With Gatto in tow, they take off driving down 5th Avenue at 45th Street, passing the Samuel French building on the right…
The killing takes place behind the Statue of Liberty’s watchful gaze in New Jersey…
…today known as Freedom Way, which cuts through Liberty State Park:
Michael goes to his father’s hospital and stays guard out front, helping to stave off a second assassination attempt.
This was shot at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx – not the current Lincoln Hospital on 149th Street, but its previous location at 140th Street & Southern Boulevard, since demolished.
Finding information and pictures of Old Lincoln Hospital is surprisingly hard – I’m not even quite sure when they tore it down. Here’s a picture of the hospital from its early days (it opened in 1899):
Today, it’s an enormous lot used by the NYPD.
Following his recovery, Corleone heads home via the hospital’s side ramp.
At the Corleone compound, security is tight. Very curious if they added the balcony for filming:
Michael decides to avenge his father by killing Sollozzo and the corrupt police captain McCluskey. A meeting is arranged, and he’s picked up in front of Jack Dempsey’s, a famous restaurant owned by the boxer at 1619 Broadway.
Up until recently, it was a computer store. Today, it’s empty.
They head over the GW Bridge, spooking Michael who wasn’t expecting a trip to New Jersey. Then, the car pulls a u-turn and heads back the other way.
This was actually shot on the 59th Street Bridge, back in a time when you could make a u-turn.
As expected, Sollozzo takes them to Louis Restaurant in the Bronx, located at 3531 White Plains Road.
Today, it’s a fabric store.
For some reason, a rumor has persisted that the scene was filmed in a place called Luna’s, which may or may not have been on Arthur Avenue. This is 100% not true. Louis was very much a real restaurant…
…and today it looks like this.
While most of it has changed, there are some remnants. The tin ceilings are in place…
Also, the owner was willing to pull up some of the carpet when Fox News took a trip up there, revealing that the distinctive tilework still exists:
As for the bathroom, where Michael finds the gun hidden behind the water box?
It’s been completely changed…
…but you can still see marks from where the water box was once mounted.
Michael takes off for Sicily (locations soon to be covered by sister site Scouting Italy) as a gang war breaks out in New York. Back in America, while leaving from a tryst with his goomah, Sonny is given the news that his brother-in-law Carlo is still beating his sister Connie. No clue where this building is – anyone recognize it? Note the distinctive pattern on the green brick. The storefront is for Lenny’s (can’t make out the surname), offering Printers Motor Repair & Maintenance.
Carlo is hanging out on a stoop wearing a killer orange outfit…
…which still exists today at 118th Street east of Mt. Pleasant Ave. You can even see the original width of the steps stretching beyond the new brick railings.
Here’s a full shot of the cobble-stoned street today:
As Carlo spots Sonny, we get a shot of kids playing in front of an open fire-hydrant.
That fire hydrant is still here, though has thankfully been repaired.
Sonny takes Carlo and beats him against a brick wall across the street from his stoop.
According to legend, the fight left actor Gianni Russo with broken ribs and a cracked elbow.
One last shot of Carlo down for the count.
Some time later, Sonny learns that despite his recent punishment, Carlo has again beaten up Connie. Sonny rushes out of the house for vengeance. Tom follows after…
As Sonny speeds toward the tollbooths and the site of his gruesome demise, we encounter one of the most misidentified locations in the film. The tollbooths were fake, but where exactly were they built?
While many will tell you Floyd Bennett Field (which may have been in contention as a shooting location early on), the scene was actually staged at the old Mitchel Air Force Base in Garden City, Long Island on Runway 5/23. Sadly, nearly all of Mitchel Field has disappeared beneath a college, an arena, a park, a museum, etc., etc., and it seem unlikely that the toll booth runway might still remain.
Except – see that strange yellowish u-shaped road in the top right corner? That’s the last bit of abandoned runway left over from Mitchel AFB, along with the small access road curving off of it. It’s on that access road where they shot The Godfather’s tollbooth scene.
Following the Google satellite image, I got as close to the runway as possible, parking in a Nassau County Community College parking lot. But where was it?
I headed toward the embankment…
…fought my way through a bunch of weeds…
…and there it was – Mitchel AFB’s abandoned runway.
Starting from the left, Sonny would have driven toward us, then turned onto that service road and curved around to the toll booths.
Here’s Sonny approaching on the main runway (the embankment has built up somewhat over the years):
Sonny pulls up to the tolls…
Thugs in front get out to shoot him…
…leaving Sonny a bloodied mess. I’d love to know if those white lines are left over from filming.
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