the Belmore is now Les Halles, the restaurant owned by TV personality chef Anthony Bourdain):

TD - 063a - Belmore

TD - 063b - Belmore

The reverse view shows a fight on the street – you can make out a pretty neat subway globe lamp. Meanwhile, a McDonalds is now on the corner.

TD - 064a - Belmore

TD - 064b - Belmore

Across the street, more changes:

TD - 065a - Reverse

TD - 065b - Reverse

Travis continues to follow Betsy, and parks outside her building on Broadway between 62nd & 63rd streets. Across the street, you can see the AAA building entrance, and how it looks today:

TD - 066a - aaa

TD - 066b - aaa

Travis decides to check in on Iris, the young prostitute he met outside the Variety. He parks his car on 13th Street between 2nd & 3rd Aves to wait for her. It took me a good ten minutes of searching for that red door before I realized it doesn’t exist anymore:

TD - 068a - Parked Cab

TD - 068b - Parked Cab

If you haven’t noticed, one of the key aspects that makes Taxi Driver a quintessential New York movie is that the city geography makes sense. When Travis takes Betsy to a coffee shop, for example, they head a few blocks south from the campaign headquarters at 62nd Street to a grease joint at 58th. When Travis brings Betsy to the porno theater, we see them walk a logical path down Times Square to 42nd Street. And here, when Travis reunites with Iris, he goes right around the corner from the Variety Theater, where he first met her.

TD - 069a - Street Walk

TD - 069b - Street walk

The door marked ROOMS is at 202 East 13th Street (oddly, everyone remembers this entrance, even though nothing ever happens here):

TD - 070a - hotel

TD - 070b - hotel

Travis follows Iris along, passing this great wall ad for Endicott Johnson, a New York-based shoe manufacturer. The electronics store on the right is now Cafe Deville.

TD - 071a - Corner

TD - 071b - Corner

Travis then speeds off, passing Gothic Cabinet Craft. Hooray! Something that still exists! The sign’s different, but it’s still the same business over 30 years later.

TD - 072a - gothic

TD - 072b - gotheric

I take pride in correctly guessing the location of this next shot immediately, in which Travis is picked up by the gun dealer. The only clue in the photo is that tuft of green up the street, but it’s enough to give it away as Madison Square Park, placing Travis somewhere along 5th Ave (actually at 19th street):

TD - 073a - Fifth Ave

TD - 073b - Fifth Ave

As the cab comes around the corner, we get a quick look at a diner advertising “coffee shop – fountain service.” This is now a Sephora.

TD - 074a - sephora

TD - 074b - sephora

Yes! Another business still around! Same hardware store on 19th street as Travis heads off in the cab.

TD - 075a - hardware

TD - 075b - hardware

Travis then attends a political rally, and I can’t place this one. I was thinking it might even be in Brooklyn, with the view of the Manhattan Bridge and those warehouse-like buildings in the background. Any guesses?

TD - 076 - Rally

I have absolutely no idea where the R&M Super Market is (where Travis first uses his new gun).

TD - 077 - R&M

Travis then attends a second political rally. This was easy to locate, as the first shot features street signs (38th & Seventh Ave). Note the new fancy glass on the left…

TD - 078a - Upshot

TD - 078b - Upshot

In this next shot, the only change is the DONT WALK and street signs. Look carefully and you’ll see what 33 years does to a wall advertisement.

TD - 079a - Bldg

TD - 079b - Bldg

One last view of Seventh Ave:

TD - 080a - Bldgs

TD - 080b - Bldgs

Travis is quickly asked to leave by a cop, and while most of these places are gone, the Spanish Taverna restaurant still exists:

TD - 081a - Taxi

TD - 081b - Taxi

Based on the reviews, I definitely need to try this place one night (though don’t be fooled by the exterior – dishes range from $20-$40!).

TD - 082a - Taverna

TD - 082b - Taverna

Yet another corner diner is gone – this time, The Center has been replaced by Health King. Note that everyone is looking and smiling at the camera (Travis is driving too fast to notice during the film):

TD - 083a - Corner

TD - 083b - Corner

One final look at how Seventh Ave has changed:

TD - 084a - Taxi

TD - 084b - Taxi

Back to 13th Street again, and Travis meets up with Iris. The place on the corner has been serious renovated and is now Hea, a Japanese restaurant:

TD - 087a - corner bldg

TD - 087b - corner bldg

Across the street, another view of Gothic Cabinet Craft:

TD - 085a - gothic

TD - 085b - gothic

Travis gets out and chats with Iris:

TD - 088a - street walk

TD - 088b - street walk

Again, we see the infamous ROOMS entrance…but no one ever goes in!

TD - 089a - street walk

TD - 089b - street walk

Travis has a chat with Iris’ pimp, played by Harvey Keitel. The scene takes place outside of 204 East 13th Street.:

TD - 090a - door

TD - 090b - door

In this reverse shot, we get a look across the street (the buildings have all since been torn down):

TD - 091a - reverse

TD - 091b - reverse

After a deal is reached, Iris and Travis continue down the street…

TD - 092a - walkaway

TD - 092b - walkaway

…to 226 E 13th Street. Things are looking cheerier these days:

TD - 093a - house

TD - 093b - house

A tilt up shows the rest of the building:

TD - 094a - upview

TD - 094b - upview

Travis later takes Iris to a diner. Any ideas on where this might be?

