American Splendor, 2003
visit the film locations
Shay's Pizza Shop, 4007 Saint Clair Avenue at East 40th Street (tel: 216.431.6339)
Elmwood Home Bakery, 15204 Madison Avenue, Lakewood (tel: 216.221.4338)
Halloran Ice Rink, West 117th at Linnet Avenue (tel: 216.664.4187)
New York: Flights: JFK Airport
Stay at: the Warwick Hotel, 65 West 54th Street. (tel: 212.247.2700)
In the area
American Splendor location: Harvey Pekar pitches his comic book idea to Robert Crumb: Shay’s Pizza House, Saint Clair Avenue, Cleveland
Professional grump Harvey Pekar supplied the words; Robert Crumb, (who defined the look of the late 60s counterculture with Mr Natural and Fritz the Cat), provided the scruffy, uncouth visuals for American Splendor comic books.
Although the Pekars lived in Cleveland Heights, to the east of Cleveland itself, the movie was filmed mainly around the suburb of Lakewood, to the west.
It is on the city’s East Side, though, that Harvey (Paul Giamatti) successfully pitches his comic strip idea to Crumb, in Shay's Pizza Shop, 4007 Saint Clair Avenue at East 40th Street.
American Splendor location: Harvey Pekar realises he’s famous when he meets an old school friend: Elmwood Home Bakery, Madison Avenue, Cleveland
Pekar realises he’s achieved some kind of fame at Elmwood Home Bakery, 15204 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, (typically, he’s buying day-old bread), when he bumps into old school friend Alice Quinn (Maggie Moore).
A little to the south, Harvey takes equally geeky soul-mate Joyce (Hope Davis) for a disastrous yet oddly successful date at Gene’s Place to Dine, 3730 Rocky River Drive.
Ultranerd Toby Radloff takes Harvey and Joyce to see “a story of hope and tolerance” – Revenge of the Nerds – at the Detroit Theatre, supposedly in Toledo, which is about 120 miles west of Cleveland. Actually, the cinema was no further away than Lakewood again, at 16407 Detroit Avenue, until being demolished in 2011 to make way for a much-needed McDonalds.
American Splendor location: Harvey Pekar goes skating after his cancer all-clear: Halloran Park Ice Rink, West 117th Street, Cleveland
A couple of miles to the east, Harvey – naturally – doesn't join in when Joyce skates with their adopted daughter Danielle at the open-air Halloran Park Ice Rink, West 117th Street (though you’ll find the entrance on Linnet Avenue).
In New York, Harvey makes his legendary appearances on Late Night With David Letterman at the NBC Building, Rockefeller Plaza. The Pekars stay at the Warwick Hotel, 65 West 54th Street, at 6th Avenue – which requires yet another namecheck for press magnate William Randolph Hearst, who commissioned this hotel in 1926 for his partner, actor Marion Davies, to entertain their showbiz chums.