After Hours (1985)

At a time when director Martin Scorsese was considered “box office poison,” he made a low-budget dark comedy in the summer of 1984, shot on location almost entirely in Manhattan’s SoHo.

“After Hours” tells the story of an bland office drone named Paul (Griffin Dunn) who travels from his Upper East Side pad to the artsy SoHo neighborhood to hook up with a girl he met at a coffee shop. Over the course of one evening, he encounters a gallimaufry of quirky late-night characters, and slowly descends into a surreal circle of hell as the neighborhood turns against him. 

Aside from showcasing some great New York locations, “After Hours” is filled with wonderful character actors from the 80s, some of whom were relatively unknown. The cast includes Rosanna Arquette, Teri Garr, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara, Verna Bloom, Cheech & Chong, Linda Fiorentino, Bronson Pinchot, and B-movie legend, Dick Miller.  

 

The Office

Paul leaves his workplace, which is the Metropolitan Life North Building at 25 Madison Avenue.

 


This location has been identified on several movie websites as being the Metropolitan Life North Building on Madison Avenue. (It’s hard to mistake it for any other place with those distinctive metal gates.) But what’s so doggone irritating is that pretty much every website lists the address as 11 Madison Avenue, placing the scene at the 24th Street entrance — which is incorrect.

Granted, all the corner entrances in the Metropolitan Life North Building look almost identical, but in the finale of the film, right before Paul is dropped off in front of the building, you can see the neighboring Madison Square Park in the background (see the last post at the bottom of the page). If you take in account the relation of the building to the park, the only entrance these scenes could have taken place at would be the one at 25th Street, making the address 25 Madison Avenue (and not 11).

I know this seems like nitpicking, but a lot of people who are interested in movie locations care about the details and I think it’s important to get it exactly right. (I’d hope that if I posted a mistake on this website, a diligent reader would correct me posthaste.) What’s surprising is that not just one, but all of my go-to movie websites listed the same incorrect address. As I have already noted in other posts, I assume what happened was one website originally made the error and then the others just followed suit without double-checking the info first. And I must admit, I was briefly guilty of this sin as well when I started researching this film in 2015 (see “Tom’s Apartment” below).

 

A Coffee Shop

Paul meets Marcy at a coffee shop at 281 Fifth Avenue.
After getting her friend’s phone number, Paul goes to the cashier to get a pen to write it down.

 


Since this scene was essentially an interior, I thought finding the location could be difficult. Fortunately, at the end of the scene you can see a reversed building number in the glass above the door, which I interpreted to be 281. There was also a street sign that appeared out the window, and even though it was too dark and blurry to read, I could tell that it was for a numbered avenue. So, I just checked all the 281s on numbered avenues until I came across the corner building on 5th.

Since you never see the coffee shop’s exterior in the movie, I used the surrounding buildings as a way to confirm my conclusion  — and they clearly matched what appeared out the large windows in the scene. One of those buildings was the Textile Building (est. 1920) at 295 Fifth Avenue which doubled as Gimble’s department store for the 2003 film, Elf.

A 2011 view of the old 3-story building at 281 5th Avenue, which would be torn down in 2015 and replaced with a 51-story luxury condo.

Sadly, like most low-end eateries from New York’s past, the coffee shop has since closed down. It was a gourmet deli up to a few years ago, but I never got to go inside to see if anything remained from the old orange and yellow design, as the building was being torn down and replaced with  —yes you guessed it— a luxury condo skyscraper! According to a sign outside the lobby, one-bedrooms start at $3.6 million. One can only guess how much a three-bedroom would go for.

When I took the “modern” pictures of the location in the summer of 2018, the condo building was still under construction so I couldn’t take them from inside the space. But I think I matched the angles of the neighboring buildings pretty well.

And thanks to a tip from pop-culture super detective, Bob Egan, I found out that this coffee shop was also featured in a 1996 music video for the Wallflowers.

Hailing a Cab

After being invited by Marcy to come meet her in SoHo, Paul hails a cab in front of 1641 2nd Avenue

 


This was one of the last locations I found for this film. The one big clue was the sign on the corner building on the far right, which I thought said “Viand,” followed by a word starting with “Co.” Guessing that the second word was “coffee,” I did a basic online search and I found a “Viand Coffee Shop” on 61st and Madison, but it wasn’t the right place.

By the looks of the large apartment building across the street, I figured the scene was shot on the Upper East Side, so I refined my search to that area and found a reference to another “Viand Coffee Shop” at 300 E 86th Street. More hopeful with that address, I looked it up in Google Street View and almost immediately recognized that the streets matched what appeared in the scene.

