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Thursday December 13th 2018

Once Upon A Time In America | 1983

Once Upon a Time In America location: 8th Street South, Brooklyn
Once Upon a Time In America location: The twenties neighbourhood: 8th Street South, Brooklyn

The locations for Sergio Leone’s magnificent sprawling epic – set in New York – can be found not only in the USA, but across Europe.

Following on from Once Upon a Time In The West, the film traces the growth of the States from the Twenties to the Sixties, as the Western becomes the gangster flick. The setting of New York has obviously changed out of all recognition. Leone filmed not only in New York itself – where an entire city block was reconstructed – and New Jersey – which you might expect – to Florida, up to Montreal, Quebec, and more surprisingly in France and Italy.

The twenties ‘Lower East Side’ neighbourhood, where Noodles and Max first meet up, was indeed filmed on the streets below the towering Williamsburg Bridge – but not in Manhattan. The location is across the East River on 8th Avenue South at Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn.

Hoboken Railway Station in New Jersey and the Don CeSar Beach Resort, 3400 Gulf Boulevard, St Petersburg Beach in Florida also stood in for old Manhattan.

New York’s ‘Grand Central Station’, in the thirties flashbacks, is the Gare du Nord in Paris.

Once Upon a Time In America location: Hotel Excelsior, the Lido, Venice
Once Upon a Time In America location: The ‘Long Island’ restaurant: Hotel Excelsior, the Lido, Venice

Perhaps the most unexpected location is the lavish ‘Long Island’ restaurant, to which Noodles (Robert De Niro) takes his dream date. You'll find this in Venice: it’s the Hotel Excelsior Venice, Lungomare Marconi 41 on the Lido. Built in the 1900s, the Excelsior was the world’s top resort hotel and is a favourite of the film festival crowd. It's on the Lido just along from the famous Grand Hotel des Bains, famous onscreen from Luchino Visconti's Death In Venice.

Once Upon a Time In America location: Manhattan Bridge, Water Street at Washington Street, Brooklyn
Once Upon a Time In America location: The iconic poster image: Manhattan Bridge, Water Street at Washington Street, Brooklyn | Photograph: Simon Robson

The bridge towering over the warehouses, an image so striking it was used for the poster art and DVD cover, is Manhattan Bridge, Water Street at Washington Street, once again, over in Brooklyn.