The New York of ‘Taxi Driver’ may be long gone, but with a little imagination and a good tour guide (ahem…), you can still find Travis Bickle’s city right here in New York. So let’s hail a cab and check out the movie’s Manhattan haunts and some of our favorite spots to recreate New York’s grittier days…
To start out on the Travis Bickle tour, head to Times Square. Sure, family fun has replaced old-school smut in Times Square, but there’s nowhere better to soak up the city’s chaos. Start your tour at the iconic Ed Sullivan Theater, current home of ‘The Late Show with David Letterman‘ on Broadway between 53rd and 54th streets. That’s were Robert De Niro’s Bickle calls up Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) to apologize for taking her to a porno at the now-demolished Lyric Theater (213 W. 42nd St.).
From there it’s time to head downtown, to Bickle’s real stomping grounds. Start your downtown journey at another defunct theater, The Variety (110 Third Ave., between 13th and 14th streets), where Bickle meet underage prostitute Iris, played by Jodie Foster. Located near Union Square, the theater is close to the scene of the film’s dramatic shootout — an apartment at 226 E. 13th Street.
To try to taste 1970s New York, end your trip with a stop to one of the nabe’s many dive bars. We recommend Mars Bar (E. 1st street between Second Avenue and Extra Place), Odessa Cafe (the bar, not the restaurant, near the corner of St. Mark’s and Avenue A) and the nearby Lucy’s for the truly old-school East Village experience.
Want more Bickle? Then check out ‘Abhijan (The Expedition)’ by Satyajit Ray. The film’s crabby cabbie, Narasingh, is supposedly the inspiration for De Niro’s character.
Want more New York? Read Nisha Gopalan’s tour of the city in Film + Travel from Museyon Guides.