On October 4th, The Warner Bros. movie Joker will bring Gotham back to life again, starring Joaquin Phoenix in a dark turn for which he is already getting rave reviews. While the usual cast of DC Comics characters return for this oft-explored story, Joker is at its core, as described by Warner Bros. a “gritty, allegorical character study.” In this version, Arthur Fleck (aka the Joker) wears two masks: one as a clown for work, and one as a misunderstood, fragile outcast. He moves about Gotham riding “the graffitied mass transit rails of a hostile town teeming with division and dissatisfaction” until he reaches a breaking point. As avid trackers of New York City filming locations, we were excited to see many unique places shown in the first two trailers released so far (and that it is actually shot in New York City and surroundings!).

1. Arkham State Hospital

The television show Gotham used the somewhat abandoned Bayley Seton Hospital on Staten Island, spruced up through CGI, as the setting for Arkham Asylum, but Joker uses Brooklyn Army Terminal. As seen in the trailer, Joker walks up to the arches you see above, over railroad tracks that are still in use for freight. The words Arkham State Hospital have been added by CGI.

Interior scenes appear to be filmed at Metropolitan Hospital in East Harlem, which is also shown in an aerial shot at the opening of the teaser trailer. Metropolitan Hospital’s interior hallways were also a film set for the television show New Amsterdam.

2. Bronx Staircase

Copyright: © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Niko Tavernise

The movie posters for Joker show him on a steep staircase, which is actually located in the Bronx. Just north of the Grand Concourse are numerous sets of steep steps that run from Jerome Avenue to Anderson Avenue, colloquially referred to as “street steps.” There are at least 63 of these in the Bronx, but this scene specifically is shot at 167th Street between Jerome and Anderson avenues. There is even a Google map pin specifically for “JOKER STAIRS move location” at this spot.

3. Triborough Bridge

Copyright: © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

In the opening of the second trailer, the Joker is on a vintage bus making funny faces to a child in front. They are traveling on Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) Bridge lift span that crosses the Harlem River. The child’s mother tells Joker to stop bothering them.

The vintage bus on the set of Joker

The teal bus the Joker is riding debuted in New York City in 1968, and several buses of this type are in the collection of the MTA Transit Museum, and can be seen at vintage bus festivals and other occasions. In Joker, the logo on the outside of the bus has been changed to “Gotham Transit Authority” (GTA).

4. Newark Paramount Theater

© 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Niko Tavernise

Many of the scenes that look the most “Gotham” are actually filmed in Newark, for that mix of gritty old New York City that has mostly disappeared. Storefronts were changed to look like New York City stores like a version of Papaya King, the famous hot dog and papaya drink store, and windows were painted over temporarily in graffiti to mimic a 1980s version of the city.

In a formative scene, Joker is working as a clown in front of the Newark Paramount Theater when he gets chased and beat down in an alley. This appears to be one of the final straws for Joker, setting the sequence of events that will unfold in the movie.

The Newark Paramount was originally built as a vaudeville theater, and later converted into a movie theater by famous theater designer Thomas Lamb. There are plans to convert this space into an entertainment complex, demolishing the interior itself but keeping the front marquee and facade.

5. Loews Jersey Theater

In the last few seconds of the second trailer, you see two masked clown men running towards a police officer under a bright theater marquee. This is the Loews Jersey Theater, located in Jersey Citym, one of the five Loews Wonder theaters built in the New York City area. In the short scene, you can see the distinctive ticket booth that comes out of the front entrance bay.

The incredibly ornate theater was inspired by the design of Europe’s opera houses and noble palaces, and is now operated by Friend of the Loew’s, the group that saved the theater from demolition. The restoration of the Loew’s Jersey is still ongoing, powered completely by volunteers. Untapped Cities Insiders were previously treated to a tour of the interior and you can see more photos from that visit here.

6. Abandoned 9th Avenue Subway Station

The gritty, graffiti-ridden New York City subway system is quite a character in Joker. Most of the subway system in New York City no longer has that feel, so when film production crews need to find something that references an earlier era, they often shoot in abandoned stations. The abandoned level of the Bowery subway station is a popular spot — seen in Mr. Robot for example and recently in a Tom Ford fashion show — but 9th Avenue’s abandoned lower level, where Joker is shot, is rarely used.

Photo courtesy an Untapped Cities reader

The 9th Avenue station is located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn at 39th Street. This lower level has not been used since 1975, when it was no longer needed as as through route for the former BMT system. It was used for the filming of Crocodile Dundee in 1986, but we have not seen it since. Our readers report that other subway stations used for filming Joker included the Church Avenue station (also seen in Mr. Robot) and the Bedford Park Boulevard station on the D line. You can see from photographs taken by our readers that the signage on the platform have been changed accordingly (Downtown & Tricorner via Local or the 8 Express train) and even the inside of the subway cars are fully designed, with a Gotham subway map and ads.

Photo courtesy an Untapped Cities reader

Photo courtesy an Untapped Cities reader

Photo courtesy an Untapped Cities reader

In an interview with Untapped Cities, production designer Mark Friedberg told us that filming on the 9th Ave lower section was the easiest, since it is closed but “some of the stations that are public have to be carefully coordinated with the MTA. They have specific guidelines which are for our safety generally. We who work in New York know the folks who coordinate this well. In the case of Joker they went above and beyond and really helped us be able to tell our story. Some of the subway car work was also shot on stage.”

7. Manhattan Bridge Underpass

In a scene in the teaser trailer, Joker runs through this tunnel under the Manhattan Bridge dressed as a clown. You can locate it at 199 Cherry Street on the Lower East Side.

8. Wayne Hall

The exterior of Wayne Hall is filmed at the Hudson County Courthouse in Jersey City, built in the early 1900s in the Beaux-arts architectural style. In both Joker trailers, while a film of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times is being screened inside Wayne Hall, a mob of people with clown masks and signs are fighting with police.

The Hudson County Courthouse has been used in filming locations before, for Law & Order, for example. The beautiful building was saved from demolition in the mid-20th century and added to the National Register for Historic Places in 1970.

9. Chinatown

© 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

Joker and his neighbor and love interest Sophie Dumond walk through Chinatown. Probably nothing too major needed to be done here, but you can see in the film still the vintage cars that have been added.

Next, see photos from the set of Joker in Newark and discover the NYC filming locations for Succession on HBO.