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.
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 As I have already noted in other posts, I assume what happened was one website originally made the error and then the others just followed suit without double-checking the info first.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
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.
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.
Hailing a Cab
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.
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.” But it seems as though that diner has closed down as well. Who knows what will eventually take its place. Perhaps a Starbucks?
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.
Even though the exterior was 28 Howard Street, I believe the interiors were shot across the street at 27 Howard. I made this conclusion 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 were shooting what.
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 lists the location as the former Moondance Diner on 6th Avenue — probably because it was closer to SoHo.)
Built in the 1930s, the classic chrome diner probably found its way to 11th Avenue in the 1950s or 60s, 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, but it appears to had been a different structure, as evidenced by a 1940s tax photo.
In the 1960s and 70s, the River Diner served mostly blue-collar men who worked in the predominately industrial area. 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 42d Street, Times Square, and that sent the girls down here. You understand? The neighborhood got very bad. Business went down.”
But hope came 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 down-to-earth and authentic, which helped make it an interesting backdrop for movies like, After Hours, as well as 1981’s, Tattoo. The chrome diner 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, and only finally got published 30 years later for a retrospective article in Mojo Magazine.)
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 eventually got demolished in 2004 without much protest or fanfare. However, instead of a large skyscraper, the diner got inexplicably replaced by a seedy, 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.
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. At the time of this writing, nothing has been erected in its place. However, I’m sure it won’t be long before a towering mass of glass and steel will rise from the ashes and help make New York City just a bit more boring and uninspired.
I knew this subway scene was shot at the Spring Street station, but for the longest time, I assumed it was the one on Sixth Avenue, until I realized when he exits onto the street, he’s actually over on Lafayette. 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. (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 a crew members on the rooftops spraying the street with hoses.)
At first, I thought I had this location finally solved, until I discovered something else that had previously eluded me — the interior is not Spring Street. It is clearly a different station from Spring because production covered up the name of the stop on the tiled columns, along with the street name(s) on the large exit sign above the turnstiles.
Right now I’m pretty sure it’s the 33rd St. station for the IRT East Side Line, but I’m still not one hundred percent. The 33rd St. station has white-tiled columns with a brown stripe on top, and they perfectly match the columns in the film.
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, so I couldn’t really find any specific elements that are exactly the same. The one thing that seemed like it could be a match was the light on the ceiling in the stairwell (seen the third “before/after” image above). Even though the single-bulb light fixture is gone today, you can still see faint remnants of it underneath the plaster.
But the big clue that got me to 33rd Street in the first place was the R-232A code on the token booth. 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 they 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, with his uncanny Google-fu skills, and 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 netted 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 its the 32nd street entrance for the downtown local.
The Terminal Bar
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.
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, much of that block had been closed and revamped to bring in trendier places with 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.
Retrieving the Statue
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.
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 and tells him she quit her job.
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.
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.
So, a couple websites that I trust listed this location to be on Spring Street — I think 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 erroneous location to take modern pictures. But when I tried to line them up with the movie stills, everything looked off. But for a while, I convinced myself that the building simply got dramatically remodeled, and no longer resembled what was in the film.
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 during the production of the film actually listed the bartender’s address as 35 Crosby Street, further confirming I found the right place. (See “Kiki’s Apartment” above for an image of the map.)
The Berlin Club
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, where I imagined expressionist painters and musical anarchists would congregate. Even though I knew if the building was still around it would look very different from the movie, I was still keen to see what the place looked like today.
At the time I was researching this film, I was still pretty new at the “finding locations” game, so it probably took me a little longer to find this place than it would today. At one point, I thought that the former Don Hills night club on Spring and Greenwich was 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 in Spring and realized that I had found the Berlin Club! The one big clue that helped me identify it was the unique fire escape that runs along the side of the building like a catwalk (see the first “before/after” picture above).
Of course, this address is different from what is in Kiki’s note which says the Berlin is on West Broadway and Grand Street. However, the correct address is actually on the flyer that is later given to Paul in the diner. It’s interesting that the movie had conflicting addresses for the same place, with one of them being right and one of them being wrong.
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. (I assume 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.)
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.”
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, 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
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
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.
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 alley near Tom the bartender’s apartment, and was a passageway I was already familiar with, as it was 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. But 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.
And like the murder that takes place in the alleyway in After Hours, Crosby Street was not adverse to its criminal element during its existence, with brothels and opium dens interspersed between the homes and warehouses, and one of the most notorious and gruesome crimes taking place outside a grocery store. According to The New York Tribune, in 1877, local resident James Flood pursued his frantic wife, Mary, out of a small store at 55 Crosby Street, as she cried out “Don’t strike me!” The quarreling couple’s chase culminated with the husband killing her by thrusting an iron spike through her chest.
This kind of brutality seemed as commonplace back then as the murder in the alleyway was depicted in this scene. And knowing Paul’s luck, he’d probably get blamed for Many Flood’s murder as well.
A Man in the Park
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 replaced with 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. Right before, as he turns the corner, you can see several buildings in the background at a T-intersection and it didn’t take me very long to find out that it was at 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.
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. But 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 he 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.
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!” Perhaps that angry Gothamite was Christo, or his wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude.
Discovering the Poster
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.
Again, later on when I saw that DVD featurette showing the map used by production, I could see it listed the apartment as 31 Crosby St., confirming my findings. 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
Back at the Berlin Club
On a sad note, after going down to Spring Street 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. Renderings of the new giant headquarters, 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
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 it. He specifically talked about how he would never use two different locations during one continuous sequence.
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 visceral experience and truly capture what late-night downtown Manhattan felt like in the 1980s.
In a word: unpredictable.