TD - 095a

The street vendor on the right makes me wonder if this is on St. Mark’s (man, does that brick look familiar). Good to know that Gino’s Italian Ices have been around so long.

TD - 095b

Travis goes to the Palantine rally at Columbus Circle in what proves to be a failed attempt to assassinate the candidate:

TD - 096a - Rally

TD - 096b - Rally

The angel statue featured is still around:

TD - 097a - Statue

TD - 097b - Statue

As Travis flees the scene, we get a glimpse of the old Gulf + Western building on the corner, later to be stripped down and completely renovated into the Trump International Hotel (along with steel globe).

TD - 098a - Corner

TD - 098b - Corner

After the bloody shootout on E 13th Street, the film concludes at the St. Regis Hotel at 55th Street & Fifth Ave. I like the new black awning:

TD - 099a - Regis

TD - 099b - Regis

Travis chats with his cab buddies…

TD - 100a - Chats

TD - 100b - Chats

…then meets Betsy in a cab to end the film.

TD - 101a - Regis

TD - 101b - Regis

As evidenced in these past three installments, quite a lot has changed in New York since 1976. Personally, I don’t look back nostalgically on the grittier New York of the late 1970’s. As I never experienced it first hand, I believe it’s dangerous and naive to romanticize something the city has worked so desperately to rise up from. In 1976, a large portion of New York’s population people simply didn’t care, and the city suffered for it. If you pine for this level of apathy, there are plenty of other American cities going through some pretty bad rough patches you could move to, and I promise the rent will be much cheaper.

In 2009, people care. A byproduct of people caring is a city that is safer, more g-rated, more expensive, more museum-like. I agree that such an environment leaves very little room for growth, artistic or otherwise – frankly, you CAN’T have a Belmore diner at the corner of 28th & Park anymore (if you owned the place, would you not sell the property for countless millions?). While I dislike the fact that so many of the FAR more interesting locations in Taxi Driver have been replaced by Duane Reades, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Sephora’s, I can only look at it as part of the unfortunate social evolution of New York. Ultimately, if New York City didn’t want them, they wouldn’t exist for long.

Regardless, as I stated at the beginning of this series, New York is as much a character in Taxi Driver as Travis Bickle, and Scorsese can’t be praised enough for giving it so much screen time.

TD - 102

I’m taking a little break from these labor-intensive then-and-now’s, but definitely let me know what movie you’d like to see covered next. And one last time, if you’ve made it this far, think about subscribing to our RSS feed or Twitter account (if you haven’t already) for future updates!

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85 comments

  1. Wow, New York looks much “cleaner” now. Maybe it’s because of the particular look of that movie, or because you took your pictures by day, but my oh my ….

    Adult theaters became yogurt shops. When will the madness end ? :)

  2. Amazing series. I’m curious about where McAnn’s Bar featured in the film is. I always said that Taxi Driver was so great because NYC was part of the film. You could literally walk through all the scenes, there wasn’t a cut once the characters turned a corner and magically continued 30 blocks away. I was born in 1973 but got to experience NYC in the late 70’s and early 80’s. While I do miss certain gritty aspects, I do like that it is safer than it was.

  3. Oh and I’m curious about McAnn’s mostly because in the shot the addresses go from 690, 692, then McAnn’s, and 694. I thought maybe it was along St. Mark’s Place but the numbers don’t go that high along St. Mark’s.

  4. I really, really enjoyed this. It was an awesome post. You did a cool job with these photos man. I’m amazed with all this. Thanks for doing it.

  5. “And hey, if it all bugs you that much, there are plenty of other American cities going through some pretty bad rough patches you could move to, and I promise the rent will be much cheaper.”
    Really? That’s your takeaway from the comments that rued the homogenization of NYC? That we loved living in dirty, dangerous cities?
    I’d say rather that what I miss is living in a city that was unlike any other in the country (if not the world), and that was imbued with the history that NYC carries. It’s not just that there are Duane Reades, Starbucks, and bank branches everywhere you look nowadays, although that’s definitely part of it. It’s the presence of Olive Gardens, Home Depots, K-Marts, and all the other businesses that strip NYC’s distinctive character away and make it just another suburban burg with some famous old buildings. Manhattan looks like a theme park mall these days.
    And it doesn’t matter if New Yorkers want them or not–it’s the tourists that want them, too, and that keep so many of them in business. I used to have a weekly midday appointment in a building near Planet Hollywood, and every week there’d be a 50-person line full of people in track suits and shiny white sneakers (i.e. tourists), despite there being hundreds of interesting and uniquely New York restaurants.
    NYC has had 16 years of mayors who privilege tourism and corporate interests above the character of the city, and it shows.

