Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

The second season of Luke Cage is here and thanks to the expansion of the plot line, film locations have extended to even more of the five boroughs.

Luke Cage debuted on Netflix in 2016, following Jessica Jones and Daredevil. Fans of Jessica Jones already knew who Luke Cage is – he appeared as a bartender with special powers in the show last year. Thanks to a freak event, his body is immune to things that kill must people like gunshots and he’s super strong. In Jessica Jones, he’s keeping it low key while working in the Horseshoe Bar after the loss of his girlfriend in a horrific bus crash. In his own show, he’s up in Harlem working multiple jobs as a sweeper in a barbershop and as a dishwasher in a Harlem club and becomes a bit of a celebrity by season two.

The show shoots some of the locations right in Harlem but filming actually takes place all around New York City. The opening sequence features notable places like The Apollo and the Harlem Casino/Loew’s Seventh Avenue Theater. The location that figures most obviously in the opening imagery is the University Heights Bridge, which is technically much further north in Inwood at 207th Street, which spans the Harlem River to the Bronx.

Season 2

1. Pop’s Barbershop

Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

Pop’s Barbershop is back as a location in the second season, and our staff spotted the set facade reappear at at 181 Malcolm X Boulevard, on the corner of 119th Street, during the shooting for the season. This storefront, on the lower floor of a Harlem townhouse, is currently vacant. Malcolm X Boulevard also goes by its original name, Lenox Avenue, and the section of the avenue where Pop’s Barbershop is located is part of the Mount Morris Historic District. And of course, the avenue is one of the many places to remember Malcolm X.

Pop’s Barbershop is known as the “Switzerland” of Harlem, where members of opposing groups temporarily hold off their beef. Luke Cage (Mike Colter) works here sweeping up hair and doing the laundry. At the end of the first season, the facade is destroyed but it’s since been repaired. Making rent is a new struggle, however.

2.  The Paradise Nightclub

Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

The Paradise Nightclub, run in the first season by Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali) and now by Mariah Dillard and Shades, is a fictional spot – perhaps named in reference to the real nightclub, Smalls Nightclub. Opened in 1925, it was notable for being one of the only renown clubs in Harlem run by an African American, and served both white and black customers.

The exterior of the Paradise Nightclub is filmed at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, with its notable curved marquee. What many don’t realize is that the music venue used to be a mayonnaise factory. The interior appears to be a set.

Later in the first season, there’s a meeting that take places in Stokes’ office. Someone brings up a book he is reading about the social conditions that created hip hop: “The Dodgers leave Brooklyn. Robert Moses creates the Cross Bronx Expressway and white folks went running for the suburbs.” Gotta respect any mainstream show that can weave all of these major sociopolitical and economic movements together with the modern day.

3. Graham Court

Shades meets up with his main henchman in front of Graham Court, one of New York City’s renowned courtyard buildings built by the Astor family, located in Harlem. The building takes up the whole block on 7th Avenue (Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard), from 116th  to 117th Streets. Shades asks, “Rivals?” and satisfied with the answer, “We ain’t got none” hands over keys to a Mercedes Benz.

4. Ginny’s Supper Club

Mariah and Shades meet up with Piranha Jones, who has insider information on Atreus Plastics, a company owned by Mark Higgins, “head of the largest black-owned plastics company in the world.” Jones reports that the company is working on indestructible plastics for military use and a paper thin monitor, but only Glenn Industries, who is looking to buy Atreus, knows. With an investment to take controlling interest while Atreus stock price is low could put Mariah and Shades on top when the acquisition happens.

The meeting takes place at Ginny’s Supper Club, a music venue and restaurant in the basement of the restaurant Red Rooster in Harlem, located at 310 Lenox Avenue.

5. Red Rooster

Conveniently for filming, Luke Cage and Claire are having a dinner on the terrace at Red Rooster – although the show is not suggesting all these characters are actually literally in the same location. The Red Rooster is the restaurant by Ethiopian-born chef Marcus Samuelsson.