A 2007 view of the Viand Coffee Shop on East 86th Street. Photo by Michael Minn.

Open 24-hours a day with a voluminous menu averaging around 14 pages long, the Viand on 86th Street was an Upper East Side staple for several decades until finally shutting its doors at the end of 2013. Its fate was first threatened in the early 90’s when the neighborhood saw an influx of hip, Seattle-based espresso bars with its young baristas and boutique elixirs. In a 1994 New York Times article, the Viand’s manager, Danny Pappas, commented about his new coffee rivals, “There’s no turnover in that kind of place. Fads come and go. The Greeks are in this business for the long term.”

He was actually kind of right, as they stayed in business for a couple more decades. And when the Viand finally closed in 2013, it was actually replaced by another Greek diner of similar quality named “Gracie’s,” which, as of this writing, is still in business. Let’s hope it doesn’t close down and get replaced with a Starbucks.

 

Cab Ride

Paul’s cab speeds south on Fifth Avenue, going through 30th Street.
The cab weaves in and out of traffic, going through E 67th Street on 2nd Avenue.
After Paul’s money flies out the window on Broadway, the cab makes a righthand turn onto Prince Street.

 


In this montage of the cab traveling south in Manhattan, I found the first location by recognizing the Textile Building on E 30th Street which was next door to the coffee shop in an earlier scene.

The next location was found by my research partner, Jeff Blakeslee.

At first, he and I tried to find some information on the corner store with a sign that said, “Martin” on it. Unfortunately, with such a generic name, we had no luck narrowing down our search, so Blakeslee decided to focus on 2nd Avenue since the “hailing a cab” scene was shot on that avenue. Trying to find a building that matched the one that was across from the “Martin” shop, he eventually came to a building on northeast corner of East 67th Street which had the same prominent stripe seen in the film. After that, he was able to figure out that that corner store was “Martin Motors,” which had a showroom at 1274 Second Avenue (on the southeast corner of 67th Street).

For the last location, I just use a little bit of neighborhood logic to figure out that it was shot on Prince Street. Since the cab was clearly traveling on a main thoroughfare in Soho, I figured it probably was shot somewhere along Broadway, given that all the other north-south streets in the neighborhood are fairly narrow. So, assuming it was Broadway, I just went through each intersection between Houston and Canal until I landed on Prince.

 

Kiki’s Apartment

The cab stops at the intersection of Howard and Crosby, where Paul reluctantly tells the driver that his only 20 dollar bill flew out the window.
The cabbie begrudgingly drives off and Paul walks up to 28 Howard Street and rings the buzzer.
Marcy’s friend, Kiki, throws the keys down to Paul, who barely gets out of the way of the flying ring of metal.

 


When I began researching this movie in 2015, there were only a handful of locations identified on reliable websites, and Kiki’s apartment was one of them. So all I did was check out the address and make sure it matched the film. I think one reason this location was easily identified was because in an earlier scene, when Marcy tells Paul where to come to, she actually gives him the correct address of 28 Howard Street.

However, even though the exterior was 28 Howard Street, I believe the interiors were shot across the street at 27 Howard, based on a map that was shown in a behind-the-scene featurette on the After Hours DVD. On the map, it shows the intersection of Crosby and Howard, along with markings indicating where they shot what.

 

The Diner

Paul and Marcy go out for coffee at the River Diner at 452 11th Avenue, on the corner of W 37th Street..

 


Figuring out the location of this diner wasn’t terribly difficult since its exterior displayed a neon sign with the word, “river.” I quickly concluded the classic streamlined blue-and-silver diner was the former River Diner on 11th Avenue and W 37th Street. (Although, for some stupid reason, IMDB erroneously lists the location as the former Moondance Diner on 6th Avenue.)

Built in the 1930s, the classic chrome diner probably found its way to 11th Avenue in the 1950s, back when the avenue was known for being lined with these types of low-end eateries. Prior to that, the lot was occupied by another stand-alone diner, as evidenced by a 1940s tax photo.

A circa 1940 photo of the corner lot on West 37th and 11th Ave. Although similar in size to the River Diner, it appears to be a different building.

In the 1960s and 70s, the River Diner served mostly blue-collar men who worked in the predominately industrial area. But by the 1980s, the neighborhood had started to become a home-base for the prostitution trade, and the diner’s business started to suffer. Owner Kyriakos (Charlie) Hristidis complained, ”The big problem came because Mayor Beame started to clean up 42nd Street, Times Square, and that sent the girls down here. You understand? The neighborhood got very bad. Business went down.”