  6. I wonder how old that phone book in the Ed Sullivan is.

    Thanks again for doing these. If you’re into sticking around in the 70s for a bit, I’d love to see an update on The Warriors. Another one that might be neat to do is Wall Street, considering they’re filming the sequel now.

  7. This is awesome.

    McAnn’s is probably 692 3rd Ave – see this NYT piece which mentions one there: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/realestate/commercial/14rail.html

    The first political rally could perhaps be along Cadman Plaza West.

  8. Great work. I love these posts.

    Agree with Mike about Cadman Plaza West. I think this Google street view link confirms it:

    http://bit.ly/qdnj4

    See the sort of sloping rooftop on the “tower” of that one building on the left?

  9. More specifically, the building with the sloped tower, One Main Street: http://bit.ly/onemain

  10. I seem to remember that shortly after Letterman moved into the Ed Sullivan theater (maybe some time the first year he was there) he mentioned that he just learned Taxi Driver filmed a scene there. He played the scene with Travis on the phone, and then they recreated the shot with the same camera movement.

  11. McAnn’s could be West 41st Street.

    Found a posting for a McAnn’s that is no longer there, but that block has changed so much, nothing looks similar.
    http://www.thepubdirectory.com/single.php?listing=142

  12. Hey Karen –
    I actually don’t think I’m talking about you when I describe the type of romanticizing that some people do for older New York. There’s definitely a portion of the population (mostly younger, newer residents or out of towners) who look at a movie like Taxi Driver and think COOL! NEAT! WOW! What character! This was the REAL NEW YORK! Gritty, crime ridden, etc., etc. And that annoys me.

    I’m not saying everyone looks nostalgically back to this era for this reason, but just recently, I read an article in New York magazine in which the author wistfully recalls 1970’s/1980’s NY as a wonderful place FOR the grit and crime and pollution and so forth, as if THAT was the type of character New York is missing now. And that frustrates me!

    If you’re going to look back on a time when NY had character, it seems like anywhere from 1900-1950 are the years in which NYC really thrived as a unique city all of its own (minus a chunk in there for the Depression, etc.). And while I’d like to chalk it up to tourists, I hate to admit that I think New Yorkers have to take much more blame (outside of Times Square, that is).

  13. FYI if you adjust the exposure on the R & M market photo, it reveals more clues: the address is 540, 546, or definitely something in the 540 range. The awning has a different market name, it looks more like “D & J Grocery” or “P & J”.

    In case those clues help somebody else zero in on the location…

  14. Notice in the McAnn’s photo that there is a MU exchange phone number no the Malcolm & whatever engravers at 694. So it’s likely that the 3rd avenue suggestion from Mike is right. Or something else in the area that could possibly be a MU exchange and numbers 692.

  15. Great series and I love the spot on photos in the 38th & 7th part. Just wanted to also let you know that you refer to Travis as Charlie a few times in the post.

  16. I think I found McAnn’s, or the location anyway.

    Try a streetview of 694 9th Ave:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=694+9th+ave+new+york+ny&sourceid=navclient-ff&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS250US250&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=694+9+Ave,+New+York,+NY+10036&gl=us&ei=svvVSvHhI4PglAfb8aGdCQ&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=image&resnum=1&ved=0CA0Q8gEwAA

    Looks like Dunkin Donuts is McAnn’s. The building to the right, which is now a bakery, has a similar metal sign to the Malcolm Designer/Engraver. This is all between 48th and 47th, so it’s in the same area of Times Square and the Ed Sullivan Theater. The trees on the street even seem to match up.

  17. Ha, fixed the Charlie references (I’ve been working on a screenplay recently, and I suppose you can guess the main character’s name!).

  18. I really enjoyed your New York, you’ve changed series. One good idea for your next movie would be CRUISING w/ Al Pacino. Awful movie, but filmed entirely around the Meatpacking and the West Village. Other ideas are Next Stop Greenwich Village or Mean Streets.

  19. My vote for the next movie covered is “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (the original of course). It’s shot all over the city (and underneath it–it would be very cool to see how different the subway platforms and even the cars look) and I think it’s a film where the city is just as much of a character as the humans.

  20. I’d bet good money that McAnn’s is 692 3rd Av — the bar that replaced it (Muldoon’s) has the same windows, and the same order of doors to the left for 690, 692.

    The engravers to the right has a Murray Hill exchange as well, which’d place it on the east site not on 9th av.

    • The McAnn’s Bar in Taxi Driver was at 694 3rd Ave New York, NY 10017. I’m certain because I went to St. Agnes H.S. when it was on E. 44, St. We used to stop in there for Hot Sandwiches and drinks, and few years later i briefly lived above Smiler’s Deli, a few doors just north on 3rd Ave in ’78

  21. Yeah, Muldoon’s definitely looks like it’s it. My guess looked similar, but that’s spot on.

  22. Thanks for the tips – I’ll definitely check out 3rd Ave for McAnn’s and do a little more investigating for R&M Market with that address number in mind.

