Top 8 Iconic New York City Film Locations

Walking in New York City is akin to strolling through legendary movie sets. From Central Park to Madison Avenue, you’re reminded of the classics. From a young age, the films of New York fascinated me, be it the Martin Scorsese classic Goodfellas, to my childhood favourite Home Alone. I’ve longed to see the iconic locations with my own eyes and let me tell you, visiting the Big Apple to discover them for yourself is a heavy dose of nostalgia and excitement.

In this deep dive into the top New York City film locations, Tyla Fergusson-Platt, travel writer at One Planet Journey, maps out a tour of places to visit and how to get there, sprinkled with expert insight from Professor Stanley Corkin, author of Starring New York: Filming the Grime and Glamour of the Long 1970s.

Shut storefront of Caffe Roma in Little Italy.
Caffe Roma in Little Italy, New York – a famous film location in Little Italy

Mafia film locations in New York City


Mean Streets

Little Italy is quintessential Scorsese. In every nook and cranny of the small neighbourhood, there is a reminder of his filmography. In fact, Martin Scorsese grew up here, on Elizabeth Street, along with long-time collaborator Robert De Niro. The Little Italy of his childhood has changed beyond recognition. The buildings and shop fronts are still here, but gentrification has eaten away at the communities that once called it home. In some ways, it has become a theme park version of itself. Faux ambience exudes from the restaurant facades, with Frank Sinatra bellowing out yet another rendition of New York, New York on the loudspeakers.

Professor Stanley Corkin, author of Starring New York: Filming the Grime and Glamour of the Long 1970s, tells me how Little Italy has changed since the 1970s.

“The shell of that community exists as a matter of nostalgia, tied to restaurants that largely cater to tourists. Little Italy is (now) a place where any number of New Yorkers of all ethnicities, seeking affordable housing in a very expensive market, reside.”

I’ve yearned to visit the locations the films depicted in all their dark, gritty glory, immersing myself in the worlds the directors created. As Scorsese retells in Scorsese on Scorsese.

“In our neighbourhood you’d hear rock and roll playing in the little bars in the back of the tenement buildings at three in the morning, so that was ‘Be My Baby’Mean Streets had the best music because it was what I enjoyed, and it was part of the way we lived.”

It is still possible to visit the spots of one of Scorsese’s classics, Mean Streets. The beauty is that most of the scenes are located close to each other in the centre of Little Italy, for example, Mulberry street, the central point of the neighbourhood. You might recognise it from the San Gennaro festival scene in Mean Streets.

A red and green neon sign stating Welcome to Little Italy, hanging over a  lively street.
Welcome to Little Italy – a much changed neighbourhood in New York City.

Location: Mulberry Street
Address: 253 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

Directions: The closest station to Mulberry St is Prince St which is 168 yards away, a 3 min walk. Mulberry Street is one street adjacent to Elizabeth Street and is easy to find from here.

The facade of IFC Theatre in New York with a yellow cab driving in front.
The IFC Theatre – a piece of the golden age of cinema in New York.

The IFC theatre, formerly The Waverly Theatre, is also featured in a drive-by shot in Mean Streets and is a New York landmark with a cinema located here since 1938. It still has the original large signage from the golden age of cinema and is a must see for all film fans. In the changing landscape of New York there are few surviving theatres from that time, and this is a good chance to see one in all its glory.

Address: 323 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10014
Phone: +1 212-924-7771
Instagram: @ifccentre

Directions: Take the Metro A, B, C, D, E, F or M to the West 4th Street/Washington Square stop or the 1 to Christopher Street/Sheridan Square.


Godfather Part I & II

Further up Mulberry Street, you have a New York architectural icon. It’s featured in countless movies, including Mean Streets and most famously in the Godfather. The beating heart of Little Italy is St Patrick’s old Cathedral, showcasing weddings, funerals, and baptisms on the silver screen, highlighting its importance to the community. Francis Ford Coppola made use of the principal centre of Little Italy in Godfather part II, where the San Gennaro festival serves as the backdrop during the climatic closing scenes of the film. The festival takes place throughout Little Italy, from the 14th – 24th of September.


I asked Professor Corkin why the Godfather still connects with audiences today.

“As I wrote in Starring New York, the Godfather and Godfather II is a resonant melodrama of the immigrant experience, and particularly the white, ethnic immigrant experience in the US. It features a place that is inviting—not desolate, not squalid—that locates and relatively idealises the past, bathing it in sepia tones, featuring the embrace of community and offering the hope of mobility, even as that upward arch of fortunes is with personal cost. It nostalgically locates New York City in the early twentieth century as the stuff of immigrants’ dreams.”

Address: 263 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012
Phone: +1 212-226-8075
Instagram: @oldcathedral

Directions: Use Prince St which is a mere 3 min walk. You find Mulberry Street one street away from Elizabeth Street.



Ever since I could remember, I wanted to be a gangster.

As the immortal words ring out during the starting credits, you know you’re in for a treat. Unlike other older titles shot in New York, much of the locations remain intact. Long travel times can become an issue, but the vast metro network makes it a fairly straightforward task. From Manhattan to Queens, Goodfellas covers huge swathes of the city.

Bar area in Neir’s Tavern with customers watching screens behind the bar.
Neir’s Tavern – a legendary bar in New York

A top place to visit is Neir’s Tavern, one of the oldest bars in New York, at 200 years old. It serves as the set for the celebratory drink following the infamous Lufthansa Heist in the movie. Framed pictures of customers recreating the scene, like Jimmy the Gent (played by Robert De Niro), adorn the walls. Sitting at the table facing the famous doorway, you half-expect De Niro or Joe Pesci to step through the door. The owner, used to gawking tourists, is happy enough to answer questions about Goodfellas.