6. WNYC Transmitter Park

Diamondback and Nigel, a Jamaican who is part of the gang the Yardies, meet at WNYC Transmitter Park, a waterfront park in Greenpoint. “Harlem will have to wait, ” Nigel says, “First, we take Brooklyn.”

7. Greenpoint Terminal

Luke Cage is set up by Mariah’s driver Sugar to check out a shipment Arturo III’s guys supposedly talked about during a drive. Luke heads there, which is shot at the Greenpoint Terminal on the Brooklyn-Queens border along Newtown Creek (part of which is a film studio and soundstage). When he opens up the truck, it explodes but Luke comes out just fine. When Arturo III tries to shoot him with the Judas bullet, this time, he’s invincible to it.

1. Genghis Connie’s and Luke Cage’s Apartment

Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

If you were looking for the location of Genghis Connie’s in Harlem – you would have a hard time. That’s because the restaurant is fictional and this block is actually located in Washington Heights, at the corner of 171st Street and Broadway. There, you’ll find the confluence of Citibank, Bank of America, and Rite Aid that you see in the reflections at Genghis Connie’s. The actual restaurant is La Dinastia Restaurant, serving Latin Chinese cuisine restaurantIn the show, Luke Cage’s apartment is located above the Chinese restaurant, which he rents from Connie (Jade Wu). A Reddit thread points out that a fake newsstand was added for the filming.

2. Crispus Attucks Complex

Crispus Attucks is a historical figure, known to be the first black man killed during the Boston Massacre in 1770. In Luke Cage, Harlem councilwoman Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodward), a cousin to Cottonmouth, is campaigning to get a building dedicated as the Crispus Attucks Complex, part of her New Harlem Renaissance project. This building is allegedly located at St. Nicholas Avenue and 128th Street based on the street signs but it is actually the former Fulton Correctional Facility prison at 171st Street and Fulton Avenue in the Bronx across from Crotona Park. As of 2015, it was planned for adaptive reuse into a “community re-entry center for ex-inmates,” reported the Commercial Observer, with an expected completion date of 2017, hence why it is open for film shoots in a rather raw state.

3. Mount Olivet Baptist Church

Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

A couple of the kids that frequent Pop’s Barbershop (and one who also works at the Paradise Nightclub) agree to do a job to take money meant from a weapons deal. It’s an inside job planned by Cottonmouth, but it goes wrong when Shameek Smith decides to kill one of the kids because he starts to freak out after Smith shoots someone during the hit. Shameek goes to meet Cottonmouth, who beats him to a pulp, kills him, and dumps him in front of Mount Olivet Baptist Church, on Malcolm X Avenue and 120th Street. The neoclassical church, with its Corinthian columns and stained glass, is just a block from Pop’s Barbershop, and was originally a Jewish temple, the Temple Israel. It’s one of the many buildings in Harlem that used to be synagogues, when Harlem was the second largest Jewish community in the United States.

An important later scene takes place in the interior sanctuary of the church.

4. St. Nicholas Playground South

When Misty Knight (Simone Missick), an NYPD detective (and romantic interest for Luke Cage), tries to get some information from some of the kids from the neighborhood, she challenges one of them to a game of Horse. She wins, revealing that back in the day, she was a real baller. The basketball court is located in St. Nicholas Playground South on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and 128th Street. You can see the Salem United Methodist Church and NYCHA’s Saint Nicholas housing project in the background.

5. Roosevelt Island Steam Plant / Seagate Prison

In the fourth episode, we see a flashback to Luke Cage’s earlier life as Carl Lucas – when he goes to Seagate Prison for something he maintains that he did not do. Seagate is where he meets Dr. Reva Connors and Rackham, a correction officer. To protect his friend, another inmate named Squabbles, Lucas agrees to illegal ring fights organized by the correction officers. The scene of the fight takes place inside the Roosevelt Island Steam Plant, a facility built starting in 1932. The large atrium portion the scene is filmed in was built in the 1950s. See photographs of our exploration inside this building here. The Friends of the Roosevelt Island Steam Plant was hoping to turn it into a museum for technology, art and science, but the project did not come to fruition.