  23. Hi, Scout–thanks for the clarification, and I apologize for being so defensive! I wouldn’t dispute that 1900-1950 was a golden era for NYC as NYC (even taking the Depression into account). I guess my feeling, and my memory, of Manhattan in the 1970s is that the character of that half-century was still really present, obscured though it may have been by a layer of grime. I never felt Manhattan was particularly dangerous back then–by 1976, when Taxi Driver was made, I was turning 18 and had been coming into the city from Fort Lee NJ by myself for at least 3 or 4 years. I never had a bad experience–not like I did in the ’80s, after the overcrowding of the city’s mental health care facilities led to a massive exodus of slightly dotty folks into the streets and subways–and I still could meet a starving writer in a bookstore like Doubleday’s on 5th Ave who lived in a Chelsea basement studio like something out of “My Sister Eileen.” I guarantee that Chelsea brownhouse has been renovated to a fare-thee-well and is renting for a lot more than the $50/month that guy was paying, which was low enough for him to have a low-level job that left him free to write.

    Sometimes it seems like the removal of that layer of grime took a layer of character along with it, and it’s that collateral damage I mourn.

    Thanks for letting me vent–you’re very kind! And I love this blog more than I can say, and am grateful for the glimpses of the past you keep uncovering.

  24. Wow – that’s quite an awesome task you undertook, and with great results. The composition of your photos matches the film shots so well. Very impressive feat. So interesting to see the character of the city change over time.

  25. Swell work, Scout.
    “An Unmarried Woman” would be nice and relatively easy. “The Naked City” would be amazing but would required a lot of work. “The Wrong Man”, “Shadows”, “3 Days of the Condor”, and “The Sweet Smell of Success” would all be fun. Can’t wait to tune in.

  26. This is a really great series you made here, and there’s so many more that can be done if it wasn’t so hard

    Network would probably be a good choice, as would Annie Hall, Manhattan, or Hannah and Her Sisters. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, North by Northwest, The Odd Couple, or The Producers could show some good 1950s/60s differences.

    But the real challenge would be finding the areas used in the original 1927 The Jazz Singer in Lower Manhattan, if any of the area even still exists.

    And the outer boroughs shouldn’t be neglected; I’d be fascinated to see how the Bronx portrayed in films in the 70s/80s (i.e. urban hellhole in Fort Apache, etc) compares to the gritty but not really that bad Bronx of today. Dog Day Afternoon’s Brooklyn would be quite easy to catalogue, though, wouldn’t it.

  27. Hey, as long as we’re suggesting titles for future entries, I’d suggest “Midnight Cowboy.”

  28. My top suggestion would be Dog Day Afternoon. Also, Do The Right Thing, which would be easy enough to knock out in a day or two since they don’t go all around the city but there are definitely recognizable corners. Also the other smatterings of famous NY movies: Midnight Cowboy, Annie Hall, Sophie’s Choice I Shot Andy Warhol, etc…
    You should team up with an archivist and do it in reverse, like take a horrible NY city based show like Gossip Girl and do after/before. But that sounds like a huge waste of time.

  29. I love this series — thank you so much. I’ve looked this article over three times already. It’s ineffably mysterious and sad to think of the lives and businesses that could be entirely forgotten but for being captured briefly on film!

    Who’s up for a delicious dinner at Aunt Fish?

    Anyone? Anyone?

  30. Also other movie suggestions The 7 Ups, French Connection, Warriors

  31. Mike and Daniel are right on the location of the first political rally, I think. If you turn the street view around on the Google Map, you see the brick building on the left in the original shot — I work around there and, if I remember correctly, that’s a public library.

    These are a lot of fun, by the way. I second the idea of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three as your next project.

  32. This is a great series, excellent detective work. When I lived in NYC for a short time in the early nineties, I wanted to take the route that the Warriors took from Pelham Bay Park all the way to Coney Island via the subway (minus the shortcut that they took through the tunnels on foot; after The Taking of Pelham 123 I was mindful of that third rail!), but I couldn’t find a copy of the movie near where I lived in Brooklyn.

    Speaking of nostalgia for the big-city seventies, I’d chalk it up to a combination of looking at the past through rose-colored glasses and YMMV. I lived in Chicago in the late seventies/early eighties, and was mildly astounded at a recent blog posting about street gangs in Chicago, some of them in or near neighborhoods that I’d frequented–I don’t remember seeing any such gangs when I was in high school, although of course there were a few kids that you were told not to mess with because you’d end up getting hurt. But that could have just been a combination of luck and not spending that much time outside of my neighborhood and downtown. Same thing with Taxi Driver; someone could visit Times Square repeatedly and probably never see hookers brawling in the middle of the day.

  33. As everyone else said, I think this was really awesome. Love it. You did a really great job re-creating the angles in a lot of the shots too. What’d you do — bring your laptop with you, or printouts or something? A few of them are pretty impeccable.

    Suggestion for a quick-n-dirty Now-and-Then that only has a few scenes of the city in it since it’s largely filmed inside a restaurant: My Dinner With Andre.