Address: 87-48 78th St. Woodhaven, NY 11421
Phone: +1 718-296-0600
Instagram: @neirstavern

Directions: Take the metro to Jamaica Av/77 St which is 308 yards to Neirs Tavern, a 4 minute walk away.

Red and green neon lights on the glass facade of a diner.
The Sherwood Diner in South Queens, New York

In South Queens, along a busy highway, lies a beautiful, still intact diner, called Sherwoods. The original Goodfellas gangsters met here after the Lufthansa heist. The owner of the business pointed out the exact table where they sat after the robbery. A woman in a booth adjacent overheard the conversation and sheepishly explained how her father-in-law knew the gangsters, laughing as she told me of his job as a bookie. Walking into the establishment is like stepping back in time. One of the waitresses even had a pitch perfect New York accent, a spitting image of Karen in the movie.

Address: 311 Rockaway Turnpike, Lawrence, NY 11559
Phone: +1 516-371-4616
Instagram: @sherwooddiner

Directions: Take the metro to Jamaica and switch to the Q114 bus from 42 St-Port Authority Bus Terminal, stop at Rockaway turnpike.


Romance and comedy film locations in New York City


Breakfast at Tiffany’s

You can find the Tiffany building between Central Park and Trump Tower, in an iconic area of downtown New York. In the unforgettable opening of the film, a young Audrey Hepburn gets out of a yellow cab, gazing at the beautiful jewellery in the shop window, with the soft notes of Moon River playing in the background. The facade has changed little from the 1960s, and it’s not unusual to see fans paying homage. During my visit, one such superfan came dressed in full Audrey Hepburn attire, complete with oversized sunglasses, black dress, and a pearl necklace.

Street facade of Tiffany & Co with US flag hanging above.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

Not only the clothing exuded Hepburn. As we went inside, she offered to show me around, “come on darling, let me give you a tour”. She led the way with purpose in her step, a Shiatsu dog in tow. At the far end of the ground floor, the original Tiffany necklace worn by Hepburn, is yours to behold. Upstairs, a small museum houses an exact replica of the black dress. A smartly attired shop assistant is on hand to retell the complete history of the film in relation to the store and answers questions you might be burning to ask. This being New York, there is now even the opportunity to breakfast at Tiffany’s. I kid you not.

Black dress made famous by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Replica of the famous Audrey Hepburn dress

Address: 727 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10022
Phone: +1 212-755-8000
Instagram: @tiffanyandco

Directions: The nearest subway station to Tiffany & Co. – 5th Avenue in Manhattan is 57 St-7 Av. It’s a 1 min walk away.


Annie Hall

Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s influential creation which rocketed him to fame, is one of the most iconic romantic comedies set in New York. Sadly, out of all the films covered in the article, Annie Hall’s locations have survived little from the 1960s. Vast swathes of buildings now no longer exist, as the ever evolving metropolis redefines itself. However, the well-known spot of the Central Park Zoo remains open for visits. Central Park itself has played host to almost 200 movies, so a walk around this famous green lung of New York will no doubt stir memories of other classics, for example our last movie down below.

Central Park Zoo information plack and entrance.
Central Park Zoo – remember it from Annie Hall?

Professor Stanley Corkin explained why cinemas in particular have changed in New York.

“Alas, Woody Allen was a cinephile who discovered New York’s many feature and repertory theatres as a young comedy writer in the mid-fifties to mid-sixties. That element of New York has ceased to exist. Not only were the Beekman and New Yorker theatres on the East Side, and pictured in the film, shut in 2005 and 2019, but many theatres, especially the repertory/art variety on the west side, also closed their doors. Movie going has declined significantly in the 21st century as production companies have moved to other forms of exhibition. At the same time, the demand for commercial and residential real estate in Manhattan has made theatres a remnant from another era.”

Address: East 64th Street, New York, NY 10021, United States
Phone: +1 212-439-6500
Instagram: @centralparkzoo

Directions: Take the N, R, or W trains to the Fifth Avenue/59th Street station in Manhattan, and walk north four blocks to 64th Street.


Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Anyone who grew up in the 1990s will have fond recollections of this comedy caper. With a guest appearance from Donald Trump at the Plaza Hotel (which he owned at the time), it sticks long in the memory. If you are already visiting the Tiffany building and Central Park, The Plaza is only a hop, skip, and a jump away, one of the most famous hotels in New York. Further up near Tiffany stands an even more prominent structure used in Home Alone. Trump Tower. Following Donald Trump’s election victory in 2016, it has become an attraction in itself.

For those of you wanting to round off your New York holiday with more Home Alone 2 locations, don’t miss these bonus tips; Battery Park, Carnegie Hall, and Fulton Fish Market. The movie is shock full of New York City must-sees.


Address: 768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019, United States
Phone: +1 212-759-3000
Instagram: @theplazahotel

Directions: The nearest subway station to the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan is 57 St-7 Av. It’s a 1 min walk.

What movies set in New York are your favourites? What city film locations should we cover next? Let us know in the comment section! Subscribe to our newsletter and benefit from tips, interviews, and more inspirational examples of deep travel.


2 thoughts on “Top 8 Iconic New York City Film Locations”

  1. Great job Tyla – bringing back a lot of memories of living in NYC in the 90s before Union Square and Columbus Circle got rebuilt – looking forward to reading more of your articles 🙂

  2. Very engaging and illuminating read, Tyla! Bravo for investigating so many iconic NYC locations in the time you had. Looking forward to new articles, and to reading prior ones.

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