3. Coney Island

Coney Island Boardwalk dusk 1
Photo courtesy of Margo Donohue

Other than the Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island is likely the most recognizable Brooklyn destination, and it thus appears in many of the most successful films of all time. Some of the earliest films back in the Vitagraph era of the early 1900s were set in Coney Island. As Donohue writes, “From the rough-and-tumble early twentieth century to the more family-friendly 1930s–1950s to the racial issues of post–World War II America (mostly ‘white flight,’ where millions of white New Yorkers started to leave Brooklyn for the suburbs) into the 1970s, Coney Island speaks to the state of the United States and its people.”

One of the most iconic Coney Island movies was The Warriors, the 1979 Walter Hill cult classic. The Warriors in the film are a Coney Island gang who are chased by groups including the Riffs and the Baseball Furies. The group has been framed for the murder of a New York gang leader, and the film features many shots of the Coney Island boardwalk and the local dilapidated streets. In a notable scene from the film, actor David Patrick Kelly shouts “Warriors! Come out and play” by the beach, a line that was supposedly improvised.

In addition to the iconic beach and boardwalk, the Coney Island Cyclone has made quite a few film appearances. In The Wiz, Dorothy (Diana Ross) meets the Scarecrow (Michael Jackson) at the Cyclone while heading toward Oz. Woody Allen, whose family lived near the Cyclone, used it as a setting for his film Annie Hall; in the film, Alvy Singer lived in the former hotel beneath the roller coaster.

The Wonder Wheel features prominently in Woody Allen’s 2017 hit Wonder Wheel in which the main characters live right across the street. Michael Stahl-David and Odette Annable have a date at the Wonder Wheel in Cloverfield, and it also serves as the backdrop for the Peter Parker-Vulture duel in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Nathan’s Hot Dogs also gets its spotlight in films like Spike Lee’s He Got Game and Adam McKay’s The Other Guys.