    Gangs of New York, of course, would be great as well. And it’d continue to the Scorsese tradition :-)

  34. Scout –

    I have to take issue with your characterization of the populace of New York in the 1970s as apathetic. I should point out here that I was born in 1960, so I turned 16 the year this movie was filmed.

    New Yorkers in those days felt overwhelmed by the financial problems the city was having, brought on by 30 years of people moving to the suburbs (and governmental policies that favored this development). There was also more crime then than now (but it was actually much worse in the 80s and 90s than in 1976, see http://www.google.com/search?q=new+york+murder+rate+history&hl=en&hs=HAy&tbs=tl:1&tbo=u&sa=X&oi=timeline_result&ct=title&resnum=11), so people lived more “careful” lives. Many were angry or depressed and wanted to leave. There was (and this is not so often recalled) much more racism then than now. Whatever you can say, however, people were by no means apathetic.

    One should recall that Taxi Driver was intended to make the city look darker and more threatening than it actually was. Just as you don’t think DeNiro is the character he played in that film, don’t make the mistake of thinking that New York was either.

    New York was through it all an amazing place, and many people who were here at the time knew it, despite all the problems. It was, after all, why people stayed. There was an artistic outpouring that started then that flourished in Soho and other areas. The low real-estate prices meant that all sorts of odd, one-off establishments could spring up. (Think of CBGBs for example).

    Furthermore, and this is something young people can hardly understand living in the city we have now, there was an obvious connection to the city as it had existed for 200 years. There were lots of establishments that were 30, 40, 100 or more years old, and growing up then you had a real sense of history of the place.

    About 1976 I had a lobster on a lobster boat that was landing its cargo at the old Fulton Fish Market. My dad had a chat with the old salt whose boat it was, and he invited us aboard and he gave us one. There was, at that time, a restaurant across from the South Street Seaport called “Sweets” that had been there since 1842. I recall it well, and it was notable for the lack of air conditioning and the wonderful fish. Of course all of this is now gone – they turned the South Street Seaport into a mall, the Fish Market was relocated to Hunts Point, and Sweets closed in 1992.)

    If I had a choice of the New York of 1976 or 2009 to live in, I would have to say that it wouldn’t be easy to make. I might just decide to deal with all the crime and decay to live in a place with all those possibilities.

    • Hey Mitch –

      Thanks very much for your comments. When I wrote “In 1976, a large portion of New York’s population people simply didn’t care, and the city suffered for it,” I intentionally used the word portion to imply that it was not everyone (maybe I shouldn’t have used “large” without having the facts to back it up). I really regret even including that paragraph, because what I was trying to address was simply the people who romanticize the fictional world of Taxi Driver as something cool, something New York lost. I don’t care who you are or when you lived, the New York portrayed in TD is rotten (and I’m pretty sure Martin Scorsese would agree with that). As you correctly point out, however, it’s not an accurate representation of the city at that time.

      I also noted that the sacrifice of NY2009 is the limiting of possibilities and reduction of character. And I also agree with you – it’s a tough choice to make.

  35. Good work. I live in the UK. I’m just back from NY, and I’m fascinated by the place. I like your comment about apathy. New Yorkers really do care. I took a few snaps on my mobile and I was amazed the attention I received. I bet you found people stopped to see what you were doing.

  36. Scout –

    Thanks for your reply. Actually, as I think on it, people are probably more apathetic now than they were then. Living in NYC now is pretty easy. You generally don’t have to worry about being a victim of a crime, whether there will be municipal layoffs, or whether your employer will move the corporate headquarters to Stanford.

    Having to confront those things really focused the mind.

    People weren’t apathetic, they were overwhelmed.

    What I am sure about is that whatever the tradeoffs there were between the NYC of 1976 and 2009 – I would rather we pay more attention to preserving the character the city has left, Our current mayor has no interest in this – in fact he often appears hostile to it – and in the long run the city is paying for it,

  37. I’ve really enjoyed — I love figuring out New York locations and have spent some myself studying this movie and Ghostbusters, so I really appreciate someone else doing the legwork for me! It would be great to see some classic Woody Allen films given the same treatment.
    Going back to Taxi Driver, I just realized that you missed out the scene where Travis picks up a somewhat psychotic passenger (played by Scorsese). I used to think it was Gramercy Park. Now I think it might be Stuyvesant Park (perhaps the corner of Rutherford Place and East 17th?) but I could be way off. Any thoughts?

  38. Travis takes Iris to the coffee shop that was called Disco Donuts. It was the corner of 14th st and 3rd Ave I think. It disappeared sometime around 1985.

    • Yes!… when you ask:
      “Travis later takes Iris to a diner. Any ideas on where this might be?”
      I immediately thought that it was the south-west corner of 14th St. and 3rd Ave.
      Keeping with the accurate geography within the film itself, too.

      I remember watching shows like “the Nancy Drew Mysteries” as a kid, which were supposed to take place
      in my native NYC , and thinking “whoa…this does NOT look right!” Vancouver or Toronto just did not cut it.
      Maybe now with all the chains it’s easier to pass off an ersatz New York.

