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Lights, Camera, Action: A Guide to New York's Famous Movie Locations

by Moderator February 2014 - last edited October

New York Skyline © jerryfergusonphotography.jpg

Ever since King Kong first scaled the Empire State Building back in 1933, New York City has been synonymous with the big screen. Its skyline and distinctive streets have featured in hundreds of Hollywood movies, making it one of the most instantly recognisable cities in the world. Visiting famous movie locations is a fun and interesting way of exploring the Big Apple, so we've highlighted some of the most popular movie locations across the city.

Get the inside track on movie scouting from location scout Nick Carr

Nick Carr is a movie location scout who specialises in picking out the best filming spots in New York City. He has worked on some of Hollywood's biggest motion pictures, most recently on the Oscar nominated Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo Di Caprio. Listen to his interview with influential film blogger and screenwriter Stuart Wright, in which he discusses the challenges of his job and how New York City is portrayed on the big screen.


Manhattan has been the setting for some of Hollywood's most memorable movies, few more so than the 1976 cult classic Taxi Driver. Location scout Nick Carr describes the film, starring Robert De Niro, as "the quintessential New York Movie." Wander down 8th Avenue and Times Square and you'll no doubt recognise the streets and buildings from the film, which depicted a dark and grimy 1970s New York.

Manhattan in general is awash with movie locations, so why not check out some of these hot spots in the heart of the Big Apple:

  • Hook & Ladder 8 Fire Station: Number 14 North Moore Street is a must-visit address for any self-respecting Ghostbusters fan. Here you'll find yourself staring at Hook & Ladder 8, aka The Ghostbusters headquarters. The exterior has barely changed since the film was shot and the outside pavement features the Ghostbusters emblem.

Hook & Ladder 8 © Ewan-M.jpg

Hook & Ladder 8 © Ewan-M
  • Cortlandt Alley: As Nick Carr explains in his interview with Stuart Wright, there are in fact only a handful of genuine alleys in New York, of which Cortlandt is the most used movie location. So take a stroll and snap some photos of this classic Manhattan alley, which most recently featured in the Men in Black 3 trailer.

Cortlandt Alley © PaulSteinJC.jpg

Cortlandt Alley © PaulSteinJC
  • Greenwich Village: This charismatic neighbourhood is the location for the latest Coen Brothers movie Inside Llewyn Davis, which can be enjoyed on-board Virgin Atlantic flights over the coming months.


Cross the Brooklyn Bridge and head into the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn for a chance to walk the streets featured in the 70s dance classic Saturday Night Fever. It was the movie that catapulted John Travolta, aka Tony Manero, into superstardom. 37 years have passed since shooting wrapped in Brooklyn, but the key locations still remain. You can grab a bite to eat at Lenny's; the pizza joint which Travolta stops by during those famous opening scenes. The hardware store where he worked is still doing business, as is the dance studio where he honed his skills.

The Bronx

Situated just north of Manhattan, The Bronx has long held a reputation as New York's grittiest borough, but there have been considerable changes in recent years. Whilst many films set in The Bronx have actually been shot in other parts of the city, films like Finding Forrester starring Sean Connery were filmed in the borough. It's also home to the stunning New York Botanical Garden, in which several scenes for Awakenings, starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, were shot in 1990.

New York Botanical Garden, The Bronx © JessyeAnne.jpg

New York Botanical Garden © JessyeAnne

Staten Island

Hop on the ferry to Staten Island and prepare to visit 'The Mansion' – the house which featured in the opening scenes of The Godfather. Make your way to the home on 110 Longfellow Road, in the affluent Emerson Hill area, and catch a glimpse of the garden where the outdoor wedding scenes were shot. And don't forget to check out Nick Carr's guide to The Godfather's filming locations throughout the city.

The 'Corleone Compound' as seen in The Godfather © Thomas Good.jpg

The 'Corleone Compound' as seen in The Godfather © Thomas Good


Queens is the largest of the five New York boroughs, lying in the eastern part of the city. On the big screen, it has been portrayed in hit films such as Eddie Murphy's Coming to America, and more recently it featured in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, which follows the rise and fall of stock broker Jordan Belfort. If you make the trip to Queens, stop by the Shalimar Diner on 63rd Drive and Austin Street. The diner was used to shoot several key scenes of the film, in which Belfort (played by Di Caprio) dines with his friends and soon-to-be colleagues.

Shalimar Diner © Goosefriend.jpg

Shalimar Diner © Goosefriend

Header photo © jerryfergusonphotography

Fancy exploring the Big Apple's top movie locations for yourself? Browse cheap flights to New York from Virgin Atlantic and book your direct flight from London Heathrow today. Our Little Red domestic service enables you to travel to New York via London from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester.

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About the author: Maxine

Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.