I had fun while in New York back in May 2008 tracing the footsteps of Tony Manero, footsteps that walked the streets of Brooklyn to the pulsating rhythm of “Stayin’ Alive.” Of course, Tony Manero, played by John Travolta, is the main character of the film, king of the (paint) store by day and the disco floor by night.
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge – Brooklyn, New York
The opening of the film starts with an aerial shot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island. From the point of view of the camera, Manhattan is visible in the background. There’s alot of significance to the scene. You can’t see Manhattan from down on the streets of Bay Ridge (well, not right here, you can’t). Manhattan is a “far away,” unattainable place to live. Beyond the bridge, and beyond reach of the Brooklyn kids who feel they’ll never get ahead. They can see Manhattan, as they will later climb the bridge and taunt Manhattan as they teeter along the edges of the bridge.
Here’s a photo I took of the bridge…from down on the ground, of course (as well as from the opposite direction).
Here’s an aerial shot of the bridge, taken by my daughter Amber during our flight to New York.
This is a sweet scene where the normally cool, cocky and wisecracking Tony comforts Stephanie by telling her all about the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. It was filmed at a park below the bridge.
The next scene is pretty dark – it was filmed below the Verrazano-Narrows, after one of Tony’s friends, Bobby C, falls from the bridge into the Narrows. After his death, Tony and his friends leave the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Here’s a photo of the same location.
Here’s the next part of the movie’s opening. It’s not the greatest split-second shot there is, but scene was filmed on 86th Street near Bay 23rd Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn (the movie is set in Bay Ridge). This is where Tony Manero, played by John Travolta, walked with the iconic paint can. Tony is just leaving Lenny’s Pizza, after purchasing two pizza slices and eating them “double-decker” style.
Pearson’s Bay Ridge Home Center – Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Tony’s walk with the paint can was to get a specific color of paint that the hardware store for which he worked didn’t have in stock. After getting the paint and pizza, he arrives back at Brothers Hardware, where he works.
Tony would have worn out a little more shoe leather to get from Bensonhurst to Bay Ridge, where the store is actually located (the film makes the two locations seem closer than they actually are). The store is now Pearson’s Bay Ridge Home Center, and got a makeover.
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
After Tony meets his match in Stephanie Mangano, they go out for coffee. In this scene, they are walking north on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge, toward a coffee shop at 94th Street. The area to the right is now a small park and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is visible in the background.
Not quite the same angle, but here I am in the park that was in the barren area above.
As Tony and Stephanie continue their walk north on 5th, they are crossing 94th Street, about to go to the coffee shop.
This photo was not quite at the same angle (I didn’t have the screenshots at the time), but this is from 5th Avenue, looking across the street. The delicatessen is now a bagel shop and the pizzeria is still operating.
I could have definitely used screen captures to get the right angles here, but oh well..here’s what I have.
This scene was shot was through the coffee shop window at 94th Street, looking northeast toward 5th Avenue at a Grand Union grocery store. Our photos are not at the same angles, but the next two photos in the set show the Mazda dealership (which this coffee shop became) and a Staples, which used to be the Grand Union in this photo.
This is the Mazda dealership which now occupies the coffee shop. The glass windows are where the scene above was filmed through. The white building in the background was the Grand Union above and is now a Staples. Compare the above photo of the Grand Union to the 2nd photo below.
Though again, we did not have any screen captures, we randomly took photos in this area, where the coffee shop scene was filmed. The Staples to the right is the Grand Union in our screen capture above, and the corner of the coffee shop (Mazda dealer) is visible to the left.
After leaving the coffee shop, Tony & Stephanie walk past Kelly’s Tavern, immediately to the north.
Kelly’s in May 2008.
The 2001 disco has been demolished, as was the White Castle they hung out in. The Manero house is in Bay Ridge, but has been remodeled and doesn’t look like it did in the film.
Hope you enjoyed your visit to Brooklyn! Now let’s head over to Junior’s and have some cheesecake! 🙂