This post courtesy of Explore Brooklyn, an all-inclusive guide to the businesses, neighborhoods, and attractions that make Brooklyn great.
Brooklyn’s image has evolved drastically over the years, and nowhere is this more apparent than in its portrayal on celluloid. Manhattan can have its Breakfast at Tiffany’s glamour—Kings County is the site of gritty urban classics, many shot right here on the mean streets (that aren’t so mean anymore). Here are some classic local filming locations you can pay a visit to yourself.
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Who can forget a young John Travolta’s strut down the sidewalk to the groovy beat of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive?” That iconic opening shot was filmed on 86th Street in Bensonhurst, a South Brooklyn neighborhood that has retained much of its Italian-American character. You can even grab a slice at the same spot Tony Manero did, Lenny’s Pizza. Just be careful not to drop any tomato sauce on your disco boots.
Where to go: Lenny’s Pizza, 86th St. at 20th Ave.
Sonny’s robbery | via otsoNY
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
There is no First Brooklyn Savings Bank, where Sonny Wortzik’s (Al Pacino) robbery goes awry in this crime classic. The real-life hold-up that inspired Sidney Lumet’s film took place at a now-shuttered Chase Manhattan Bank in Sheepshead Bay. You can, however, visit the street where Dog Day’s crowd scenes were shot: a stretch of Prospect Park West in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood, just south of Brooklyn’s largest park.
Where to go: Prospect Park West between 17th and 18th Sts.
Stuyvesant Ave | via otsoNY
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Kings County–bred director Spike Lee shot his breakthrough movie on one block of the primarily African-American Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of north central Brooklyn. You won’t find Sal’s Famous Pizzeria, the nerve center of the film’s racial tensions, anywhere: Lee had the pizza joint built especially for the movie on a vacant lot at the corner of Stuyvesant and Lexington Avenues. But you can see pizza-delivery guy Mookie’s building (173 Stuyvesant Ave) and the first-floor window whence Mother Sister dispenses her judgment (167 Stuyvesant Ave).
Where to go: Stuyvesant Ave between Lexington Ave. and Quincy St.
The famous car chase | via otsoNY
The French Connection (1971)
The most famous car chase in cinema history careened beneath the elevated subway tracks in Bensonhurst—incidentally, right alongside where the Saturday Night Fever opening was filmed later in the decade. Narcotics detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle’s (Gene Hackman) increasingly battered Pontiac zooms beneath and alongside the tracks in pursuit of a hijacked train. We highly recommend minding the stoplights if you try the drive out for yourself. Or, you know, maybe just walk it.
Where to go: Stillwell Ave. to 86th St to New Utrecht Ave. underneath the D train tracks, ending at 62nd Street Station
The Warriors go for a stroll in Coney Island
The Warriors (1979)
The action of Walter Hill’s cult flick runs the length of New York City from the Bronx on down; but seeing as the Warriors hail from Coney Island, this gang bust-up’s heart is in Brooklyn. Near the end of the movie, our heroes make their way through the early-morning streets with the Cyclone and Deno’s Wonder Wheel behind them. After you check out the area, go ride these iconic rides for yourself instead of getting caught up in a rumble on the beach. (By which we mean: Warriors…come out to play-ay!)
Where to go: West 12th St. and Bowery St.
Pink Palace | via Google maps
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
The “Pink Palace” is no longer the arresting shade of rose it was when Alan J. Pakula shot his post-Holocaust drama; but the quirky, century-old building remains in Prospect Park South today. In the movie, it served as the exterior for the rooming house where the tortured Sophie Zawistowski lived—and its real story is pretty interesting, too. The Queen Anne–style mansion was built for Colonel Alexander Bacon, a Civil War vet and descendant of the English philosopher Francis Bacon, with stained-glass windows displaying the family coat of arms.
Where to go: 101 Rugby Rd. between Albemarle Rd. and Church Ave.