However, things started looking more promising with the construction of the $486 million Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which opened in April of 1986, right across the street from the modest one-story restaurant. Hristidis viewed the gigantic glass center as a much-needed miracle, describing it as ”a wondrous crystal palace that has set down like magic in my grimy neighborhood.” Incredibly, he turned down million-dollar offers to take over his lease and convert the space into some sort of multi-story bar/lounge.

The middle-aged Greek immigrant was determined to hold onto his diner and refused to make it “fancier” for the new convention trade — a resolute decision that made him something of a folk hero to the regulars from the neighborhood. They appreciated his desire to keep the place authentic. And it was this down-to-earth quality that helped make the River Diner such an interesting backdrop for movies like After Hours and 1981’s Tattoo. The chrome exterior was also featured in a photograph of John Lennon, taken by David Gahr during a 1974 magazine shoot. (The image of the diner was never used in the magazine, but eventually got published 30 years later in a retrospective article for Mojo Magazine.)

John Lennon poses in front of the River Diner on 11th Avenue, October 24, 1974. Photo by David Gahr.

Even with the completion of the Javits Center, the River Diner never saw the explosion of new customers it was hoping for, but still managed to last for the remainder of the 20th century. Sadly, the tiny chrome structure got demolished in 2004 without much protest or fanfare. However, instead of a large skyscraper, the diner got inexplicably replaced by a one-story, check-cashing establishment.

An interesting detail I discovered after taking the “modern” photos of this location in 2017 was that a tiny, overlapping brick wall from the neighboring garage remained in place even after the diner got replaced.

A close-up of the diner from 1985 compared to a 2017 photo of the check-cashing establishment, with a matching “wall” in the center of the frame.

Less than a year after I took the modern pictures of this location, the check-cashing place, along with several other industrial buildings on the block got torn down. Then, in late 2020, construction began for a 51-story Aloft Hotel, which will offer 379 rooms as well as a business center, a ballroom, and a fancy bar/restaurant. At the time of this writing, it appears the 642-foot-tall skyscraper will be completed soon, at an expected final cost of around $370 million. Seems like a lot of money to just slap another hotel onto Manhattan Island.

 

Subway Station

Annoyed by Marcy’s weird behavior, Paul runs out on her, leaving 28 Howard Street.
He turns right onto Crosby Street and walks through the heavy rain to get to a subway.
He enters the downtown 32nd Street entrance to the 33rd Street subway station on Park Avenue.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t have enough money to buy a token, which went up to $1.50 at midnight (an absurdly high price for 1985).
Desperate, Paul jumps the turnstile, but is immediately stopped by a large transit cop.
Paul nervously apologizes to the cop, trying to explain that he has no money and didn’t know the subway fare went up at midnight.
He quickly hightails it out of there, exiting onto the southwest corner of Park Avenue and E 32nd Street.
The action jumps back to SoHo, where Paul exits the Spring Street Station at Lafayette Street.
Back in the rain, he walks west on Spring Street towards Crosby.

 


Given the signage that appears in this scene, I assumed it was shot at the Spring Street station in SoHo, but for the longest time, I thought it was the one on Sixth Avenue. However, when I studied the end of the scene more carefully, I realized that Paul actually exits the station on the other side of SoHo at Lafayette Street. It was hard to decipher any structures at first because of the heavy rain, but I was eventually able to identify some of the buildings on Spring Street confirming the location. (A side note about the rain, according to cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, because they were on a tight budget, the rain effect was accomplished simply by having crew members on the rooftops spraying the street with hoses.)

At that point, I thought I had this location completely solved, until I discovered something else that had previously eluded me — the interior is not Spring Street at all. It is clearly a different station because you can see that production covered up the station name on the tiled columns, as well as the street name(s) on the large exit sign above the turnstiles.

I eventually concluded the interiors were shot at the 33rd Street station for the IRT Lexington Avenue Line. The big clue that got me there was a small sign on the token booth that had a unique-looking code on it which read, R-232A. I already figured the Spring Street name and the $1.50 token price sign were set-dressing, but that R-code seemed cryptic enough that the crew wouldn’t bother changing it for the movie.

However, when I did an online search for “R-232A,” nothing came up. That’s when Blakeslee took over, and with his uncanny Google-fu skills, he was able to find a website that listed all the token booth codes and the associated stations. His trick was doing a Google search without hyphens, which yielded him a couple hits.

