The Night Of NYC Film Locations-HBO-Manhattan-Jackson Heights-Rikers Island-The Tombs-003

The Night Of, a limited series on HBO, tells the fictional story of Queens resident and college student, Nasir Khan, and the repercussions of a single night in his life which brings the character unwittingly into the underworld of urban incarceration and New York City politics. English actor Riz Ahmed, who got his start as rapper Riz MC, plays Nasir, an earnest millennial and son of first generation Pakistani immigrants.

The Night Of is beautifully filmed and the show does a detailed job of using real locations and making sure they are where the show says they are. As New Yorkers, we appreciate that accuracy, as well as the touches in the script that make it clear that screenwriter Richard Price is a New Yorker. Price was born in the Bronx and many of his novels and films are set in the New York city region. The gritty opening sequence is further haunted by the presence of executive producer James Gandolfini, uses black and white aerial shots of New York City with key elements of the storyline pulled out for visual effect.

Without further ado, here are the notable film locations so far in The Night Of:

1. Jackson Heights, Queens

Nasir, aka Nas, lives with his brother and parents in a typical two-floor, free-standing Queens house in Jackson Heights. Sometimes referred to as Little India, the neighborhood is populated by many different ethnicities of South Asian descent. Nasir’s father drives a yellow taxi cab, medallion number 62P4, one he shares with two other owners. Nasir takes this cab when his friend bails on a party at 55 Stanton Street in the Lower East Side that evening, leaving him without a ride. Nasir desperately wants to go because he was invited by someone on the basketball team, a friend of the player he tutors. It’s a chance to party with the cool kids and he doesn’t want to miss the opportunity.

We do feel obligated to note that the fundamental takeaway from this whole show, which doesn’t reduce its role in revealing a side of incarceration and criminal justice in New York City, is that everyone should take public transit. If Nasir had simply taken public transit to Manhattan, this whole story would not have transpired. Jackson Heights is a big neighborhood however, and the junction of the subway lines at the Roosevelt Av-Jackson Heights stop, serviced by the E/F/M/R/7 lines, is only along the main drag of the neighborhood. Nonetheless, many buses ply the north-south streets in the neighborhood and the 7 line is one stop from Woodside, which offers a connector to the Long Island Railroad that could have taken Nasir express to Penn Station.

We know that Nasir’s home address starts with 105-03, although we don’t know yet the exact street. Queens addresses have a logic to them: the first number before the dash indicates that the house is located between 105th and 106th Street, and the 03 is the house number. 105th Street only runs from Astoria Boulevard south to 37th Avenue. If he lived at the most northern part of an avenue that crosses 105th Street, it would be a 17 minute walk to the nearest subway station or a 9 minute bus ride on the Q23. But, Nasir is young, trying to be cool, and in a rush.

2. Queens Midtown Tunnel

Photo: Barry Wetcher/HBO

Nasir takes the cab, gets onto the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) and heads to the Queens Midtown tunnel. He should have probably taken the BQE further and crossed into Manhattan via the Williamsburg Bridge which would have dropped him right in the Lower East Side, where he needed to be. Plus, since the Williamsburg Bridge is managed by the Department of Transportation, there aren’t any tolls which means he wouldn’t have been photographed crossing a toll booth.

Despite having an iPhone (it’s October 2014), Nasir isn’t using any kind of maps app on his phone for directions. When we see him in Manhattan, he’s in the East Village at St. Mark’s Place, lost and asking other cars for directions.

2. Stuyvesant Street

Nasir pulls over at the intersection of Stuyvesant Street, the only true east-west street in Manhattan, and 9th Street, across from the St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery. He’s trying to figure out how to turn on the off-duty light on the cab when two guys get in the car. A cop car comes, and after explaining that there’s an issue with his cab light, the cops kick out the guys. The cops give him directions, incredulously to Stanton Street, but then a girl, Andrea Cornish, gets in the cab. He’s drawn to her and when he can’t seem to kick her out, decides to take her where she wants to go. That place turns out to be the beach.

3. Shell Gas Station, 131st Street and Broadway

Andrea agrees to go to a river instead of the beach since they’re in Manhattan, and requests a location uptown. En route, she says she’s thirsty so Nasir stops at the Shell Gas Station at 131st Street and Broadway under the Broadway Line Viaduct, that carries the 1 subway line in its elevated portion. Fun fact: This viaduct is actually a National Historic Landmark, notable for its engineering. Here they encounter a creepy hearse driver who knocks on the cab window and asks Andrea if she wants to be his next passenger, picking up a cigarette butt she threw out.