Later in the episode, we see how Carl Lucas transforms into Lucas Cage. The doctor at the facility, Dr. Noah Burnstein, has been performing experiments on the inmates. Reeva convinces Burnstein to try to save Lucas, but CO Rackham interferes – causing the experiment to get overloaded. The device explodes and Lucas gains his superpowers.

6. Jackie Robinson Park

Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

When Stokes starts to shake up small businesses and individuals in Harlem to make up his shortfall of cash after Cage attacked Crispus Attucks, he tells the locals to ask Cage why. Cage goes on the offensive and starts to get back what the residents had taken from them – and confronts Stokes’ goons at Jackie Robinson Park. He mentions the park name in the scene, calling it “hallowed ground.” Jackie Robinson Park is located between 144th and 155th Street between Edgecombe Avenue and Bradhurst Avenue.

7. Newtown Creek

Newtown Creek seems to be every film location scout’s prime choice for where shady deals need to occur. In shows ranging from Jessica Jones to Mr. Robot, this zone is still very much activated with industry. There’s the Newtown Creek Disester Eggs, often prominently featured in shows because of it’s award winning architecture. In the scene in Luke Cage, you only see the elevated glass walkways of the Digester Eggs. ExxonMobile still operates out of the area and is an active partner in the Greenpoint Oil Spill Remediation Project, cleaning up the damage of the 50+ refineries that once operated here. Within this zone is Broadway Stages, a film production facility that hosts sets for shows like GothamThe Good Wife, and Blue Bloods.

The scene here, showing the meeting between Stokes and detective Rafael Scarfe, who is on Stokes’ payroll is shot from the Long Island City side of Newtown Creek behind Railroad Avenue. Not surprisingly, sinister deeds take place with Stokes shooting Scarfe.

8. Scarfe’s Apartment 620 W. 172nd Street

Scarfe lives in a pre-war apartment building in unit 5D and has hidden a notebook on Stokes under his floorboards. Faux street signs have been put on the street here too, that read 150th Street instead of 172nd Street. But the real location of this building is at 620 West 172nd Street in Washington Heights, just conveniently down the block from the real location of Genghis Connie’s.

9. Cortlandt Alley

Another location that location scouts can’t resist is Cortlandt Alley, in Chinatown. Luke Cage and nurse Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) are en route to bring Scarfe downtown to One Police Plaza to turn him in and get him to testify against Stokes when they are followed in a car chase by Stokes’ men. Cortlandt Alley has the perfect mix of old Gotham, with its fire escapes, industrial shutters and narrowness. You’ll recognize Cortlandt Alley in Gotham and from the backdrop of the video for the Vampire Weekend song “Cousins.”

10. United Palace Theater

Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

After Luke is shot by the newly developed “Judas” bullet by Stryker, Claire gets him to the Harlem Women’s Clinic. Stryker tracks them down and attacks them there, then breaks into the United Palace Theater, one of the five Loews Wonder Theaters in the New York City area. The United Palace is located at Broadway and 175th Street in Washington Heights. These were among the most opulent of the movie houses ever built in the United States.

Luke enters the main lobby, then heads into the theater itself. Stryker/Diamondback/Willis is up in the balcony, but Luke runs and knocks over a support pole. These poles do not actually exist in the real theater, but were added for the set and storyline. Stryker is injured but re-emerges after Luke down the street from the theater, reveals himself to be his brother, and shoots him again.

In 1969, the theater was saved from possible demolition by  Rev. Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II (Reverend Ike) who transformed the theater into a church. The building, now known as the United Palace Theater, is still home to the Rev. Ike’s church and is also used as a performance venue. See photos of the Wonder theaters here.