An interesting thing I discovered after looking at these websites was that not only did each station have a different code for their token booths, but each individual booth at every entrance had a different code from the others. This would indicate that this scene could have only been shot at one specific station entrances, and I’m pretty sure it’s the 32nd street entrance for the downtown local.

Once I became fairly certain of the station used for the film, I went digging around for some vintage photos to further confirm my conclusion. I eventually found one from 1979 which featured the same white-tiled columns with a brown stripe on top that appeared in this scene.

A view of the 33td Street subway platform in 1979 with columns and light fixtures that match the scene from After Hours. Photo by Joe Testagrose. from the nycsubway website.

Also, it seems like the basic layout of the 32nd street entrance matches what’s in the film. But there obviously has been some renovations to the station since 1984, and I couldn’t really find any specific elements that are exactly the same. The only thing that seemed like it could be a match was the light on the ceiling in the stairwell. Even though the single-bulb light fixture is gone today, you can still see faint remnants of it underneath the plaster.

Since I couldn’t find any specific elements at the station that have survived from 1984, I cannot call this location a 100% confirmation, but with that unique R-code on the token booth and a matching layout at the entrance, I’m at a solid 95%.

 

The Terminal Bar

After leaving the subway station, Paul wanders into the “Terminal Bar” at 308 Spring Street.

 


This was one of those locations I knew about years before I started this “NYC In Film” project. Having lived and worked in the neighborhood, I’d occasionally find myself having drinks on Spring Street and recognized that the “Emerald Pub” at no. 308 looked like the bar from After Hours. I actually never had drinks in the Emerald Pub (I always thought the place had a bit of a rowdy reputation and the nearby “Ear Inn” and “Antarctica” were my preferred watering holes), but I knew that Scorsese shot some scenes on Spring Street, and after popping my head in the Emerald I could tell that it was the same bar used in this film.

A still from the 1985 film (left), compared to a 2010 photo of the Emerald Pub with the matching backbar (right).

In business since 1972, the Emerald Pub finally shuttered for good in the spring of 2015 due to rising rent prices which had already spread around the neighborhood. At the time of its closure, much of that block had already been revamped to bring in trendier, more upscale clientele.

But things seemed to have been stalled at 308 Spring Street. It’s been over five years since the Irish tavern closed down, and there’s still no sign of activity inside the space. (All the posted permits date back to 2016-17 without any updates.) Even the Emerald Pub’s ornate neon sign remains above the door today, giving some passersby the misguided hope that they are still open for business.

But to honest, every time I see that the sign’s still hanging, I fantasize that maybe the new owners have backed out and the former owners of the Emerald Pub are allowed to move back in and reopen it.

Retrieving the Statue

After leaving Tom the bartender’s apartment, Paul spots two men loading Kiki’s statue into a van and runs after them, passing 30 Howard Street.
Neil and Pepe drop the statue and TV and speed off in their van towards Broadway.
Paul stands in front of 35 Howard Street as he watches the van turn south onto Broadway. He then grabs the statue to return to Kiki.

 


This location wasn’t too hard to figure out since it is actually only a half a block from Kiki’s apartment at 28 Howard Street. I actually accidentally discovered this location while investigating that location.

Unfortunately the first “before/after” image is all muddled up with scaffolding in the modern view — something that was around in 2017 when I took the pic and is still around today. Hopefully it will come down at some point and I can get a better picture.

 

Julie’s Apartment

After finding Marcy dead, Paul calls the police, props open the door, and leaves Kiki’s apartment at 28 Howard Street, heading away from Crosby.
Suddenly, Paul ends up back on Crosby Street, walking past the corner building at 30 Howard Street.
Walking north on Crosby, Paul is approached by Julie, the waitress from the Terminal Bar, who tells him that she just quit her job.
Uninterested in Julie’s news, Paul returns to the Terminal Bar at 308 Spring Street so he can get his keys back from Tom the bartender.
Unfortunately, the bar is locked up with a sign saying, “Be back in 15 minutes.”
Julie tells Paul that she lives across the street at 307 Spring Street.
Later, after the bar reopens, Paul goes in to get his keys but finds out that the recently-deceased Marcy is actually the bartender’s ex-girlfriend. Freaked out, Paul exits the bar.
Then, after returning to Julie’s apartment at 307 Spring Street, Paul is finally able to extricate himself from the awkward situation (while also managing to insult her along the way).
Julie
But once outside, he discovers that the Terminal Bar has closed down again.

 


While the location of Julie’s apartment was already established to be across the street from the Terminal Bar on Spring Street, there was no information on the location of the scene where Julie first interacts with Paul on the street.