      Gotta applaud Scorsese for showing New York as it really was (albeit showcasing the darker side).
      I grew up in the seventies just a few blocks north of 13th St.
      Great series by the way!! Fantastic!

      My suggestion? The original Bad Lieutenant was filmed only 20-odd years ago, but plenty has changed since then!

  39. Hey- I just found this site and I love it !

    Just a correction- You got the location wrong for the first pic on this page (Travis and Betsy on a date). They’re not in Times Square, they’re at Columbus Circle, right on Broadway and 60th Street. Across the street is the Gulf and Western building. Notice that the traffic is going in both directions, which happens on Broadway once you past Columbus Circle heading uptown. They’re walking right in front of the old Colisseum, which is now where the Time Warner Center is.

    My favorite “Taxi Driver” NY memory- early in the film, there’s a shot of the cab driving by the Coronet & Baronet theaters, which used to be on 3rd Avenue and 59th Street. I was watching the film in that very theater when it opened in February 1976. Travis drives right by the very theater I was in !!

    How about “Midnight Cowboy” next ?

  40. Good for Disco Donuts. It was right there on the corner next to the Variety Arts. For a long time in the window there were pictures from the movie. I watched it change and disappear knowing a landmark was being lost. Scout is right about the movie’s locations being cohesive and trackable. It would stand to reason that Travis would not take Iris too far from her corner. From where they were she could see her whole territory.

    Suggestion, maybe Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Not too labor intensive but some interesting camera angles in the Seagram building shots.

  41. Thanks for a great read. If you’re taking requests, I’d love to see similar pieces on MEAN STREETS, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, and DO THE RIGHT THING!

  42. Good work.
    A cafeteria Travis meets with the Peter Boil character is shot on Park Ave south at 28 – 29th Streets. There used to e a diner there which was replaced by a high rise on the NE corner of 28th and Park.
    Bellmore cafeteria…
    http://www.disobey.com/ghostsites/labels/Taxi%20Driver.html

  43. This is great! In 1978, years before VCRs and DVDs, my friend borrowed a projector and a print of “Taxi Driver” from the school’s movie club and we watched it like twenty times over a weekend. It was my first experience being able to dissect a film almost frame by frame. A shot that you did not include was the Variety Arts Theater on 3rd Ave between 13 and 14th St (across from 111 3rd Ave where my brother lived in the 70s). That was torn down a few years ago and is now a fancy schmancy glass and steel high rise. … I just saw that #44 Fraught mentions The Variety. And Disco Donuts. I bought my morning coffee there every time I visited my brother.

  44. Absolutely love your series (well, okay… I absolutely LOVE your site, your posts and photography). I’ve subscribed for a while and this last one for some reason sent me over the top and I had to say, “Hat’s off to you for the taking the time to share your knowledge and love for NYC!” Kudos!

  45. The building in the background across 13th St when De Niro is talking to Keitel (now a vacant lot) was the back of the Jefferson theater: http://cinematreasures.org/theater/1357/

  46. FYI, Anthony Bourdain doesn’t own Les Halles, he was executive chef there for a few years.

  47. I remember the SE corner of 3rd Ave. & E. 13th St. ( photo TD – 071a – Corner) as being the location of Paragon Sporting Goods.
    I believe the ‘Army & Navy’ in the lower half of the mural is a reference to that store. I bought a leather flight jacket there back in the “gritty 70’s.”

  48. Just read through all 3 articles. Great job. Taxi Driver is my favorite movie and I’m always finding myself recognizing locations when walking around NYC.

  49. Awesome footage. I lived at 226 E 13th in the early 90s, when Dinkins was still mayor. My friends across the way lived at 204. Nice apt. Don’t let the facade fool you. Moving into that block, it was a prerequisite that you watched Taxi Driver. Back in the day it was still gritty and dealers used to have fights over corners. Now I see a sushi restaurant at the formerly abandoned building corner where the dealers used to duke it out. Amazing. I’m not gonna deny I miss the old NY. It had much more character.

  50. McAnn’s is definitely 692 3rd Avenue. Do you see the bottom of a fire escape, partially obscuring the 690 address to the left? It is still there, in the same position. You can see part of the tree on the left side and that is still there as well. A slightly earlier frame in the film shows a cellar in front of McAnn’s, that is still there. You also still have the three doors in a row – 690, 690 and 692. As someone said, the NY Times said a McAnn’s used to be on 692 3rd Avenue, it is now a Muldoon’s.

  51. Thank you for a wonderful view of NY – I’m an avid movie viewer and NY walker and have been in most of the neighborhoods and streets featured in the movie. Loved how you were able to mention the realism of being on 62nd and walking to a coffee shop on 58th Street. “The Devil Wears Prada” is the biggest offender of magically walking across 42nd Street from the Conde Nast building and ending up in Chelsea.

    “Michael Clayton” had it last scenes at the NY Hilton and I was cheering in the movie when the cab driver was in line with someone leaving 6th Ave.

