New York, You've Changed
October 15, 2009 10:32 AM   Subscribe

A New York City film location scout (mentioned before, here and here) revisits the scenes of the movie Taxi Driver (1976) and compares them to what's there now.

Previously, he covered the movie Ghost Busters (1984).
posted by monospace (28 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I did that sort of thing when I lived in NYC for a short while (fall 1993-winter 1994). Believe it or not, I couldn't find a copy of The Warriors in my neighborhood, so I couldn't reproduce their journey from Pelham Bay Park to Coney Island. Plenty of other fun movie-touristing, though.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:43 AM on October 15, 2009

Also, I've heard that, if you really want to get a feel for Little Italy before it was mostly absorbed (save for a jealously-protected enclave) by Chinatown, the movie to catch is Mean Streets, although I'm not personally inclined to revisit any of Scorcese's catalog right now, because of the Polanski thing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:47 AM on October 15, 2009

Great links, thanks. I have this blog on my Netvibes since the last time it was on the blue, but haven't checked it a lot lately. This is cool though.
posted by jckll at 11:01 AM on October 15, 2009

I get the feeling he doesn't like glass and steel buildings...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:04 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm a sucker for any then/now location roundup. I get sad when I see the old Variety Arts Theater. What a drag to see that new tower in its place. I saw They Might Be Giants play at VAT on the Apollo 18 tour and it was a great night.
posted by JBennett at 11:04 AM on October 15, 2009

I'm almost inclined to try to do the same thing with SCTV locations in Edmonton.

But someone already did.
posted by mazola at 11:06 AM on October 15, 2009

What a great find! If you're into this kind of urban archaeology, there's an amazing book called Silent Echoes that does the same thing for the films of Buster Keaton... 1920s Los Angeles is definitely the past as another country.
posted by speedlime at 11:16 AM on October 15, 2009

re: SCTV.

It's missing the Fort Edmonton locations for Pepi Longsocks, so I guess there's still room for research!
posted by mazola at 11:17 AM on October 15, 2009

links are 503 for me. looks like needs a new host. cool idea, though.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:28 AM on October 15, 2009

I'm a sucker for any then/now location roundup

Me too, which is why these poorly-organized, badly-labeled blog posts disappointed me. Throwing random other images in makes it really hard to know what is supposed to match what.
posted by DU at 11:33 AM on October 15, 2009

"poorly-organized, badly-labeled blog posts disappointed me"

Organization is as the order in which the locations appear in the film (probably shouldn't start with Part 3 to avoid confusion). I'm not sure what random other images you're talking about, if you read the text, it should be quite clear on what is what.

Server is lagging but eventually works.
posted by 3rdrate at 11:40 AM on October 15, 2009

if you read the text

posted by DU at 11:41 AM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks for listing my site yet again. I messed with some plug-ins, and there should be no more lags or 503s.

Quick note, the point of the series is to examine how New York has changed since 1976, not to make the same old list of shooting locations you can get on dozens of film websites. I didn't forget the hotel, but getting access to the actual room proved to be a problem. I'm hoping to get up there in the future, but honestly, it doesn't really add much to the theme of the series (as the Times Square stuff does, for example). Also, you never see its exterior in the film.
posted by nycscout at 12:08 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

As always, I admire your efforts. Turns out I was wrong anyway. After rewatching the scene I noticed that the building must have been right on top of the "Pineapple St. Walk" in whatever old building was here. My next guess would be that it was shot in a room in the large building seen in this photo from a west facing window.
posted by JBennett at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2009

You mean it wasn't shot in Toronto?
posted by storybored at 12:33 PM on October 15, 2009

Somebody ought to do this for Rumble in the Bronx.
posted by Flashman at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

I walked right past that Japanese restaurant and Gothic Cabinet Craft on 3rd and 13th last night on the way to Nevada Smith's. Had no idea that's where the climactic shootout was filmed. Neighborhood sure has changed.
posted by stargell at 1:20 PM on October 15, 2009

Streetwalkers were ubiquitous in 1970s Manhattan, so every film shoot always had a dozen or so extras dressed conspicuously as prostitutes for street scenes. I remember one shoot up at East 86th and Third, which always had (believe it or not) a handful anyone of real prostitutes stationed on the corners. These gals took an interest in the shoot, and clustered up at the police barrier not ten feet from where the film "prostitutes" waited for the next take, so that one was able to, in a glance, compare the real with the celluloid item. The upshot: the real ladies of the night were easily identifiable as prostitutes, but they looked like plain little sparrows compared to their slender, pale-skinned, gaudily dressed make-believe counterparts. (1970s pimps, however, really were as garish as they appear in the blaxploitation films.) New York in the 1970s was a bazaar of weirdness that films like "Taxi Driver" barely get close to. The film that best captures the texture of that time is "French Connection".
posted by Faze at 1:44 PM on October 15, 2009

Ya, I love this kind of stuff. The guy's point-of-view seems a bit conflicted, though. He mentions throughout how depressing it is that old things are torn down and then sums it all up by saying if you don't like it you should move to another city.
posted by chococat at 1:47 PM on October 15, 2009

wow, "Corporate Sterility" is the new "Glittery Tackiness." I preferred the glittery tackiness.
posted by peppito at 1:52 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I preferred the glittery tackiness.

Came with an awful lot of unpleasant baggage.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:20 PM on October 15, 2009

I had a coworker who drove a taxi in the late seventies and ate at the Belmore. His name was Ruby and he had a deformed face as a result of a childhood cooking accident. One ear looked like melted wax. The skin around one unblinking eye was an angry reddish purple.

He was an old-school character. Lived in a rentcontrolled apartment. Never paid his rent on time. Always in and out of landlord-tenant court. Talked CONSTANTLY but he always had something interesting to say, which made it entertaining, not annoying.

Would talk about his performance issues unashamedly, even with women in the room.

I miss Ruby.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:40 PM on October 15, 2009

Somebody ought to do this for Rumble in the Bronx.

Yeah, especially for that scene atop a building with the big snowy mountains in the background. I was in New York recently and the mountains are no longer there! Quite an amazing engineering feat; I would love to know more about how that was accomplished.
posted by Emanuel at 4:22 PM on October 15, 2009

I thought those were the Catskills.
posted by Flashman at 5:02 PM on October 15, 2009

Oh, so they just kind of "ground down" those jagged peaks. Makes sense.
posted by Emanuel at 5:21 PM on October 15, 2009

The film that best captures the texture of that time is "French Connection"

That and the 7-ups and Taking Pelham and the Anderson Tapes - all of which made NY completely cool to me.

I know I'm swimming upstream - but I loved that NY and I can't stomach what's happened to Manhattan, in particular.
posted by victors at 1:07 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I know I'm swimming upstream

Actually, judging from similar threads, you're in quite large company. Not my company, as it happens - and I understand your objections to NYC as it now is - but to each his own.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:52 AM on October 16, 2009

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