This was actually one of the last locations I found and I knew it could be figured out simply by looking at street corners in SoHo. Best thing about SoHo is that it’s a pretty small area and most of the buildings have remained unchanged, so it doesn’t take long to find a location if you just search up and down the streets. And this location was even easier to to find since it took place at a T intersection, which really limited the number of possibilities.

Teri Garr and Griffin Dunne relax between takes outside of 30 Howard Street, where they seem to be getting along better than their characters do.

Turns out I didn’t have to do very much searching at all since the scene was filmed practically across the street from Kiki’s apartment at 28 Howard Street. It features the same building surrounded by scaffolding that was in the previous scene where Paul retrieves the statue.

 

Tom’s Apartment

Meanwhile, Neil and Pepe exit Tom’s apartment building at 35 Crosby Street with armfuls of stolen loot. 
Neil wants to quit for the night but Pepe insists that they try to find his statue that he bought from Kiki.
After the two burglars drive off, Paul, who was hiding near 37 Crosby Street, cautiously walks to Tom’s apartment building.
He goes inside, hoping that Tom is in his apartment.
After some suspecting neighbors see Paul exiting the building, they chase after him, thinking that he is the neighborhood burglar.
Paul manages to elude them by ducking into a stairwell at 33 Crosby Street.

 


So, a couple normally-reliable websites erroneously listed this location to be on Spring Street instead of Crosby (probably because the Tom character gives Paul an address of 158 Spring). And for some reason, I believed this was correct without really checking it out closely. (To be fair, this was when I was still new to this movie locations project so I really hadn’t learned my lesson to double-check other people’s work.) I even went to the incorrect location to take modern pictures. But when I tried to line them up with the movie stills, everything looked off. However, for a while, I convinced myself that the building simply got dramatically remodeled and no longer resembled what was in the film.

A still from the 1985 film (left) compared to a 2018 photo of 154 Spring Street (right), which looks completely different.

A couple years later, I decided to re-investigate the scene, just curious if it was actually shot somewhere else. That’s when I discovered garbage cans in the scene with the number 37 on them (see the third “before/after” image above). Knowing that Scorsese shot a lot of stuff on Crosby Street, I immediately went there and discovered that the building at number 35 was a match. (I was also delighted to discover that the fire hydrant near no. 37 is apparently the same one from 1984, which is kind of rare.)

Shortly after that, I watched that behind-the-scenes featurette on the DVD and saw that the map used by the production team actually listed the bartender’s address as 35 Crosby Street, further confirming I found the right place.

 

The Berlin Club

Hoping to talk to Kiki and her boyfriend Horst, Paul makes his way to the “Berlin Club” at 289 Hudson Street.
He approaches the side entrance on Spring Street where he encounters an obstinate bouncer who won’t let him in.
The bouncer informs him that since it’s “mohawk night,” if he had a mohawk, he’d be able to go in right away.

 


When I began researching this film back in 2015, the number one location I was interested in finding was this Berlin Club. It looked so much like the quintessential 1980s punk club — a place where I imagined expressionist painters and musical anarchists would congregate over shots of vodka. Even though I knew the building (if it was still around) would look very different from the movie, I was still keen to find it.

At the time I was researching this film, I was still pretty new at finding locations, so it probably took me a little longer to find this place than it would today. The first thing I did was check out the corner of West Broadway and Grand, which was the address given in the note left by Kiki. But after looking at each of the corners at that intersection, I realized that none of them were correct.

Later on, I thought that the former Don Hills night club on Spring and Greenwich might be the place, but after checking out the building, I rejected that idea. But fortunately, while I was in that neighborhood, I stumbled upon a nearby building on the corner of Hudson and Spring and realized that I had found the Berlin Club! The big clue that helped me identify it was the unique fire escape that ran along the side of the building like a catwalk (see the first “before/after” image above).

Interestingly, even though the address in Kiki’s note was wrong, the address on a flyer that is later given to Paul in the diner was correct. It’s interesting that the movie had conflicting addresses for the same place, with one of them right, and one of them wrong.

Stills from two different scenes from the movie, where conflicting addresses to the Berlin Club are given (the one on the right being correct).

A year or two later, I further confirmed that the location was on Spring and Hudson by tracking down a 1980s tax photo which remarkably showed the same checkered exterior seen in the film. (This would seem to indicate that the club was real, but since the tax photos were taken between 1983 and 1988, it’s possible they simply captured the movie’s set design during the summer of ’84.)

A circa 1984 tax photo of 289-91 Hudson Street, showing the checkered facade of the “Berlin Club.”

