The movie locations of Chinatown, Little Italy and the Lower East Side

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Martí Micolau

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In our New York film itinerary we now move to three historic and at the same time very iconic areas of Manhattan: Lower East Side, Chinatown and “our” Little Italy.

PS: We have made a free ebook dedicated to the most famous film locations in New York. You can find it at This Page.


  • Route map
  • Location di Lower East Side
    • Collateral Beauty, Shards of April
    • Generation um, If you leave me I will erase you and Everything can change
    • The Devil wears Prada and Mr Cobbler and the magic shop
  • Location di Little Italy
    • The Sopranos, The Godfather and Serpico
  • Location of Chinatown
    • Sex List, Final Verdict and Spiderman
    • Just let it work, Limitless and The Player 
    • Joker and Very strong, incredibly close

Route map

Location di Lower East Side

We are in the southern area of ​​Manhattan, the most historic on the island; the one that hosted the first settlements of European settlers at the dawn of New York and the exponential growth of penniless immigrants from all over. The populous brown and black buildings of the old Lower East Side ward proudly reveal all their years; these somewhat obsolete buildings, adorned with discolored posters and colorful graffiti covering their deep cracks, give the neighborhood a decidedly underground air.

The narrow alleys and the essential fire escape stairs clinging to their facades complete the most alternative and authentic scenario of Manhattan. The austere style of these streets, however, is embellished by some avant-garde art galleries and apparently rough but new generation venues.

The mosaic of ethnic groups that has been composed along these streets over the years is reflected in the internationality of the restaurants that offer a cuisine that is rich and, at the same time, decidedly economic compared to the standards of the city.

Collateral Beauty, Shards of April

Before approaching the view of the Lower East Side, refuel at (1) Remedy Diner, at 245 Houston Street. The diner, open 24 hours a day, offers excellent dishes for both breakfast and meals. Succulent pancakes are waiting to be enjoyed accompanied by fresh fruit and maple syrup.

In this same place, an unhappy and discouraged Howard Inlet (Will Smith), in the film “Collateral Beauty”(2016), is surprised during dinner by the personification of Love (Keira Knightley), to the background notes of“ Word of Love ”(Sharon Jones). The noblest of her feelings begs him to listen to her, reminding him that:

"You are helpless towards me as long as you are alive because I am the fabric of life, I am inside you, I am inside everything: Howard, if you can accept this, I don't know, but it is likely that you will live again."

At 141 of the run-down Ridge Street it is located April Burns' (2) apartment (Katie Holmes) in the little known film “Shards of April"(2003). The comedy revolves around Thanksgiving, in which the family's reckless "black sheep" invites her parents to her quirky, seedy little studio flat on the forgotten Lower East Side.

During the preparation of the stuffed turkey, however, April discovers that the oven is out of order and so sets off in search of someone who, among the mixture of ethnic groups that live in the building, can cook lunch. The setting and the photography of the film presented at the Sundance Film Festival bring to mind all the precariousness and old age of the neighborhood. For this performance, the talented Patricia Clarkson, as the superb and intractable mom, received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

generation around If you leave me I will cancel you and Everything can change

The indie and not very popular film, "generation um...”(2012), was shot entirely in New York, mainly between the Lower East Side and Alphabet City. The protagonist, John Wall, played by Keanu Reeves, is a lost soul who wanders in misery and depression. (3) Rivington Street, where he usually strolls, best represents its intricate and kaleidoscopic spirit. In the film, the “Nathan Straus” playground and the pawnshop at number 177 appear.

For a living, John acts as an evening driver for the escorts Mia (Adelaide Clemens) and Violet (Bojana Novakovic). On the occasion of his birthday, the young and wild call girls get high in the company of him at the (4) Motor City Bar, al 127 Ludlow Street.

The restaurant (now replaced by the more modern "Set L.E.S.”) Was a typical neighborhood pub; a place that could be defined as "A good dirty, down-home bar".

"Maybe I should get it over with Joel: I should leave you at the flea market in the middle of cheap trinkets, in a nice old rocking chair to die on it."

This is the last sentence that Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) utters before fading into one of Joel Barish's (Jim Carrey's) headless memories in “If you leave me I delete you”(2004), a masterpiece by director Michael Gondry (of which he is also the screenwriter and winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay).

The heated quarrel between the two protagonists takes place at (5) Sunday Market of Orchard Street, the most commercial and well-kept street on the Lower East Side. Clem and Joel are two opposite characters and during their troubled history they often find themselves arguing eagerly enough to get to want to cancel each other out of their heads; however: "You can wipe someone out of your mind, but to get them out of your heart is another matter entirely." 

