This April, we at Untapped Cities have decided to pay homage to one of the most influential and honored directors of all time: Martin Scorsese. Scorsese has set 11 films in New York City, some of them inspired by his own experiences growing up in Lower Manhattan’s Little Italy, others exploring the cultural history of the city. Scorsese is one of only a handful of directors whose work is synonymous with New York and can be seen as a portal to the city’s grittier and darker past. In this first of four installments, we will take a look at five locations for his 1973 crime drama Mean Streets.
1. St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
In this and his previous film Who’s That Knocking at My Door, Scorsese explores Catholic guilt. The Italian-American director did go to Catholic school as a child and at one time considered becoming a priest before becoming a director. However, it seems that not taking the high road (literally) is something that bothers Scorsese. In this scene, we are introduced to Harvey Kietel’s character Charlie. More than any of the other characters in the film, Charlie is struggling internally; he wants to be a good Catholic man, but the temptations of living a mob life are too good to pass by.
To show Charlie’s inner struggle, Scorsese uses a lot of religious imagery throughout the film. The most visually encapsulating is this shot inside Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The church located on Mulberry Street between Prince and Houston has been featured before, in our Godfather Film Locations post and the gymnasium was the scene of the recent BBQ Films reenactment of Back to the Future.