What thrilled me was that I was already super familiar with that building, as I would regularly visit the first-floor deli in the early 2000’s after a night of imbibing at the next-door bar, “Antarctica.”

The outside of Antartica at 287 Hudson Street in the fall of 2013, a few months before the spacious dive bar would close.

Even though it was about a 15-minute hike from my Perry Street Apartment, my friend David and I would go to Antartica on a regular basis because it was very spacious, had a decent pool table with plenty of elbow room, had a cute and friendly bartender, and amazingly served all their mixed drinks in pint-sized glasses. Granted, I think the cocktails were a little watered down, but you still ended up getting more booze for your buck.

Another great feature of the bar was their “Name Night,” where if your first name matched the daily selection, you drank for free from 5-11PM. They even printed out a monthly calendar so you would know ahead of time what name was going to be selected. (Unfortunately I was never able to take advantage of Name Night since my first name is CLOSED.)

Naturally, the fate of Antarctica was the same as the Emerald pub, closing it’s doors in 2013. The space was taken over in 2016 by Adoro Lei, an upscale Italian restaurant that prides itself for offering “an elevated pizza-eating experience.”

 

Hailing Another Cab

After taking the $20 bill pasted on Kiki’s sculpture, Paul exits 28 Howard Street and heads west.
The action jumps north by a few blocks, where Paul hails a cab in front of 70 Prince Street.
As he approaches the cab, the woman passenger opens the door and bangs it into his arm.
Realizing the driver is the same one from before, Paul shows him he now has money. But the driver grabs the $20 bill and takes off north on Crosby Street screaming, “See how you like it!”
Gail, the woman passenger, insists that she mends his injured arm. 

 


I found this location right after a found the correct location of Tom’s apartment, invigorated by that sudden success. This was definitely one of these locations that was found simply by looking through the streets of SoHo. Turns out, like a lots of other scenes from this film, it was shot on Crosby Street. As I mentioned earlier, since most of SoHo is landmarked, the buildings look pretty much the same as they did in 1985 and are easy to identify.

As a side note, this scene was filmed on the same block where Patrick Swayze’s character gets murdered in the 1990 movie, Ghost.

 

The Mister Softee Truck

Gail offers to give Paul a ride home in her Mister Softee truck. On their way to the parked truck, she notices a intriguing poster on a pole in front of 59 Crosby Street.
They enter the empty lot at 57 Crosby Street where a disgusted Gail tells Paul that he’s “dead, pal.”
Gail blows a whistle, mobilizing a neighborhood mob, and they begin chasing Paul up Crosby Street towards Spring Street.

 


Not much to say about this location. I found this after I found the previous “hailing another cab” scene. And once again, since it was on Crosby, it wasn’t very hard to find. I was extremely happy to see that the empty lot where the Mister Softee truck was parked is still an empty lot today.

I suppose a narrow building could go up in that open space, but hopefully it will remain as it is — a nice little aberration in the tightly-packed streets of Manhattan.

 

Alleyway

Paul ducks into a alley just north of 37 Crosby Street. In there he hides from the angry mob, but also witnesses a murder through one of the alleyway windows.

 


When I began my search for this alleyway, I already had a couple places in mind. There’s an alleyway near Great Jones and Lafayette Street which has been used in several 80s movies. But that turned out not to be the location. I then checked out some other alleys I knew about that were further downtown, but they didn’t match either. Finally I ended up back where I should’ve started in the first place — Crosby Street. Turns out Scorsese used a small passageway near Tom the bartender’s apartment (which was also briefly featured in the 1984 movie, C.H.U.D..)

After I figured out this location, I became intrigued by how many times Scorsese used Crosby Street in this film. I suppose it’s understandable since it’s probably the most interesting and less-busy thoroughfares in Soho. Its uneven Belgium block streets harken back to a day when the neighborhood was mostly industrial, lined with factories, sweatshops, and warehouses. And without safety standards in place, the greatest hazard back then for a neighborhood like that was, of course, fires. The biggest was in 1876, when a devastating blaze started in a warehouse at 10 Crosby Street and ended up destroying half the block between Grand and Howard.

The west side of Crosby Street near Prince Street, April 14, 1895. 

And like the murder that takes place in the alleyway in After Hours, Crosby Street was not adverse to its criminal element during its early existence, with brothels and opium dens interspersed between the homes and warehouses. In fact, one of the most notorious and gruesome crimes of the 19th century took place not too far from where the scene was shot. According to The New York Tribune, in 1877, a local resident named James Flood pursued his frantic wife, Mary, out of a small grocery store at 55 Crosby Street, as she cried out “Don’t strike me!” The quarreling couple’s chase culminated on the street with the husband killing her by thrusting an iron spike through her chest.