The penniless and upset music producer in full personal and financial difficulty Dan Mulligan (Mark Ruffalo), in the film “Everything can change"(2013), lives at 102 Allen Street. L'(6) Dan's home it fully reflects the spirit and the somewhat unkempt and inconclusive aspect of the protagonist of the successful musical comedy.

The Devil wears Prada and Mr Cobbler and the magic shop

Curiously, in the films of the second half of the 2000s, "The devil wears Prada"(2006) and"P.s. I Love you” (2007), the (7) the houses of the female protagonists of the two films, respectively Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) and Holly Kennedy (Hilary Swank), belong to the same building but with separate entrances at the contiguous numbers 252 and 254 of Broome Street.

Since the shooting, the building has been completely renovated; the particular red color of the entrance doors has been repainted with a more elegant black and, on the contrary, the entire brick facade has gone from a smog black to a creamy white. Andrea, leaving the door of the apartment where she lives with her boyfriend, goes to the interview at the fashion magazine "Runway”With a decidedly too casual glare for the very elegant future colleagues of Middle Manhattan.

Before leaving the Lower East Side, a further connection with the cinema is represented by the (8) Mr. Cobbler's Workshop, al 114 Forsyth Street.

The comedy "Mr Cobbler and the magic shop”Is a 2014 film directed by Tom McCarthy starring Adam Sandler as cobbler Max Simkin, disappointed by the repetitive life he leads in the neighborhood. However, one day, he discovers that among the many forgotten objects in his laboratory, there is one capable of giving him a new life marked by the wonders of magic ...

Location di Little Italy

Little Italy in Manhattan brings to mind a series of gangster movies that have unfortunately formed the mortar of the Italian-American stereotype abroad. Few material features remain of the neighborhood inhabited en masse by migrants until the XNUMXs, but it still retains an atmosphere made up of typically Mediterranean colors, sounds and scents.

In the windows of the restaurants, old relics are kept, symbols of past nostalgia. Even if the new generations have gone elsewhere and the confined Chinatown is incorporating the old blocks colonized by the Italians, still today in Mulberry Street the feast of San Gennaro is celebrated, which, for New Yorkers from the Belpaese, is a way to meet and spend time together.

The Sopranos, The Godfather and Serpico

In the award-winning television series, "And Soprano"(1999 - 2007), although the intricate events of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) & Co. are mostly filmed in New Jersey, some sequences, used as a reference to Italian classicism, were shot in some emblematic places in Little Italy: the (9) Caffè Roma and (11) Caffè Palermo, are located at 385 Broome street and 148 Mulberry Street respectively.

The New York Times of this HBO series writes: "The greatest work of American pop culture of the last quarter of a century". The (10) Mulberry Street Bar it is perhaps the most represented restaurant / bar in the neighborhood in Hollywood films and, certainly, Frank Sinatra's favorite.

In addition to appearing in the aforementioned and infamous television series, he is also immortalized in two great global hits such as: "Donnie Brasco"(1997) and"The Godfather - Part III"(1990). The cinematic references of this New York bar, whose tables have always been set up with red and white checkered tablecloths in the typical Spanish style, are proudly displayed in the voluminous exterior windows and framed on the interior walls.

In this bar, in business since 1908, the infiltrator Joseph D. Pistone alias Donnie Brasco (Johnny Depp) has his first contact with Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero (Al Pacino), a soldier of the New York Bonanno family. An initial misunderstanding between the two gives rise to the disappointment of the mafioso which results in a rough outburst in suffrage of his universally recognized honor:

“My family, my children, my mother go around with their heads held high; in every district of this city they can walk around with their heads held high; in all five districts they know who they are. What do I tell you to do! They know who I am in this whole shit world! Ask whoever you like! Whoever you like, ask for Lefty, the one from Mulberry Street! You are pissing on the wrong tree my friend… ”.

In the last act of "The Godfather"The future boss Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia), spends time in the company of his cousin Mary Corleone (Sofia Coppola) in the most private room of the club to talk about their family's past:" Sonny was the prince of the city; he died before I was born but I have heard of him as a legend ”.

The two, before entering the Italian café, turn to look at the window of the current offices of Genco Olive Oil Import Co, the company developed by their grandfather and godfather Vito Corleone, on the opposite side of the street. Actually in the first part of the trilogy, "The Godfather"(1972), the front office where the Corleone family conducts its more or less legal business, is located at street level at the (13) Mietz Building al 128 Mott Street.