Is the hearse driver involved in the crime you already know is going to happen? The film lingers on him long enough to make you wonder, but five episodes in, he still hasn’t returned.

4. George Washington Bridge

Processed with VSCOcam with a8 presetPhoto by Dark Cyanide

They end up at a concrete landing in Fort Washington Park with a view of the George Washington Bridge. This is where Andrea offers him the fateful pills, which he takes without asking her what they are. She tells him she can’t be alone tonight, he reads into that, and takes the pills. By the way, on special occasions the George Washington Bridge gets completely lit up. See what that looks like here.

5. Andrea’s Townhouse: 144 West 87th Street

Photo: Barry Wetcher/HBO

Andrea brings Nasir to where she lives, in a fancy townhouse on 144 West 87th Street. We learn some episodes later that this is the house Andrea inherited from her mother, who died when she was ten years old. It’s here that Andrea and Nasir take more drugs, play a game of Russian roulette with a knife, and have sex. Nasir wakes up in the kitchen, heads upstairs to say goodbye, and discovers Andrea has been stabbed repeatedly and left for dead.

6. Lincoln Center

Nasir freaks out, runs to his car and realizes he doesn’t have his coat and keys. He breaks the glass on the front door to get back in, alerting a sleeping neighbor, grabs his coat and the knife they used to play Russian roulette on the way out. He drives down Broadway, stops at a red light in front of Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, turns left on 64th Street and gets stopped by the cops. They decide to bring him to the precinct, but then get called to an incident on 87th Street.

6. 21st Police Precinct

Photo courtesy HBO

One thing that’s a little off is that Nasir gets brought to the 21st Police Precinct, a defunct precinct that was located at 327 East 22nd Street. We previously went inside for a street art show in the building in Gramercy and can assure you that it’s definitely not the one in the show. For the neighborhood, Nasir would have been likely brought to the 20th Precinct at 120 West 82nd Street. We’ve been in that one too, for something unrelated to this publication, and the interior and exterior are different than what’s in the show. The first precinct that Nasir’s parents go to, the 12th or the One Two, as the police refer to it, also does not exist.

7. The Tombs

When Nasir gets charged, he is transported to The Tombs, the Manhattan Detention Complex downtown between City Hall and Chinatown. A New York-based lawyer describes The Tombs, in its current state, to Untapped Cities as “Deep underground, with stale air and bright florescent lights, the cells in the Tombs are dreary, suffocating and sleepless places. During the approximately 24 hours that the accused are held there, they can expect a gross sandwich, shared bathroom with no stall, and 30 cellmates ranging from the dangerous to the innocent in various states of despair.” Seems like it was depicted quite well in The Night Of.

The van is shown entering a gated entrance on Baxter Street which does lead into The Tombs in real life. The shot from inside the tunnel of The Tombs looking out onto Bayard Street and Columbus Park, is also filmed from within the actual building.

8. New York Criminal Court

Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

Nasir’s arraignment takes place in New York Criminal Court, just next to The Tombs. Helen Weiss, a District Attorney is shown smoking at one of the entrance halls along Centre Street before she heads into a court room.

9. Rikers Island

Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

After his arraignment, Nasir gets taken to Rikers Island while he awaits trial. We’ve worked inside this jail and there are definitely aspects of the place that are captured well. The only actual scene at Rikers filmed for the show is the shot of the bus going over Rikers Island Bridge, the only public access on and off the island. The exterior scenes are filmed at the former Queens House of Detention in Kew Gardens, Queens located at 126-02 82nd Avenue. This location is also used as the jail in Mr. Robot.

Rikers Island, the city’s main jail complex, is not a prison – it hosts those detained by the Department of Corrections awaiting trail, those who cannot afford or were denied bail, and those serving sentences of one year or less. As such, it is unlikely that the characters shown in The Night Of serving for manslaughter, murder and other serious crimes, would be in Rikers Island here on a long-term basis. What the show depicts accurately are the long waits to see detainees.

10. Square Diner

Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

When Detective Box takes Andrea’s step-dad to chat, they go to the Square Diner in Tribeca, an old-school luncheonette spot with decors that just call for filming.

11. Cavalry Cemetery

Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

No film or show set in New York City depicting a funeral is complete without being in Cavalry Cemetery – from Zoolander to Gotham to The Night Of. Andrea is buried at this Queens cemetery, next to the Kosciuszko Bridge, home to over 3 million others souls.

Next, check out the NYC Film Locations for Mr. Robot, Master of None, and more in our ongoing column.