Almost sounds like it could’ve been a scene from a Scorsese picture.

 

A Man in the Park

After racing through the streets of SoHo, a desperate Paul drops to his knees in front of 49 Howard Street, screaming to the sky, “What do you want from me!?!”
Paul looks over and spots an unassuming man standing in front of a small park on the northwest corner of Howard Street and Broadway.
He approaches the man, asking if he could go to his home. Thinking this is a pick-up, the man tells Paul that there are “some things he will not do.”

 


This location perplexed me for a little while since I was focused on looking for a park, assuming that it was still around today. I had no idea that the park was now gone and got replaced by a large building.

Fortunately, I figured out the location of the park by first figuring out the spot where Paul drops to his knees and screams into the sky. At the top of the shot, as he turns the corner, you can see several buildings in the background at a T-intersection. That eventually brought me to the end of Howard Street.

From that, I guessed (or rather hoped) that the park was on the same block. After searching old tax photos I confirmed that there used to be a small park on the corner of Howard and Broadway.

A circa 1984 tax photo of the lot at 433 Broadway, which used to have a vest-pocket park.
A close-up of the European American Bank on the corner of Broadway and Howard Street in 1987. Photo by David Dunlap,.

Inside that corner park was a curious structure — a one-story, hexagonal building that was installed in 1967 for Franklin National Bank (later taken over by European American Bank). Having a tiny bank building situated in a vest-pocket park, amongst the trees, was a whimsical thing, even for SoHo. It was a cherished feature on Howard Street and in 1974, the neo-Colonial structure was officially included in the SoHo Cast-Iron Historic District. Being under the regulatory authority of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the building had certain protections, but still ended up being demolished in 2002 to make way for a sheik 6-story hotel. However, after the bank and all the park features were removed, the lot remained vacant for nearly fifteen years, proving that destroying can be a whole lot easier than creating.

The hotel idea was ultimately abandoned during that period, and a 6-story office building for the coworking company Cubico went up instead. When it was finally completed in 2016, the Cubico building became next-door neighbors with the artist Christo (probably best known for creating “The Gates” in Central Park back in 2005) whose home and studio has been at 48 Howard Street since 1964.

Christo’s 2005 art installation in Central Park, entitled “The Gates,” which tended to perplex instead of awe New Yorkers.

According to Scorsese, when they were filming the part where Paul screams up into the heavens, one of the residents on Howard Street yelled out, “Is this gonna go on all night!?! Don’t tell me this is going to go on all night!” In response, the director reassured the unseen person that they were only going to do one or two more takes.

After I figured out the details of this filming location, I wondered whether that angry Gothamite was Christo, or his wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude.

 

Discovering the Poster

While inside the unnamed man’s apartment, Paul sees Julie out the window hanging a poster on a lamppost. He runs out of 31 Crosby Street to talk to her.
But when he reaches the street, he finds it empty and Julie gone.
Suddenly he discovers that Julie was putting up a “wanted poster” with a sketch of him on it, accusing him of being the neighborhood burglar. (Note that the lamppost has since been removed.)
Just then, the Mister Softee truck and the angry SoHo mob round the corner from Grand Street.

 


I stumbled upon this location while I was researching the correct location of Tom’s apartment building. Turns out they were pretty much right next-door to each other.

Once again, after watching that DVD featurette showing the map used by production, I could see it listed the apartment as 31 Crosby St., confirming my findings. And as an added bonus, the map also revealed the character’s name (which was was never given in the film) to be Mark.

 

Back at the Diner

While Paul waits at the diner for Tom to bring him his keys, he see the bartender out on 11th Avenue talking to Gail.

 

Back at the Berlin Club

With a proper invitation in hand, Paul is given immediate entry into the Berlin club at 289 Hudson Street.
After being trapped inside a papier-mâché sculpture, Paul is taken out through a manhole by Neil and Pepe who think they found Kiki’s statue. They load him in the van and drive north on Hudson Street.

 


Had I been a little more experienced at researching film locations when I began working on After Hours, I would’ve found the location of the Berlin Club a lot sooner if I just paid attention to this later scene where the statue is being pulled out of the manhole. If you look closely in the background, you can see a street sign for Spring Street, which would have saved me a lot of time of looking at other possibilities.

The last remaining days for 289 Hudson Street in December 2020.