In one of the film's opening sequences, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) receives the sight of Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) to discuss a business proposal. The boss's resolute but thoughtful refusal triggers a series of events that will cause major imbalances in the subtle balance between the powerful families of the New York underworld.

Now exasperated by the rampant corruption among his fellow policemen, the upright and courageous agent Frank Serpico (Al Pacino), in the 1973 film of the same name (Serpico), buy a weapon at the store (12) John Jovino Firearms, still in business today and still located at 183 Grand Street.

Location of Chinatown

Proceeding south on Mulberry Street or Mott Street, the tricolor signs gradually give way to logograms of obvious Asian origin and Sicilian ice creams, cappuccinos and cannoli are replaced by the sale of xiao long bao (ravioli), green tea and dragon fruit : Chinatown.

About half of all Chinese-born New Yorkers live in this area from Canal Street in the north to the financial district in the south. On the occasion of the first new moon between January 21 and February 9, the New Year is celebrated in the streets of the neighborhood. The great papier-mâché dragon, kept in the Chinese museum (MOCA – 215 Center Street), is carried around the main streets of Chinatown animating the party and making the atmosphere incredibly suggestive.

Sex List, Final Verdict and Spiderman

This area is not, to tell the truth, among the most popular in terms of appearances on the big screen. However, the fascinating (14) intersection of Pell Street and Doyer Street was the scene of three cinematic sequences featured in the following films: "Sex List - Homicide to three"(2008),"Final Verdict"(1989) and"The Amazing Spiderman 2"(2014).

The protagonist of the intricate noir, accountant Jonathan McQuarry (Ewan McGregor), secretly meets the delightful and enigmatic S. (Michelle Williams) here to spend a fleeting night in Chinatown.

Doyer Street is a serpentine alley that runs from Pell Street to the Bowery. In the evening it is very charming thanks to its informal cafes open late which attract many New Yorkers for dinner. The famous Apotheke bar (former opium den, at number 9), it is really trendy and serves refined cocktails prepared with care by top-level bartenders.

In "Final verdict”(1989), the lawyer Eddie Dodd (James Woods), who has become cynical and greedy over the years, is involved in the defense of a poor Korean who has been wrongly accused of murder. The investigation of the case starts him on the streets of the famous Asian neighborhood.

Only the invincible Spider-Man can protect his fellow citizens from the bad guys who constantly threaten New York. In "The Amazing Spiderman 2”(2014), however, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), the alter-ego of the masked hero, has as a weak point the love he feels for the beautiful Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone); to prevent it from being involved in dangerous criminal plots, he makes the decision to leave it among the colorful signs of a deserted Chinatown.

As long as it works, Limitless and The Player 

Beyond the Bowery, (15) Catherine Street it is certainly one of the most hyperactive and lively streets in the Chinese quarter. Some historic food shops have been immortalized in Woody Allen's film "Just let it work"(2009). In fact, the protagonist Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David), loves walking in these streets, extricating himself among the fruit stalls and shopping in the New Sam Kee Jan butcher's shop. at 24 Catherine Street or in the rotisserie of Cheong Ming at number 19.

THE(16) Edward "Eddie" Morra's apartment (Bradley Cooper), in the film “Limitless"(2011), is located at 19 Henry Street. The unmistakable columned hallway painted in a flamboyant aquamarine green color is clearly staged when the protagonist is driven home in a limousine by powerful new business partner Carlos “Carl” Van Loon (Robert De Niro).

There a few steps away, in the dirty and reluctant basement of the civic (17) 25 at Henry Street, about a decade earlier, Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) and Lester "Worm" Murphy (Edward Norton) had joined the cult movie "Player"(1998). The two friends are forced to go into Grama's (Michael Rispoli) lair to find a financial deal with the same low-ranking gangster.

joker e Very strong and Incredibly Close

Going further south on the island, in the district called Two Bridges, because it actually corresponds to the area between two bridges (Brooklyn and Manhattan), you can reconstruct the scene from the film "Joker”(2019) in which the protagonist (Joaquin Phoenix) runs off running scared of having witnessed a crime scene. The sequence was shot under the(18) Arcata del Manhattan Bridge, near Cherry Street.

On the same (19) Manhattan Bridge, in the touching and dramatic film "Very strong and Incredibly Close”(2011), the teenage protagonist Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), has a phobia of public transport and bridges. To begin the treasure hunt traced by his father Thomas (Tom Hanks), however, he is forced to go to the Fort Greene neighborhood in Brooklyn, on the other side of the East River. Oskar chooses to run, and, armed with his tambourine, walks past the Manhattan Bridge, overcoming at least one of his anxieties.

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