11. Alpha 1 Deli with Method Man

Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

Luke Cage is on the run after escaping his arrest, following the hostage situation at Harlem’s Paradise. He breaks free of the armored van he’s being held in and a police officer who sympathizes with Cage’s mission lets him go. He’s heading down the street the next day when he pauses and Revolution Books in Harlem to allow a cop car to pass him. While waiting, he sees two guys put on masks and enter Alpha 1 Deli at 132nd Street and Malcolm X Boulevard/Lenox Avenue.

While the guys are holding up the deli, one recognizes Method Man, takes off his mask and says, “My bad, Meth, I grew up on that Wu-Tang shit. But you know how it is.” Cage comes in and beats the guys up. Method Man recognize Luke Cage and there’s a great exchange where both go, “It’s you, yeah, it’s you.” “No man, it’s you.” Cage asks to use Method Man’s hoodie so they switch, and then later the hoodie with bullet hole look becomes a fashion trend and statement.

12. Riverbank State Park

Candace, the VIP waitress at Harlem’s Paradise who overheard Shades and Mariah Dillard figuring out how to pin Cottonmouth’s murder on Luke Cage, reaches out to Detective Misty Knight with her information. She asks for a meeting point, and Misty has her meet in Riverside Park. The George Washington Bridge is in view to the north and Riverbank State Park just to the south (with a glimpse of the infrastructure at North River Wastewater Treatment Plant).

13. Riverside Viaduct

The Riverside Viaduct, in Manhattanville by the Hudson River, is another popular film location spot. The steel archways that support this portion of Riverside Drive, were lauded as engineering and architectural feats when built in 1900. The viaduct, as well as the warehouse Stryker is storing his weapons in, were also in the last season of Gotham.

The season ends with Cage taken in by the Feds, Mariah released and in charge of Harlem’s Paradise with Shades by her side (in more ways than one, it’s hinted), Stryker in the care of Dr. Noah Burnstein, who gleefully has a new patient to experiment on, and Carl Lucas’ file, found by Bobby Fish in Pop’s Barbershop. ‘Til next season!

Next, check out the Film Locations for Jessica Jones and Daredevil.

6 thoughts on “NYC Film Locations for Luke Cage, Netflix’s Marvel Show Set in Harlem

  1. El Barrio Restaurant Bakery is where Shades gets arrested in the final episode, and Yes, he mentions Cuchifritos which is just up the same street.
    Not hard to find the Carls Schulz Monument near Columbia University. Where Luke and Danny get perspective on things.
    The High Bridge is where Bushmaster again beats Luke.

    1. Thanks Glenn! We haven’t gotten to the rest of the second season yet, sadly! But soon!

  2. The theatre where Luke and Diamondback fight in ep. 7 is the United Palace at Broadway and 175.

    1. It is indeed! It’s now in the article (though it’s actually in episode 8). Untapped Cities once hosted a tour in the United Palace, it’s gorgeous!

  3. Someone needs a tour of uptown!

    Nobody says, uses “Malcolm X” to give directions, people use “Lenox Ave.” or “Seventh Ave.” Since that is what the NYC Subway uses

    The indigo Arms at 119 & Lenox, was a B&B and the lower level used as event space.

    Jackie Robinson Park is bound by Edgecombe Ave on the West and Bradhurst on the East.

    1. Harlemites often take short-cuts in referring to our streets, but when describing our fair Village to the public, we choose to honor Seventh Avenue with a name associated with the rich history of our Village – Malcolm-X Boulevard. Not taking away from my friend, who owns Indigo Arms, our article is about a Netflix Series. We will save our mention of shops, restaurants and B&B’s for another post. You may message me for information on an up-to-date Harlem Map, which will be on view this month on Malcolm-X Boulevard.

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