    This is an amazing site! Kudos!

  52. You’ve probably heard this one a million times but it would be amazing to do a similar photo essay with “The French Connection.” The car chase has been documented pretty extensively; what never gets covered are all the cat-and-mouse scenes that happen on foot — the shadowing of Sal on his way to meet Charnier; the cozy restaurant where Charnier and his henchman dine while Popeye and Cloudy freeze their asses across the street; the flower shop where Charnier loses Popeye — it’s a rapid-fire mosaic of Manhattan street tableaux circa 1971. Maybe I should shut up and get started…

  53. Don’t know if anybody has mentioned this yet… I live in the neighborhood and the restaurant Travis takes Iris to dinner was a place on the corner of 14th and Third called Disco Donut. When I moved to the neighborhood it was already famous for its inclusion in the movie. There’s nothing there now; after Disco Donut closed it was a mom and pop drug store called Robin Raj Discount (which has sinced moved one lot down on Third). I really miss the Variety Arts as well, even though in the 80’s it had become a gay porno theater it eventually became an off Brodway theater and music venue (the band They Might Be Giants did a weeklong residency there in the 80’s that I saw) before they tore it down. It was the only theater I knew of in Manhattan that still had a separate box office (about the size of a large phone booth) in the middle of the sidewalk in front of the building, the way theaters did in the 20’s.

    Thanks for doing this… keep it up!

  54. That shot at the first political rally that you thought might be in Brooklyn, is indeed Brooklyn. It’s Cadman Plaza West and either Pineapple or Cranberry Street.

    Great site!

  55. Great series, I love it! There’s one location from Taxi Driver that was skipped. The scene is very short and is one of those random shots that shows Travis driving around the city. It looks very much like 84th and Lexington Ave and the viewer briefly sees an A&P supermarket to the left of the screen. I remember that A&P there back in the 70s.

    Another film I’d like to recommend is Marathon Man. All the car chase stuff they filmed for the beginning of the film was done right in my neighborhood when everything was German on 86th street. In fact the stalled car sequence was filmed right on my block.

  56. Thanks so much for having done this!

  57. That was amazing :) Maybe the infamous ROOMS entrance is well-known because of this promo pic of Jodie Foster in front of it: http://www.gmanreviews.com/2010/11/14/poll-results-jodie-foster-is-the-best-hooker/

  58. love the pictures sooooo much, ive had an obsession with NYC ever since i can remember i hope to visit and live there one day

  59. I agree with you about people romanticizing things that were terrible about the city. That drives me crazy! Street kids doing heroin is not “gritty.”

    I’ve heard from native New Yorkers over and over again about how you couldn’t go into this park or that, including ones that are vibrant today like Union Square’s park or Tompkins Square. Same about entire neighborhoods being off limits because crime was especially bad in the 80s.

    I also agree that what people long for is a few decades older than they think. What I think NYC has lost is ultimately a lot of blue collar life and culture. The loss of many diners and “dime” stores is one example. Neighborhoods where kids played ball are now so tony that you rarely see children at all, just the occasional kid being hurried off to ballet or to playdates. I mean this more about Manhattan than anywhere else, but it’s not exclusively Manhattan. And I wonder what effect the loss of the docks had in this respect. New York has lost so much of its middle class and working class. The city used to have a lot more Ralph Kramdens and fewer Carrie Bradshaws. And it had more artists, people who are now in places like Cleveland, which I’ve just moved back to myself.

    I love Pete Hamill’s book Downtown: My Manhattan. He also rejects the romanticized 80s Time Square, but what I especially appreciate is his noting that New Yorkers are always in a state of mourning the past because change happens so quickly. One of my favorite books.

    Thanks so much for this amazing site!

  60. Searching the New York Times yields some results showing McAnn’s at 692 3rd Ave (and some health code violations!).

    I love your site and efforts like this are outstanding.

    Thank you so much

  61. Wow! You have done a tremendous service and job identifying and photographing the various NYC locations in Taxi Driver. I absolutely love to make these type of comparisons and I didn’t realize there were others out there like me.

    I was born in Brooklyn in 1972 and it is very difficult for me to remember the 1970s as I was so young. I do remember going to Times Sq. in the early 1980s though; I was probably around 10 years old.

    Although I do not necessarily love modern NYC, it is my opinion that it is certainly preferable to the NYC of the 1970s to early 1990s. NYC esp. Times Sq., was so seedy and NYC was pretty dangerous, particularly in the 1980s and early 90s. It amazes me how we have turned it around and there are areas throughout NYC that you couldn’t even walk through 20-35 years ago, including areas of Brooklyn such as Atlantic Ave, Prospect Park, etc that are now relatively safe and family friendly. I kind of like the grittiness of the 1970s but do not necessarily miss it, and my family really enjoys our visits to Manhattan. When we take our son to the city, there is so much for him to see, so many cool things going on, and as parents we don’t really have to worry as our parents probably worried about us when we were young. Don’t get me wrong, we worry and are cautious, but probably about different things.