On a sad note, after going downtown recently to take some additional photos of the Berlin Club, I discovered what appeared to be preparations to tear the building down. It was surrounded with construction boards and part of the first floor was missing. After returning home, I did some research and found that permits were filed in 2019 to build a six-story mixed-use building on that lot. So unfortunately, it looks like the Berlin Club will be no more.

It seems to be on par for the neighborhood. While there, I also discovered that the entire block that is kitty-corner to the Berlin Club got completely flattened —wiping away several edifices dating back to 1900— to make way for Disney’s new 1.2-million-square-foot headquarters.

Four Hudson Square
Looking at the northeast corner of Spring and Hudson (which is kitty-corner to the “Berlin Club”) from 2018 (left), compared to a rendering of that corner where Disney headquarters will soon be (right).

Renderings of the new giant complex, dubbed “Four Hudson Square,” indicate that it will be your typical boring, glass box design.

It’s kind of fitting that Disney is helping destroy this part of Tribeca, since New York City is slowing becoming a corporate amusement park.

 

Returning to the Office

As the van drives uptown, we get glimpses of its progress through street signs, such as W 31st and 8th Avenue, near the James A. Farley Post Office.
They also pass E 41st Street and Madison Avenue. (Notice that the street signs from this shot were green at the time, while the signs from the previous shot were still the old yellow design.)
The action suddenly jumps a little south, as the van drives west on E 27th Street, passing the New York Life Building at 51 Madison Avenue.
It turns the corner and heads north on Madison Avenue again.
The action ends up jumping south one more time, as the van drives north on Madison Avenue and turns right onto E 25th Street (although set dressing put a fake “48th St” sign on the pole.
The statue falls out the back of the van, busting Paul free. He then stands up, dusts himself off and returns to his workplace at 25 Madison Avenue, bringing him full-circle to the beginning of the film.

 


The fact that the geography of the van’s progress is a sort of mixed-up and a fake street sign was used outside the Metropolitan Life North Building is a little unusual for a Martin Scorsese movie. The NYC-born director is usually insistent on making sure the geography in his films is accurate. In the Taxi Driver DVD audio commentary, Scorsese talked about how he was particularly focused on trying to keep all the action consistent, so it would seem believable to any New Yorkers watching the film. He specifically talked about how he would never use two different locations during one continuous sequence.

Martin Scorsese and Griffin Dunne (who was also one of the producers) have friendly discussion at the Emerald Pub on Spring Street

Even though there are no egregious inconsistencies in this film, Scorsese was a little loose with the geography, often using the same block multiple times when it was supposed to be different places. (In particular, his use of Howard Street.) Also, since the River Diner was over two miles from SoHo, it wouldn’t make sense that all the characters from this film would go there. But these little geographical errors don’t really take away from the film, in fact, they sort of add to the surreal comedy, making even savvy New York audience members feel as lost as Paul Hackett.

 


Scorsese’s affinity for telling a New York story is patently obvious in every frame of this film. Not only is it full of passion and energy, but it’s a valuable document of what SoHo was like in the mid-80’s, before the neighborhood became the commercialized tourist haven that it is today. And to a larger part, the film adeptly shows the dichotomy that existed in New York City back then, where the disparate worlds of upperclass yuppies and fly-by-night freaks were only separated by a short cab ride. It’s also a story that couldn’t be told today, where the existence of things like cell phones, Ubers and ATMs could have easily resolved our main character’s problems and ensconced him back to his uptown apartment within minutes.

All in all, Marin Scorsese was able to create a truly visceral NYC experience that, while obviously hyperbolic, captured what late-night downtown Manhattan felt like in the 1980s.

In a word: unpredictable.

 

 

6 thoughts on “After Hours (1985)

  1. Excellent job, Mark, with great detail. That coffee shop at 281 FIfth Ave at 30th Street that you mentioned was used in a Wallflower’s video before it closed. You can see some pictures here: https://popspotsnyc.com/sixth_avenue_heartache/ The seats match up. Looks like they moved the checkout counter before the Wallflowers video.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the heads up, it was cool to see some later views of that coffee shop. I wonder is it was called Rama’s back in the 80s as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome post of my favourite movie ever! I want to visit NYC, after pandemic of course, and for sure I’ll do a walk to these movie’s spots.
    By the way, have you realized that in a scene, the watch face of Griffin Dune change the color from black to white, and after this scene the it backed to the black color? It seems a mistake … but strange for Scorsese, maybe it’s a hidden message?

    Congrats for this blog.

    Liked by 2 people

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