    I get excited when I see that a place of business in a movie such as TD still exists today. There aren’t many left. I also enjoy, however, looking at the actual physical structure of buildings for similarities. For example, your pics of Travis talking to Harvey Keitel outside of 204 East 13th St is pretty cool in that the bldg is still there and the columns are the same although painted a different color. Or the pics where Travis is waiting for Iris on 13th street between 2nd and 3rd Aves may demonstrate that the red door is no longer there, but the door to the adjacent bldg is the same one…In fact, I think that is the same fire hydrant in both pictures! I guess I’m weird for noticing these things.

    It is kind of strange that a number of establishments from the 1940s and 1950s still existed in the 1970s and early 1980s crossing generations. However, establishments from the 1970s no longer exist, although it is the same time frame in terms of the # of years that has passed. There has been such a tremendous change in NYC real estate over the past 30 years, where so much was torn down and rebuilt, which on the whole has been for the better, in my humble opinion.

    I also often wonder what was on the minds of NYers back then. I kind of wish I could just transport myself back to those times and just hear what the average conversation was like. I wonder what moviegoers thought of Taxi Driver when it was over. I’m sure many were put off by the violent ending back then but now we’ve been exposed to so much violence in movies and culture that we’re kind of desensitized to it all and the ending (which I still appreciate) probably wouldn’t be that shocking to many and probably has the look of low budget (since modern special effects and technology wasn’t available back then but what we are accustomed to today).

    Enough of my rant, but here are some movies/tv shows I would like to see you scout:

    Saturday Night Fever
    Taking of Pelham 123 (Original with Mathau)
    Welcome Back Kotter (I know Lafayette HS is in the intro but the intro scene where the person is riding the bike- which block is that?)
    Woody Allen movies
    The Warriors

    I’m sure there are many more possibilities.

  62. I really enjoyed this wonderful and thorough essay. Great job!

    I would love to see a post on The Godfather. I know a lot of it is on Long Island, but there are many major NYC locations that would be great to look at.

  63. First i thought that that’s strange, that no one has named those warehose-like buildings on the shoot of scene of Travis coming to that political rally. Unfortunately my guess was wrong: that is not Watchtower, Jehovah’s Witnesses world-HQ, it is situated left to the Brooklyn Bridge, so it’d be impossible to view it from this point for there is Manhattan bridge behind that building. Then i noticed that little tower on the top of warehose-building. I found out, that this is former factory (so-called Clock Tower Building) on 1, Main st in the area of vinegar Hills built in 1915 and recently turned into a condo. After a little so–would-be-called investigation (thank you, Google Maps & Streets, for i live far far away from NYC) i’ve come to a conclusion that it was shot somewhere on Washington st 103-115 (it’s now a trailer parking there) or little “deeper” in Brooklyn, on the Cadmar Plaza East, beyond the Brooklyn Bridge, which is more likely, but unfortunately i can’t check if it was there indeed, because there are no photos of that place in Google Streets.
    And you were right, that’s Brooklyn indeed:)

  64. Thanks so much for doing this! Brings back memories. Mcanns reminds me of a bar that used to be around the 90’s on Columbus Avenue, but I’m really not sure. But what I really wanted to let you know is that the grocery store where Travis first uses the gun was on Columbus Avenue between 87 th. and 88 th. streets. It and the Copper Penny (next to it in the photo you display) have been long gone. One hot summer night, a teeny tiny piece of footage from “Taxi Driver” was shot from my fire escape. It’s the piece were the boys are playing with the fire hydrant. Thanks again! & Much success to you!!!

  65. The scene where travis is speaking with the secret service agent at the rally is on Cadman Plaza West between Clark and Tillary in Brooklyn Heights.

  66. I’d like to see you do “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “The Out-of-Towners”. I might think of more later. Thanks!

  67. The dinner he takes Iris to eat at (With the Ginos ices stand in front) was on the SE corner 14th st and 3rd. It was a pizzeria and sleezy dinner all in one. It was below a massage parlor and up the block from the Jefferson Theatre. The bus I took home from school stopped in front of it and still does to this day (M-14). 14th street was a mini 42nd back in the 70’s full of hookers,pimps,dope fiends and porno theaters.

  68. I can tell you what happened to the purple “ROOMS” sign. Artist Walter Gurbo, who did “Walter Gurbo’s Drawing Room” on the back page of the Village Voice for many years, lived in that building (it was a regular apartment building, not a rooming house, at least since the early ’80s) and he bought it from the landlord. I think he had it in his daughter’s room? I lived on that block, 13th between Second and Third, for most of the ’80s and ’90s, and he was my instructor at the School of Visual Arts. I know he moved upstate, no idea if he still has the sign.

  69. David Cobb Craig

    Bravo! What a great job you did of birddogging the locations. Thanks for a great “Taxi” ride!

  70. The first still where DeNiro and Sheppard are walking is not 45th & Broadway. Look closely. It’s the crosswalk on the Westside of Broadway outside of the entrance to the now TW Building. Across the street from those two is the edge of the GW Building with Central Park behind it.

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